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7th Circuit again reverses drug sentence for minor role reduction

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A man convicted of a federal charge that he transported drug money will be sentenced a third time after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in a nonprecedential opinion that a resentencing the court ordered in 2010 did not sufficiently consider his minor role compared with conspirators.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana sentenced Cruz Saenz to 252 months in prison on remand from the 7th Circuit, which in 2010 vacated his sentence of 293 months and remanded  because there was no evidence to support denial of a minor role reduction under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Section 3B1.2

The panel ruled in U.S. v. Cruz Saenz, 07-CR-125,  that Saenz was entitled to another resentencing. “The district court did not compare Saenz’s culpability to that of the average member of the conspiracy, which was error,” the court ruled.

“Because of the error, and because it is not clear that Saenz would have received the same 252-month sentence had the minor role reduction been applied, we vacate his sentence and remand.”

Saenz was involved with other co-defendants in a cocaine smuggling network based in Mexico, whose Texas operators arranged to ship the drugs to Indianapolis. Saenz was arrested after he transported $500,000 in drug money to Texas, and a jury convicted him of conspiring to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine.

In his second sentence appeal, the 7th Circuit emphasized that there was no evidence Saenz touched drugs or participated in deals, and that it was incumbent on the District Court in sentencing to measure his culpability against others who, with one exception, received far lesser sentences. Saenz, however, is required to have a minimum sentence of 240 months in prison due to a prior felony drug offense.

“However the district court wishes to determine whether the minor role reduction applies, it must make some explicit or implicit finding concerning the culpability of the average member of the conspiracy,” the court ruled. “Next the district court should determine what might represent the culpability of the average member of the conspiracy and then compare it to Saenz’s culpability.”

 

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  1. Other than a complete lack of any verifiable and valid historical citations to back your wild context-free accusations, you also forget to allege "ate Native American children, ate slave children, ate their own children, and often did it all while using salad forks rather than dinner forks." (gasp)

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  4. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

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