Wednesday, March 29, 2017

U.S. v. Pascencia-Orozco (9th Cir. - March 29, 2017)

This is one of those rare opinions in which the Ninth Circuit may actually understate the defendant's culpability.

Judge Bea begins his opinion by saying:

"We seldom run into a “frequent flyer” as “frequent” as appellant. Over his 46-year career as an illegal entrant, he has been deported or removed dozens of times. But what makes him stand out as a “cara dura” is not only that on some of these entries, he used the name and stolen documents of an innocent father of five, but that he now testifies before the wife and mother that he actually fathered two of the innocent’s children. Despite the numerous grounds he now urges on appeal, we affirm."

All true.

But when you read the rest of the opinion, you learn that it's not just illegal entry and identity theft that's at issue.  "Between 1971 and 2011, Plascencia was similarly removed from the United States at least twenty more times and was convicted of at least eleven separate immigration offenses."  That's a pretty hefty record.  Nor is this a mere illegal reentry case.  "In January 2008, Plascencia attempted to enter the United States at the Calexico Port of Entry in California. When asked for identification, Plascencia presented Del Muro’s birth certificate. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers then searched Plascencia’s car and found over one hundred kilograms of marijuana hidden inside."  That's a lot of weed.

I won't explain in detail how Plascencia keeps using different names, or keeps successfully switching attorneys prior to trial, or how he seems very "off" during his discussions with his lawyers, but it's safe to say that Judge Bea is correct that this is definitely both an unusual case and an unusual guy.

Which is in part why he gets sentenced to over 15 years in prison.

No small sentence.