Thursday, March 23, 2006

U.S. v. Rodriguez-Rodriguez (9th Cir. - March 22, 2006)

Ah, now I get it. It was confusing before. But now it's all so clear. How absurd of me to think otherwise.

Rodriguez-Rodriguez was convicted of illegal reentry after being deported, and is sentenced to over 6 years in (a U.S.) prison as a result. Plus three years of supervised release. One of his release conditions says that, after he is released -- at which point he'll be deported to Mexico -- he is required to present himself to the probation officer within 72 hours of any reentry into the United States.

To which Rodriguez-Rodriguez says: "Hey, this violates my right against self-incrimination. My release terms say you'll throw me back in prison if I come back into the U.S. and don't immediately go to my P.O. But if I do go to my P.O., once I show up, you'll know I'm back in the U.S., at which you'll throw me back into prison for illegal reentry! You're making me incriminate myself by showing up!"

But Judge Beezer's opinion quickly explains why Rodriguez-Rodriguez is totally mistaken. Judge Beezer says that there's a special provision -- 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a)(2)(A) -- that lets even people like Rodriguez-Rodriguez come back into the U.S. as long as they've gotten advance consent from the Attorney General. (Which I'm just sure that R-R is going to get!) So you see, Judge Beezer says, your showing up won't incriminate yourself, because it doesn't necessarily mean that you're there illegally. After all, maybe you got consent. So it's a totally cool condition.

Ah, yes. That makes total sense. Similarly, it wouldn't violate your right against self-incrimination for a court to impose the following condtion either: "Anytime you shoot, stab, or kill anyone, you are required to report immediately to the Probation Office." Because, after all, sometimes it's okay to shoot, stab, or kill people; for example, in self-defense. So ordering someone to show up once they've done so totally doesn't violate their Fifth Amendment rights, since maybe they've done so legally. That order doesn't require them to incriminate themselves -- by their mere (potentially blood-covered) presence -- at all.

I was so confused before. Now I understand. Thanks for the doctrinal explication. Makes total, total sense.