Monday, August 21, 2017

U.S. v. Castillo-Mendez (9th Cir. - Aug. 21, 2017)

The sun may be disappearing (temporarily, anyway).  The United States may be headed by the former head of a reality show.  But even in the crazy world in which we live, some things do not change.

Like the Ninth Circuit having to consider illegal reentry convictions coming out of San Diego.

Those things happen all the time.  Usually they're not that complicated.  But here, the defendant has a neat defense:  he says he wanted to be caught by the border patrol, in order to escape the hands of his threatening coyote smugglers.

Well, okay then.  If that's true, then he's not guilty of attempted illegal reentry.  It's a factual dispute.  And the district court gave an erroneous instruction.  Which requires the conviction to be reversed.

Still, even though the defendant gets relief here, he still faces a retrial.  And even though I agree that it's not clear beyond a reasonable doubt that no jury would possibly acquit him, I still think the odds are against him in the retrial.

But at least the instructions will be correct.