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United States v. Coleman

June 15, 2006; as amended June 22, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
EDWARD COLEMAN A/K/A JOHN LONG, EDWARD COLEMAN, APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Criminal Action No. 04-cr-00097) District Judge: Honorable Petrese B. Tucker.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambro, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) April 27, 2006.

Before: AMBRO and FUENTES, Circuit Judges, and IRENAS,*fn1 District Judge.

OPINION OF THE COURT

Edward Coleman appeals from a judgment of conviction and sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He contends first that the Prosecutorial Remedies and Tools Against the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003 ("PROTECT Act"), Pub. L. No. 108-21, 117 Stat. 650, is unconstitutional insofar as it changed the structure of the United States Sentencing Commission to allow the President to appoint all Commission members from within the Executive Branch, as opposed to the former system under which at least three members were federal judges. Id. § 401(n) (amending 28 U.S.C. § 991(a)) (hereafter, the "Feeney Amendment").*fn2 He also asserts that, because prior convictions increased the statutory minimum sentence for his crimes, those convictions should have been charged in the indictment and proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the Government's failure to do so violated the Sixth Amendment. We find Coleman's arguments unpersuasive, and therefore affirm.

I. Factual Background and Procedural History

In June 2003, a Philadelphia police officer stopped Coleman's vehicle. As he approached the driver's side of the car, the officer saw that Coleman had a gun. The officer ordered Coleman and the passengers out of the car, but Coleman drove away at a high rate of speed. He crashed the car shortly thereafter and fled on foot. When police arrived, they discovered Coleman's driver's license (bearing an alias, "John Long"), over $1,200 in cash, and a loaded handgun with an obliterated serial number in the car. Police subsequently located Coleman at his girlfriend's house and arrested him. During a search of his person, police discovered cocaine and the prescription drug Xanax.

Coleman was arraigned and released on bail. In September 2003, police officers observed him driving a car without a license plate. When they attempted to stop the car, Coleman fled on foot. He was apprehended shortly thereafter, and in a subsequent search of his vehicle police discovered a loaded handgun and crack cocaine.

Coleman was indicted on five counts. The first three counts stemmed from the June 2003 arrest, and charged him with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and possession of a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844. Counts Four and Five stemmed from the September 2003 arrest, and likewise charged him with unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance. Pursuant to Coleman's motion to sever the indictment, he was tried on Counts One through Three in July 2004; the jury convicted him on each one. He then pled guilty to Counts Four and Five.

At sentencing, the District Court determined that Coleman had five prior convictions (four for drug trafficking and one for a violent felony), and thus qualified as an armed career criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). This increased the statutory minimum for his firearm possession offenses to at least 15 years in prison. Id. In light of his designation as an armed career criminal, the District Court applied U.S.S.G. § 4B1.4 and correctly calculated a recommended sentencing range for his firearm possession offenses of 235-293 months in prison. The Court decided that this advisory range was in accord with the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), and after considering those factors and the advisory range, sentenced Coleman to 240 months in prison on Counts One and Four (the firearm possession charges), with a concurrent sentence of 36 months in prison on the remaining drug possession counts.*fn3 He appeals.

II. Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

The District Court had subject matter jurisdiction over this case under 18 U.S.C. § 3231. We exercise jurisdiction over Coleman's appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and (to the extent he contends his sentence was imposed in violation of law) 18 U.S.C. § 3742. Since Coleman raises purely legal issues of statutory and constitutional interpretation, ...


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