Tuesday, February 08, 2022

U.S. v. Mendoza (9th Cir. - Feb. 8, 2022)

Here's one of those rare opinions that reverses a criminal conviction -- several of them, actually -- for insufficient evidence.

Judge Bea's opinion is pretty darn comprehensive, as well as persuasive.  It's far from a clear-cut case, but I think Judge Bea is spot on in his (extensive) evaluation of the evidence on both sides.  (With one caveat:  I'd have liked to read a bit more discussion of the "police scanner" fact, which the opinion mentions but pretty much otherwise elides.)

I also liked the opening gambit of the opinion, which reads:  "Every parent knows that teenagers make mistakes. A fifteen-year-old Henry Mendoza was no exception, though his error was far more serious than most."  That's a sentiment far too uncommon in modern parlance -- judicial and otherwise.

Even after the opinion, Mr. Mendoza's still convicted of a federal offense. But he's going to serve a lot less time than the 15 years in prison for which he was originally sentenced.