In 2004, Federal District Court Judge Spencer Letts reversed the verdict for a man who was given a mandatory 25-year prison sentence because of the California "three-strikes" law. The accused, M.B., was convicted of his first felony in 1988, after he got in a car accident then stole money from the other driver. A few years later, he was under the influence of drugs and had a fight with his girlfriend, who called the police. In this case, he pleaded no contest to assault, making that his second strike. The last strike was brought on by M.B.'s purchase of less than a gram of crack cocaine, for which he was convicted of drug possession.
Under the California Three Strikes Law, M.B. was required to spend 25 years in prison, after which his release would be approved by a parole board. M.B. tried numerous times to appeal to the court for leniency, but to no avail. In 2002, Justice Letts was assigned to give M.B. his final sentence appeal. Fortunately for M.B., Letts viewed him as someone in need of help with his substance abuse, rather than a criminal. After thoroughly researching M.B.'s case for 2 and a half years, Judge Letts ruled that his sentence was not proportionate to his crime. Letts concluded that his past convictions had not been proportionate to felonies for the Three Strikes Law purposes and that in his second strike ruling, there had actually been a mistake. The court had recorded it as assault with a gun, but he had actually pleaded no contest to simple assault.
After M.B. was freed, he not only became good friends with Judge Letts but also received his GED. He is currently a volunteer at the Los Angeles Dream Center, helping others overcome substance abuse. According to the Huffington Post, Judge Letts stated that M.B. was proof that people had the same basic goodness if given the chance. If you have been charged with a drug crime, then turn to a tough Orange County criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman who can give you the defense you deserve.
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