ADVANTAGES

According to the Morning News, "Angelos, the founder of the Utah-based rap music label Extravagant Records, initially faced at least a 61 1/2-year sentence for the 16 criminal counts of which he was convicted in December. The bulk of that term -- the 55 years imposed Tuesday -- is based on just three firearms charges for carrying a gun during two drug sales and for keeping additional firearms at his Fort Union apartment. Cassell imposed just one day for the additional 13 drug, firearm and money-laundering charges. The case has garnered the attention of legal experts across the country, who have been following Cassell's moves since June, when he declared the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional in the case of a Utah man convicted of child pornography. That ruling came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that called the constitutionality of the guidelines into question. Mooney, joined by 29 former legal officials from across the nation, had asked Cassell to find that the onerous mandatory-minimum term in the Angelos case constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The defense also argued the firearm statute is not applied equally to all criminal defendants, a violation of Angelos' equal-protection rights. And although Cassell appeared to agree with the defense on nearly every point, the judge, in a lengthy opinion released immediately following Tuesday's hearing, said his analysis failed to meet the legal threshold required to find a statute unconstitutional. Thus, he said, he was required to impose the 'Draconian' prison sentence."

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