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United States v. Potter

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

June 11, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Michael J.W. Potter, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: May 2, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville. No. 2:17-cr-00012-3-J. Ronnie Greer, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Joseph O. McAfee, MCAFEE & MCAFEE, PLLC, Greeneville, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          Brian Samuelson, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Knoxville,

          Tennessee, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Joseph O. McAfee, MCAFEE & MCAFEE, PLLC, Greeneville, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          Brian Samuelson, J. Gregory Bowman, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Knoxville, Tennessee, for Appellee.

          Before: MOORE, SUTTON, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          MURPHY, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         An average "dose" of methamphetamine weighs between one-tenth and one-quarter of a gram. And there are 28.3 grams to an ounce. So Michael Potter confessed to peddling a lot of doses of meth when he told police that he had sold some ten pounds. To make matters worse for Potter, he had been convicted of seven prior drug offenses. His prior statements about his drug sales supported his conviction for a different conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine that used similar methods. 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846. His prior drug offenses supported his mandatory life sentence. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(viii) (2012) (amended 2018).

         On appeal, Potter challenges his conviction and sentence. As for his conviction, he argues that the police elicited his statements after he invoked his right to an attorney under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and so violated the bright-line rule to stop questioning adopted by Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981). As for his sentence, he argues that the Eighth Amendment bars his mandatory term of life because the child-focused logic of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), should expand to cover ...


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