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Date: 06-25-2021

Case Style:

State of Louisiana vs. Corderrel Cooksey a/k/a Cordarrel Cooksey

Case Number: 53,660-KA

Judge: Shonda Stone


Plaintiff's Attorney: CHARLES BLAYLOCK ADAMS
District Attorney

Assistant District Attorneys

Defendant's Attorney:

Shreveport LA Criminal Defense Lawyer Directory


Shreveport LA - Criminal defense attorney represented Corderell Cooksey with (1) possession
of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute; and (2) possession of more than 14 grams of marijuana charges.

Cooksey’s encounter with the police began as a traffic stop which the
police justified based on an inoperable light on his vehicle license plate. The
police saw loose marijuana in the car. Thereupon, the police searched the car
and found nearly 3,000 methamphetamine pills,1 more marijuana, $2,016
cash stuffed in a Crown Royal bag, and two digital scales. The
methamphetamine was divided among several separate plastic bags.

1 After the pills arrived at the crime lab, Randall Robillard, a forensic chemist,
began testing. Robillard was accepted as an expert in forensic chemistry in open court.
Robillard identified his certified report in open court and testified that to test a larger
quantity of drugs, he uses a hypergeometric sampling plan. This means that he takes the
total number of pills and the weight to get a specified number of tablets that need to be
tested so that there is 99 % confidence that at least 28 grams of the pills tested contains
the illegal substance. Robillard stated that the confidence level increases as more pills
are tested. In this case, Robillard tested 5 of the 2,923 pills. Robillard testified that those
pills were selected at random. Robillard was able to confirm that the total weight of the
pills collected was 695.7 grams and of the five pills tested, they were all positive for
methamphetamine. The loose vegetable material tested was confirmed to be 80.2 grams
and contained marijuana. 2
The appellant was charged with possession with intent to distribute
both the methamphetamine and the marijuana, and elected to go to jury trial.
Cooksey subsequently was convicted and sentenced as previously stated
herein. Special agent Paul Hursey, who was accepted at trial as an expert in
drug investigations, testified that the estimated street value of the
methamphetamine seized was between $14,000 and $23,000.
The trial court ordered a presentence investigative report (“PSIR”). At
the sentencing hearing, the trial court asked if Cooksey disagreed with any
of the assertions in the PSIR. In response, no material disagreements were
raised. The trial court noted that Cooksey has six children and has a good
relationship with them, and has a consistent work history. However, the trial
court also noted that the appellant had already accumulated a significant
criminal history aside from the matters for which he was convicted in this
case. In particular, at the time of Cooksey’s sentencing he: (1) had already
been convicted of misdemeanor theft, domestic abuse battery, and criminal
trespass; (2) had a separate, unrelated pending charge for possession with
intent to distribute schedule I controlled dangerous substances (the arrest
related to this charge occurred prior to the arrest for the instant offenses);
and (3) had separate, unrelated charges for distribution of schedule II
controlled dangerous substances and carrying a concealed weapon (the arrest
related to these charges occurred after the arrest for the instant offenses).
The sentencing range for La. R.S. 40:967(B)(1)(b) is 1 to 20 years of
incarceration at hard labor; the statute also authorizes a fine of up to
Generally, appellate courts apply a two-pronged test when reviewing a
sentence for excessiveness, to wit: (1) whether the trial court adequately
considered the sentencing guidelines established in La. C. Cr. P. art. 894.1;
and (2) whether the sentence is constitutionally excessive. State v. Gardner,
46,688 (La. App. 2 Cir. 11/2/11), 77 So. 3d 1052. However, if the defendant
fails to file a timely motion to reconsider sentence, he or she waives the right
to appellate review of the trial court’s consideration of the sentencing
guidelines. To that effect, La. C.Cr.P. art. 881.1(E) states:
Failure to make or file a motion to reconsider sentence or
to include a specific ground upon which a motion to
reconsider sentence may be based, including a claim of
excessiveness, shall preclude the state or the defendant
