STATE v. NEMIAH ALLAN, SC 18879
Judicial District of New Haven
Criminal; Whether the Appellate Court Correctly Refused to Adopt the Buyer-Seller Exception to a Charge of Conspiracy to Sell Drugs. The defendant was arrested for various narcotics offenses after police officers observed him make a drug transaction and engage in other activity consistent with drug dealing. The defendant then made certain confessions regarding the activities that the officers had observed. He admitted that the vehicle that the officers saw pull up to him was driven by his drug supplier, Kareem Thomas, whom he had called to “resupply” him with crack cocaine that he intended to sell. He further stated that Thomas failed to deliver the drugs as promised. The trial court convicted the defendant of conspiracy to sell narcotics by a person who is not drug-dependent. The defendant appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. The Appellate Court (131 Conn. App. 433) disagreed, concluding that the defendant’s statements to the police showed that he had intent to buy drugs from Thomas and had arranged to be resupplied with drugs. It stated that there was sufficient evidence of a conspiracy in light of such agreement and the overt acts that occurred, i.e., Thomas driving to meet the defendant, Thomas flashing his car lights to signal the defendant, the defendant’s walk to Thomas’ car and the ensuing conversation between the two. It also stated that Thomas’ failure to deliver the drugs was irrelevant because a breakdown of an agreement does not end the conspiracy. Moreover, the Appellate Court denied the defendant's request that it adopt the so-called federal "buyer-seller exception" in evaluating charges of conspiracy to sell narcotics on the ground that the defendant failed to provide any Connecticut authority endorsing such exception. Under the buyer-seller exception, a seller cannot be found to have joined a conspiracy with a buyer to advance the buyer's resale unless the seller encourages the venture or has an interest in bringing about its success. The defendant claims that this case falls within the exception because the state failed to present any evidence that Thomas (the seller) would benefit from any further distribution of drugs by the defendant (the buyer) or that the defendant intended to promote Thomas' drug distribution business. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly refused to apply the federal exception to the conspiracy charge.