Fifth Circuit Tanksley Decision Another Johnson-Based Reversal of
Drug Offense Texas
Appellant Dantana Tanksley pled guilty to felony drug possession, and at sentence was advised that his previous
drug conviction qualified as a "controlled substance offense" under
US Sentencing Commissions Guidelines. Previous Texas
law had held that his prior qualified under the guidelines. Texas
However, Mathis v. US changed the law, and the court held that the underlying
drug delivery statute, 481.112(a) was divisible., defining two crimes:
possession with intent to deliver (which qualified for the enhancement under
the Guidelines, ), and mere delivery, which did not. Mathis held that this approach was proper
only when the statute list element in the alternative. "Mathis is 'more
than merely illuminating with respect to the case before us,' it unequivocally
resolves the question in favor of Tanksley,'" the Fifth Circuit said. Texas
The case also rejected the government's fall-back defense of "harmless error," ruling that nothing the district court said substantiated that defense, and the Fifth Circuit refused to bail out the government. The court reversed the sentence and remanded for resentencing.
This particular case is yet another in the line of Johnson-related cases that have granted prisoner relief.