Tuesday, February 07, 2017

U.S. v. Peralta-Sanchez (9th Cir. - Feb.7, 2017)

It's an important case.  Affecting thousands of people every year.

It also involves an important right.  Whether you have a right to an attorney (at your own expense) before being removed from the United States.

The voting line-up is also not surprising given the panel draw.

Judge Bybee, joined by Judge Randy Smith, believes that non-citizens who are caught in the United States and subjected to expedited removal proceedings are not entitled to hire a lawyer at their own expense to defend themselves in those proceedings.

Judge Pregerson dissents, and believes that they possess such a right under the Due Process Clause.

Everyone admits that aliens in the United States possess Due Process rights.  The dispute is about precisely what process is due.

Now, the underlying facts don't matter (at all) to this constitutional issue.  The right to counsel, if it exists, protects "bad" people as well as "good ones".

But I'm confident Judge Pregerson would nonetheless have appreciated it if the underlying facts in this case were slightly different.  Here's this particular individual's history:

"Peralta’s criminal history, including a history of immigration offenses, is extensive. In 1982, Peralta was arrested in Bakersfield, California, under the name Gabriel Sanchez for arson, although these charges were eventually dismissed. He was arrested in 1983 under the same name, again for arson. In 1990, he was arrested in Fresno under the name Rufino Peralta-Sanchez for giving a false identification to a peace officer. Between 1990 and 1996, Peralta collected a string of driving under the influence (DUI) convictions: five misdemeanor convictions and a 1996 felony DUI conviction for which he was sentenced to 16 months in prison. As a result of the 1996 felony DUI conviction, the thenImmigration and Naturalization Service (INS) issued Peralta a Notice to Appear, charging him as removable for having been convicted of an aggravated felony “crime of violence.” Peralta was ordered removed on June 7, 1999.

Peralta returned regularly to the United States. In January 2000, he was again convicted of felony DUI, as well as possession of cocaine, for which he was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Following this conviction, Peralta was convicted of misdemeanor illegal reentry. After serving his sentence, Peralta’s 1999 removal order was reinstated in December 2001, and he was again removed from the United States. Undeterred, Peralta entered the United States again and was convicted of felony reentry in October 2002, for which he received 30 months in prison. After serving this sentence, his 1999 order of removal was again reinstated in July 2004, and he was again removed from the United States. After another illegal reentry, the 1999 deportation order was again reinstated on May 23, 2012, and Peralta was again removed. Three days later, Peralta was again apprehended by Border Patrol agents one mile north of the border, hiding in the brush with two others. He immediately admitted to being a Mexican citizen with no legal documents to enter the United States and, in a post-arrest interview, admitted that he had entered the United States by walking through the desert with the intent to travel to Los Angeles to find work. On July 17, 2012, Peralta was charged with and convicted of misdemeanor illegal reentry and sentenced to time served. He was ordered removed via expedited removal proceeding and removed on July 18. On July 22, Peralta returned again, was arrested, and in November 2012, was convicted of felony illegal reentry and sentenced to 21 months in prison. He was removed on January 30, 2014, and returned on March 7, 2014, bringing us back to this case, which arises out of Peralta’s arrest on March 8, 2014.

FN - In sum, from what we can tell from the record, Peralta has at least eight felony arrests (1982, 1983, 1990, 1996, 2000, 2002 (2), and 2014) and five misdemeanor DUI convictions, and he has been removed from the United States at least four times (1999, 2001, 2004, and 2012)."

Yeah.  You might want better facts than that.  Even with respect to a matter that involves a pure issue of law.  Purely as a matter of atmospherics.