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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. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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