DEAL v. UNITED STATES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
91-8199
Petitioner 
Deal
Respondent 
United States
Advocates
(Department of Justice, argued the cause for the United States)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

Between January and April 1990, Thomas Lee Deal committed six bank robberies. In each robbery, he used a gun. Subsequently, Deal was convicted, in a single proceeding, of six counts of carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 USC section 924(c)(1). Section 924(c)(1) prescribes a 5-year prison term for the first such conviction, in addition to the punishment provided for the crime of violence, and requires a 20-year sentence "in the case of [a] second or subsequent conviction under this subsection." The District Court sentenced Deal to 5 years' imprisonment on the first section 924(c)(1) count and to 20 years on each of the five other counts, the terms to run consecutively. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Question 

Does a criminal's second through sixth convictions under section 924(c)(1) in a single proceeding arise "in the case of his second or subsequent conviction" within the meaning of section 924(c)(1)?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for United States, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 18 U.S.C. 924

Yes. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that Deal's second through sixth convictions in a single proceeding arose "in the case of his second or subsequent conviction" within the meaning of section 924(c)(1), finding that the statute was not ambiguous. The Court rejected that the rule of lenity applied because Deal's "105-year sentence 'is so glaringly unjust.'" Writing for the court, Justice Scalia said the 105 years sentence for the gun offenses was not unjust "simply because [Deal] managed to evade detection, prosecution and conviction for the first five offenses and was ultimately tried for all six in a single proceeding." Justice Stevens wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Harry A. Blackmun joined.

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DEAL v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 01 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1992/1992_91_8199>.
DEAL v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1992/1992_91_8199 (last visited September 1, 2014).
"DEAL v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 1, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1992/1992_91_8199.