United States v. West, No. 11-3070 (10th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
A confidential informant purchased controlled substances from Defendant Willie West in controlled buys. Some of these purchases occurred at Defendant's apartment in Lawrence, Kansas, which was within 1000 feet of Holcom Park. A grand jury indicted Defendant on one count of possessing marijuana within 1000 feet of a public playground with an intent to distribute, and one count of maintaining a place within 1000 feet of a public playground for the purpose of distributing marijuana. The issue before the Tenth Circuit was whether Holcom Park was a statutory "playground" within the meaning of 21 U.S.C. secs. 841(a) and 860(a). At the close of the Government's case, Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing the evidence failed to establish that Holcom Park was a "playground." The district court denied Defendant's motion. The jury subsequently returned a verdict of guilty on all counts. In denying Defendant's subsequent motion for a new trial, the district court referenced the Government's argument that "[e]ven if the jury found the [jungle gyms] constituted one apparatus, . . . the . . .baseball diamonds, volleyball courts, and Holcom’s other amenities are each apparatus intended for the recreation of children." Defendant appealed, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed.