72 Am. U. L. Rev. F. 19 (2022).
For several decades, the Federal Circuit Courts have been split about how to sentence defendants convicted of drug conspiracy under 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841. While some circuits hold defendants strictly liable for all the drugs dealt by all members of the conspiracy, other circuits take a fundamentally different approach: they hold individuals accountable for the amount and type of drugs reasonably foreseeable to the individual. Until recently, the Federal Circuit Courts were trending toward the individualized sentencing approach. However, in 2021, the en banc Ninth Circuit Court reversed trend, and joined three circuits holding defendants strictly liable for drug conspiracy. This Comment argues that the plain language of the federal statutes resolves this issue in favor of the individualized approach. Further, it argues that under key U.S. Supreme Court decisions and fundamental principles of common law conspiracy, all federal courts should adopt the individualized approach to sentencing drug conspirators.
* Senior Staffer, American University Law Review, Volume 72; J.D. Candidate, May 2023, American University Washington College of Law. Many thanks to my faculty advisor, Professor Ferguson, and to my Note & Comment Editor, Ben Reyes, for providing outstanding guidance and support. Thank you to my colleagues on the American University Law Review for the hard work readying the piece for publication. Finally, a special thank you to my parents and to my husband, Parks Hughes, for brilliant advice during lengthy read-throughs, and to Sophia and Audrey for filling me with happiness every day.