US v. Brooks

Filing 920060713

Opinion

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UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 05-4914 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, versus ANTHONY EUGENE BROOKS, a/k/a Antonio Brooks, Defendant - Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Newport News. Henry Coke Morgan, Jr., Senior District Judge. (CR-05-6) Submitted: April 17, 2006 Decided: July 13, 2006 Before WILLIAMS, MOTZ, and KING, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Frank W. Dunham, Jr., Federal Public Defender, Riley H. Ross, III, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Norfolk, Virginia, for Appellant. Paul J. McNulty, United States Attorney, John S. Davis, Assistant United States Attorney, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. See Local Rule 36(c). PER CURIAM: Anthony Eugene Brooks was indicted for being a felon in possession of ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2) (2000) (count one); and being an unlawful user of controlled substances in possession of ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(3), 924(a)(2) (2000) (count two). At trial, the district court granted his Fed. R. Crim. P. 29 motion for a judgment of acquittal on the second count. However, the district court denied the motion with respect to the first count, on which the jury subsequently convicted Brooks. The district court sentenced Brooks to eighty-seven months' imprisonment, at the top of the advisory Sentencing Guidelines range. conviction and sentence. First, Brooks contends that the district court erred in denying his Rule 29 motion as it related to the first count in the indictment. We review the district court's decision to deny a Rule 29 motion de novo. United States v. Lentz, 383 F.3d 191, 199 (4th Where, as here, Brooks appeals his Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 125 S. Ct. 1828 (2005). the motion was based on insufficient evidence, "[t]he verdict of a jury must be sustained if there is substantial evidence, taking the view most favorable to the Government, to support it." United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80 (1942). "[W]e Glasser v. defined have `substantial evidence,' in the context of a criminal action, as that evidence which `a reasonable finder of fact could accept as - 2 - adequate and sufficient to support a conclusion of a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'" United States v. Newsome, 322 F.3d 328, 333 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. Burgos, 94 F.3d 849, 862 (4th Cir. 1996) (en banc)). With these principles in mind, we have reviewed the record and conclude substantial evidence supports Brooks' conviction. Thus, we conclude the district court did not err in denying the Rule 29 motion on the first count. Second, Brooks contends the district court abused its discretion in denying his Fed. R. Crim. P. 33 motion for a new trial. Specifically, Brooks argues that he was prejudiced when the district court overruled his objection to evidence that had been previously admitted as relevant to the second count. The district court found that this evidence was also probative to the first count and was not "substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence." Fed. R. Evid. 403. A district court may grant a defendant's motion for a new trial "if the interest of justice so requires." 33(a). Fed. R. Crim. P. A district court "`should exercise its discretion to grant a new trial sparingly,' and . . . should do so `only when the evidence weighs heavily against the verdict,'" United States v. Perry, 335 F.3d 316, 320 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting United States v. - 3 - Wilson, 118 F.3d 228, 237 (4th Cir. 1997)), cert. denied, 124 S. Ct. 1408 (2004), or "when substantial prejudice has occurred," United States v. Jones, 542 F.2d 186, 211 (4th Cir. 1976). We review the denial of a Rule 33 motion for abuse of discretion. United States v. Adam, 70 F.3d 776, 779 (4th Cir. 1995). Whether evidence is more probative than prejudicial under Rule 403 requires a determination of whether "the risk that the jury will be excited to irrational behavior is disproportionate to the probative value of the evidence." (4th Cir. 1986). United States v. Tedder, 801 F.2d 1437, 1444 After thoroughly considering the issue, the Its findings were district court did not find such a risk existed. neither arbitrary nor irrational. See United States v. Simpson, Therefore, we find no abuse 910 F.2d 154, 157-58 (4th Cir. 1990). of discretion. Finally, Brooks argues that his sentence is unreasonable. After the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), a sentencing court is no longer bound by the range prescribed by the Sentencing Guidelines. 401 F.3d 540, 546 (4th Cir. 2005). United States v. Hughes, In determining a sentence post-Booker, however, sentencing courts are still required to calculate and consider the guideline range prescribed thereby as well as the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C.A. 3553(a) (West 2000 & Supp. 2005). Id.; see also United States v. Green, 436 F.3d 449, As stated in Hughes, we will generally 455-56 (4th Cir. 2006). - 4 - affirm a post-Booker sentence if it is within the statutorily prescribed range and is reasonable. Hughes, 401 F.3d at 546-47. Further, "while we believe that the appropriate circumstances for imposing a sentence outside the guideline range will depend on the facts of individual cases, we have no reason to doubt that most sentences will continue to fall within the applicable guideline range." United States v. White, 405 F.3d 208, 219 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 668 (2005); see also Green, 436 F.3d at 457 ("[A] sentence imposed within the properly calculated Guidelines range . . . is presumptively reasonable." (internal quotation marks omitted)). Here, Brooks does not claim the district court insufficiently considered the applicable Sentencing Guidelines; in fact, the district proposed support court in was declined the too the to apply two sentencing because court ten the also enhancements evidence sentenced in presentence weak. The report district of Brooks below statutory maximum years' imprisonment. short shrift However, Brooks contends the district court gave to its advisory sentencing considerations, particularly the directives to sentence to a term no greater than necessary and to avoid sentencing disparities. We find the district court considered any and all issues relevant to Brooks' sentence. argument, Moreover, we recently concluded, contrary to Brooks' that 3553's admonishment to avoid sentencing - 5 - disparities applies only to disparities between federal defendants except in unusual circumstances not present here. States v. Clark, 434 F.3d 684 (4th Cir. 2006). deficiency in Brooks' sentence. Accordingly, we affirm Brooks' conviction and sentence. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal See United We find no contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the court and argument would not aid the decisional process. AFFIRMED - 6 -

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