from raising an objection to the sentence or from urging
any ground not raised in the motion on appeal or review.
The right to appeal a sentence can be preserved by an oral motion to
reconsider at the sentencing hearing, or thereafter, by a written motion to
reconsider filed within 30 days after the sentencing. La. C.Cr. P. art. 881.1.
When a defendant fails to make a motion to reconsider sentence, the
appellate court’s review of the sentence is limited to a bare claim of
constitutional excessiveness. State v. Benson, 53,578 (La. App. 2 Cir.
11/10/2020), 305 So. 3d 135.
In this case, Cooksey did not object or make an oral motion to
reconsider sentence at the sentencing hearing, nor did he file a written
motion to consider sentence. He, therefore, waived his right to appeal
regarding the trial court’s consideration of the sentencing guidelines. 4
Constitutional excessiveness
Our review is limited to whether or not Cooksey’s sentence is
constitutionally excessive. On that point, Cooksey argues that State v.
Sharkey, 602 So. 2d 249 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1992), State v. Wyatt, 591 So. 2d
761 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1991), and State v. Tilley, 400 So. 2d 1363 (La. 1981),
necessitate a sentence of 10 years or less. Like the instant case, all three of
these cases involved defendants without prior felony convictions. In each
case cited, the initial sentences for offenses related to drug dealing were
deemed excessive on appeal. Also, all of these cases, like the instant case,
involved a series of drug sales or arrests for drug sales.
Before we discuss in detail the specific cases that Cooksey relies
upon, we must first set forth the general precepts of review for constitutional
excessiveness of a sentence. In State v. Sepulvado, 367 So. 2d 762 (La.
1979), the Louisiana Supreme Court held that the Louisiana Constitution of
1974 “gives the courts… a basis for determining that sentences…though not
cruel or unusual…are too severe as punishment for certain conduct and thus
unconstitutional.” A sentence can be constitutionally excessive, even when it
falls within statutory limits if: (1) the punishment is so grossly
disproportionate to the severity of the crime that, when viewed in light of the
harm done to society, it shocks the sense of justice; or (2) it serves no
purpose other than to needlessly inflict pain and suffering. State v. Dorthey,
623 So. 2d 1276 (La. 1993). The circumstances of the case and the
background of the defendant are relevant in making this determination. State
v. Sharkey, 602 So. 2d 249 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1992). The sentencing judge
may consider whatever facts and evidence he or she considers important in
determining the best interest of the public and the defendant. As a general 5
rule, maximum or near-maximum offenses are reserved for the worst
offenders and the worst offenses. State v. Sandifer, 53,276 (La. App. 2 Cir.
1/15/20), 289 So. 3d 212. However, the trial court has wide discretion to
sentence within statutory limits. State v. Sharkey, supra. The defendant must
show a manifest abuse of discretion to have a sentence set aside as
excessive. Id.
In State v. Sharkey, supra, Sharkey was convicted of two counts of
distribution of cocaine and received two concurrent 20-year hard labor
sentences; the maximum sentence for that crime was 30 years. The
convictions stemmed from two undercover drug buys by narcotics agents
which took place in February of 1991. In the first buy, an agent received
one rock of crack cocaine for $25 and in the second buy, the agent received
one rock of crack cocaine for $20. 1 There was also a third incident wherein
Sharkey sold the agent a rock of crack cocaine for $25; this charge was
dismissed as a result of Sharkey’s plea to the other two offenses. Sharkey
was a first-felony offender. Similar to the trial judge in this case, the judge
in Sharkey opined that the offenses posed significant harm to the public
because of the seriousness of selling drugs and that the likelihood of
recidivism was high due to the repeated incidences in that case. In holding
that Sharkey’s 20-year sentence was excessive, we noted that his criminal
record consisted of “relatively minor” misdemeanors, the most serious of
which was a purse snatching conviction in 1983. We also emphasized that
each drug transaction underlying Sharkey’s convictions involved one rock
worth no more than $25.2

