United States v. Scales, No. 72-1032.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCELEBREZZE and MILLER, Circuit , and THOMAS
Citation464 F.2d 371
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert Bryant SCALES, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 72-1032.
Decision Date14 July 1972

464 F.2d 371 (1972)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Robert Bryant SCALES, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 72-1032.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

July 14, 1972.


464 F.2d 372

Robert W. Andrews, Memphis, Tenn., for defendant-appellant; Sam J. Catanzaro, Jr., Memphis, Tenn., on brief.

Larry E. Parrish, Asst. U. S. Atty., for plaintiff-appellee; Thomas F. Turley, U. S. Atty., on brief.

Before CELEBREZZE and MILLER, Circuit Judges, and THOMAS,* District Judge.

CELEBREZZE, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from Appellant Scales' conviction, after a jury verdict of guilty in the District Court, for the unlawful manufacture and possession with intent to distribute approximately 1000 pounds of marihuana, in violation of Section 401 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Appellant asserts three grounds for appeal: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support the jury verdict; 2) the Government failed to establish that the marihuana was in any way related to interstate commerce so as to confer federal jurisdiction over the crime; and 3) the sentence imposed by the District Court constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The testimony of numerous witnesses established that in the spring of 1971 Appellant—never using his correct name —contracted for the purchase of two parcels of land of approximately 20 and 30 acres respectively, located near one another in Fayette County, Tennessee. Learning that one of the parcels was restricted under a cotton allotment, Appellant processed the necessary papers to have this allotment removed and to permit the planting of corn. Appellant further arranged to have one James Olds cultivate the parcels and plant corn thereon. Mr. Olds, however, was instructed by Appellant to leave a space in the center of each field, in which spaces Appellant said he planned to plant okra.

On one occasion while Mr. Olds was planting the corn, he observed Appellant, accompanied by another man and a child, in the area which had been set aside for okra. Appellant then indicated that the land was not in good shape for planting, and the three left.

Mr. Olds and his son returned to the parcels when the corn was knee-high, observed that the corn was in poor, neglected condition, and that no okra was growing in the center spaces, which were grass-covered. A neighbor similarly observed the poor condition of the corn and the "weeds and grass" growing in the center area of one parcel. At trial this neighbor used the same words to describe photos of the marihuana which was seized from the center areas of Appellant's fields.

In June 1971, agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Identification and the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs identified and seized approximately three acres of marihuana from the center portions of the fields, which, under a conservative estimate, amounted to 1000 pounds with a value of from $225,000 wholesale to $1,000,000 retail.

Upon his arrest, Appellant admitted the above transactions respecting the purchase of the land and the arrangements for corn to be planted, with spaces left in the center of each parcel, but he denied any knowledge of the

464 F.2d 373
marihuana.1 Appellant did, however, state that in order to "keep down suspicion," he had introduced a friend as his son to one of the property owners. He inquired as to who had identified him and stated that he would serve his time if he was convicted but someone would "catch hell" when he got out. Appellant further told the agents that he would plead guilty if prosecuted in a state court but would fight a federal prosecution

With respect to Appellant's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, it is a well established rule that a reviewing court cannot judge the credibility of witnesses nor weigh the evidence which was before the jury; rather, the verdict must be sustained if, taking the view most favorable to the Government and all reasonable inferences which may be drawn therefrom, there is substantial evidence to support the verdict. Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60, 80, 62 S.Ct. 457, 86 L.Ed. 680 (1942); United States v. Luxenberg, 374 F.2d 241, 248 (6th Cir. 1967); United States v. Conti, 339 F.2d 10, 13 (6th Cir. 1964). It is also an established rule of this Court that circumstantial evidence alone can sustain a guilty verdict and that to do so, circumstantial evidence need not remove every reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt. United States v. Luxenberg, supra, 374 F.2d at 249; United States v. Conti, supra, 339 F.2d at 12-13. Applying these rules to the evidence in the present case as summarized above, we hold that there is substantial evidence to support the jury verdict.

