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7th Circuit: judge erred when sentencing man

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered an Indiana District Court to take another look at a man’s sentence because the judge cited incorrect information during sentencing.

Juan Corona-Gonzalez was convicted of possession with intent to distribute, distribution of 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Corona-Gonzalez doesn’t appeal his convictions, but his 240-month sentence.

When he was being sentenced, then U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton made three references to Corona-Gonzalez being deported and returning to the U.S. to deal drugs. But Corona-Gonzalez had originally entered the country legally on a visa and had never been deported. It was his father who was deported following a drug conviction in 2002. The pre-sentence investigation report included that information about the father. Corona-Gonzalez was in the country illegally now because his visa had expired.

At no point during the hearing did Corona-Gonzalez or the government speak up about the inconsistency between the PSR and what the judge said.

Because he didn’t object at the time, the 7th Circuit reviewed the procedural error for plain error and found there was no question that a procedural error occurred during the hearing. This error also affected his substantial rights, wrote Judge Kenneth Ripple in United States of America v. Juan A. Corona-Gonzalez a/k/a Juan R. Ramirez, No. 09-3993.

“Having studied the record and listened to the arguments of counsel, we are left with the firm belief that there is a substantial chance that the district court’s misapprehension played a significant role in the adjudication of the defendant’s sentence,” wrote the judge. “The district court tells us so in the sentencing transcript. …In fact, in stating the reasons for imposing the chosen sentence, the very first factor the court addressed was the supposed removal and reentry.”

The judges decided Corona-Gonzalez deserves the opportunity to have the District Court reassess his sentence. They remanded for the lower court to look at his sentence without including the incorrect statements that he had been deported.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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