Wednesday, September 16, 2015

U.S. v. Rosales-Gonzales (9th Cir. - Sept. 16, 2015)

Guadalupe Rosales-Gonzales was previously deported but was in the United States, so the United States charged him with this offense.  The parties struck a deal and jointly requested that he be given ninth months in prison.

The district judge, Larry Burns (down here in San Diego), had some "preliminary thoughts" on the deal.  Namely, that it was absurd.

Judge Burns first wanted to know why the deal was to give defendant nine months in prison when he had been previously convicted of this same offense and given 14 months in prison.  Shouldn't your second offense at least subject you to more time than the first?

That made sense to the government.  Or at least they realized the likely futility of arguing otherwise.

So the U.S. decided to ask for 15 months rather than 9.  One more month than the guy got last time.

But Judge Burns still wasn't satisfied.  Even with the extra month.  And wanted to know why 15 months was an appropriate sentence for someone who'd been deported 35 times.

To which the U.S. could respond only that the defendant had quickly entered a guilty plea, waived all appeals, and efficiently resolved the matter.  So from the government's perspective, 15 months was an appropriate sentence.

Judge Burns nonetheless sentenced Mr. Rosales-Gonzales to 27 months.

Defendant appealed.  But the Ninth Circuit affirms.  Sentence recommendations aren't binding.  A district court don't have to follow a fast-track deal.

Makes sense to me.