As to Appellant's second claim, challenging the Government's failure to show that the marihuana was in any way related to interstate commerce,2 it is clear from 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) that no such relation to interstate commerce need be shown in order to sustain Appellant's conviction thereunder. That Section provides as follows:

"(a) Except as authorized by this subchapter, it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally
(1) to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance."3

See also 21 U.S.C. § 801 (Introductory Provisions, setting forth Congress's intent to regulate both interstate and intrastate activities involving controlled substances).

We therefore consider Appellant's second ground for appeal to be a challenge to the constitutionality of Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 to the extent that the Act proscribes intrastate activities. To our knowledge, only one Court of Appeals has ruled upon the constitutionality of the 1970 Act as an exercise of Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause. United States v. Lopez, 459 F.2d 949 (5th Cir. May 11, 1972). This issue, however, was firmly resolved by several Courts reviewing convictions under the statutory provisions which preceded the present Act.

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55 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Tucker, Nos. 95-1160
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 25 Julio 1996
    ...circuit upheld federal criminalization of intrastate drug dealing under the Commerce Clause before Lopez, see United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 375 (6th Cir.1972), as has every jurisdiction that has considered the issue after Lopez, see United States v. Lerebours, 87 F.3d 582, 584-85 (......
  • United States v. Martinez, No. 72-2685.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 14 Agosto 1973
    ...States v. Morado, 454 F.2d 167, 175 (5th Cir. 1972). 19 United States v. Simpson, 481 F.2d 582 (5th Cir. 1973); United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 376 (6th Cir. 20 United States v. Lopez, 459 F.2d 949 (5th Cir. 1972); United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 375 (6th Cir. 1972). --------i......
  • US v. Wilson, No. 94-CR-140.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • 16 Marzo 1995
    ...v. Esposito, 492 F.2d 6 (7th Cir.1973), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1135, 94 S.Ct. 879, 38 L.Ed.2d 760 (1974), citing, United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371 (6th Cir.1972), this can be explained by the Congressional finding that "it was impossible to distinguish between substances manufactured a......
  • US v. Walker, No. 3-94-CR-328.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • 26 Septiembre 1995
    ...of some connection with interstate commerce"), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1135, 94 S.Ct. 879, 38 L.Ed.2d 760 (1974); United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 374-76 (6th Cir.1972) (same); United States v. Lopez, 459 F.2d 949, 952-53 (5th Cir.1972) (same), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 878, 93 S.Ct. 130,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
55 cases
  • U.S. v. Tucker, Nos. 95-1160
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 25 Julio 1996
    ...circuit upheld federal criminalization of intrastate drug dealing under the Commerce Clause before Lopez, see United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 375 (6th Cir.1972), as has every jurisdiction that has considered the issue after Lopez, see United States v. Lerebours, 87 F.3d 582, 584-85 (......
  • United States v. Martinez, No. 72-2685.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 14 Agosto 1973
    ...States v. Morado, 454 F.2d 167, 175 (5th Cir. 1972). 19 United States v. Simpson, 481 F.2d 582 (5th Cir. 1973); United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 376 (6th Cir. 20 United States v. Lopez, 459 F.2d 949 (5th Cir. 1972); United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 375 (6th Cir. 1972). --------i......
  • US v. Wilson, No. 94-CR-140.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • 16 Marzo 1995
    ...v. Esposito, 492 F.2d 6 (7th Cir.1973), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1135, 94 S.Ct. 879, 38 L.Ed.2d 760 (1974), citing, United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371 (6th Cir.1972), this can be explained by the Congressional finding that "it was impossible to distinguish between substances manufactu......
  • US v. Walker, No. 3-94-CR-328.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
    • 26 Septiembre 1995
    ...connection with interstate commerce"), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1135, 94 S.Ct. 879, 38 L.Ed.2d 760 (1974); United States v. Scales, 464 F.2d 371, 374-76 (6th Cir.1972) (same); United States v. Lopez, 459 F.2d 949, 952-53 (5th Cir.1972) (same), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 878, 93 S.Ct. 130, 34......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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