2 The Sharkey opinion cited to many other cases where this Court found sentences
to be excessive based on the defendants’ backgrounds and criminal histories. See State v.6
In State v. Wyatt, supra, Wyatt, who was 36 years old at the time of
his offenses, was convicted of three counts of distribution of cocaine and
sentenced to concurrent 12-year sentences. These three counts arose from
two separate incidents that were five hours apart. In the first incident, Wyatt
sold one agent two rocks of crack cocaine for $40, and sold a second agent
an identical amount. In the second incident, another agent purchased two
additional rocks. All three of the undercover buyers were total strangers to
the defendant. In its reasoning, this Court noted that while the
circumstances indicated that Wyatt routinely sold “crack” for a profit, he
was capable of rehabilitation based on several factors: he was a high school
graduate, had served three years in the military (and was honorably
discharged), and worked for the same employer for 14 years. Further,
Wyatt’s criminal history, with the exception of DWIs, was over ten years
prior. He also had satisfactorily completed probation. This Court relied
heavily on State v. Tilley, supra, in finding that Wyatt’s sentence was
excessive and remanded the case for resentencing for a sentence not to
exceed 10 years at hard labor.
In State v. Tilley, supra, the supreme court vacated Tilley’s sentence
of 21 years for the conviction of distribution of cocaine, and held that the
maximum sentence constitutionally permissible under the circumstances
would be 10 years. Tilley was 18 years old at the time of the offense.
Characterizing Tilley as a “small fish” in the drug trade, the supreme court

Winston, 572 So. 2d 54 (La. 1991) (9-year sentence excessive); State v. Wyatt, supra (12-
year sentence excessive); State v. Miller, 587 So. 2d 125 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1991) (10-year
sentence excessive); State v. Smith, 576 So. 2d 105 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1991) (10-year
sentence excessive); State v. Cathey, 569 So. 2d 627 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1990) (14-year
sentence excessive); and State v. Strickland, 486 So. 2d 1015 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1986) (20-
year sentence excessive), on appeal after remand, 505 So. 2d 752 (La. App. 2 Cir. 1987). 7
noted that under circumstances similar to those presented, a permissible
sentencing range would be from the statutory minimum to ten years. Tilley
had approximately 34 packets containing cocaine and sold six to an
undercover officer for $60. When asked by the officer about other
substances, defendant claimed to be out of Dilaudid. Between the time of
the offense at issue and Tilley’s arrest, he sold another controlled dangerous
substance to the same officer. Additionally, a search of his residence
following his arrest yielded marijuana, for which Tilley was charged with
possession. Tilley was an 18-year-old high school dropout who had made
plans to pursue a GED. His employment history was steady and consistent
for someone his age with his educational background. Although he was
unmarried, he lived with his physically disabled mother. In addition to the
criminal activity outlined above, Tilley had two DWI convictions and an
outstanding third charge. Following his arrest, he registered at, and
continued to attend, a substance abuse clinic. The matter was remanded for
resentencing within the minimum to ten-year range.
In a more recent case, State v. Sandifer, supra, the defendant was a
first-felony offender involved in two drug transactions with undercover
officers. In the first transaction, she sold 28 grams of methamphetamine for
$700, and in the other she attempted to sell 113 grams of methamphetamine
for an agreed price of $2,450. These two offenses arose from a single course
of conduct. The defendant was convicted of one count of distributing
methamphetamine, and sentenced to 25 years; she was also convicted of
attempted distribution of methamphetamine and sentenced to 15 years. The
trial court ordered the sentences to run consecutively. Under the statutory
law in effect at the time of her offenses, the maximum possible sentences for 8
these crimes were 30 years and 15 years, respectively. The presentence
investigation report indicated that the defendant, at the time of sentencing,
had two pending charges for possession of drug paraphernalia. It also stated
that she was arrested for possession of methamphetamine (again) after being
released on bail for the subject offenses.
We vacated and remanded for resentencing on the ground that the
record did not justify consecutive sentences. In our instructions, we ordered
the trial court to resentence Sandifur with concurrent sentences, or
alternatively, if the court desired to again impose consecutive sentences,
state the reasons for doing so on the record.
Sharkey, supra, Tilley, supra, and Wyatt, supra, show that where the
defendant is a first-time felon who sold or attempted to sell only moderate
quantities of crack cocaine, a sentence of greater than 10 years may be
excessive, even if the defendant’s subject conviction or convictions are part
of a series of drug transactions. We see no reason to treat methamphetamine
differently. However, in this case, the record indicates that Cooksey
possessed a quantity of methamphetamine worth $14,000 to $23,000, which
must be characterized as a large amount. Indeed, Cooksey’s possession of
3,000 methamphetamine pills suggests that the he probably was higher in
chain of distribution than a mere retailer. Accordingly, the cases upon which
the appellant relies must be distinguished. This assignment of error lacks

Outcome: The appellant’s conviction and sentence are AFFIRMED.

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