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8th Circuit decides N.D. case Wednesday, February 7, 2024

In the case before the United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit, the defendant, Kaycee Heard, appealed his 180-month sentence for involvement in a drug-trafficking conspiracy that transported oxycodone and fentanyl pills from Michigan to North Dakota for distribution. Heard pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and his sentence exceeded his Guidelines range of 135 to 168 months. Heard's appeal centered around three key claims: the district court miscalculated his criminal history score, wrongly applied a Guidelines enhancement for his role in the conspiracy, and issued an unreasonable sentence.

The Appeals Court found no clear error in the district court's determination that Heard had participated in the riot, and concluded that the 180-month sentence was within the realm of reasonableness given Heard's drug trafficking and pretrial detention misconduct. The court also rejected Heard's claim that his sentence created unwarranted disparities with his co-conspirators, stating that the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities refers to national disparities, not differences among co-conspirators. The court therefore affirmed the district court’s judgment.

Read the court's opinion at: