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Legal Community
Appellate News

Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. takes great pride in our outstanding advocacy for our clients before the trial courts as well as on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Recent appellate successes of FDSDI attorneys include:


· United States v. Miguel-Mariano, 2016 WL 7422716 (9th Cir. December 23, 2016). The Ninth Circuit remanded for resentencing because the district court improperly treated the prior Nevada coercion conviction as a “crime of violence” warranting a 16-level sentencing enhancement under the Guidelines.


· United States v. Santos-Cordero, 2016 WL 5404068 (9th Cir. September 28, 2016). The Ninth Circuit remanded the case to the district court to conduct a proper analysis under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), because the district court improperly offered its own speculative reason as to why the prosecutor may have challenged the juror.

· United States v. Soto-Zuniga, 837 F.3d 992 (9th Cir. 2016).  The Ninth Circuit vacated Mr. Soto’s conviction and remanded to the district court to grant a discovery request challenging the constitutionality of the San Clemente checkpoint and to order the government to disclose its  investigation into a smuggler’s use of juveniles. The defendant was stopped at the San Clementine immigration checkpoint. The officer supposedly suspected the defendant, a lawful permanent resident, was smoking marijuana, and a subsequent search found methamphetamine in a backpack. The defendant challenged the constitutionality of the checkpoint search, asking for statistics of drug arrests versus immigration interdictions.  The court denied the request under Armstrong. The court also denied disclosure to the defense of a government investigation into a smuggling operation using juveniles. The defendant had argued that he had picked up juveniles who left the backpack in the vehicle. The Ninth Circuit found the defendant had made sufficient showing under Armstrong of a need for statistics to challenge the constitutionality of the checkpoint stop.  The defendant was also entitled to the investigation to support his theory that someone else was responsible, even if the discovery was replete with hearsay.


· United States v. Nevarez, 659 Fed. App’x 417 (9th Cir. August 15, 2016).  The Ninth Circuit vacated Mr. Nevarez’s conviction because the district court improperly admitted statements made by his daughter in a recorded jail call against him at trial.  The district court failed to make the prerequisite factual findings before admitting the statement as an adoptive admission and even had the district court made such findings, they would be wrong because Mr. Nevarez never adopted his daughter’s statements as his own.

· United States v. Chaker, 654 Fed. App’x 891 (9th Cir. July 6, 2016).  The Ninth Circuit vacated the sentence and reversed the revocation of Mr. Chaker’s supervised release.  The Court found that Mr. Chaker’s actions in writing a blog post critical of a former member of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department did not constitute harassment and therefore did not violate the condition of supervised release that he not stalk and/or harass other individuals.  Also, the Court held that the government failed to prove that the blog post satisfied the elements of defamation.

· United States v. Escobar, 652 Fed. App’x 561 (9th Cir. June 17, 2016). The Ninth Circuit vacated the supervised release portion of the sentence because, upon resentencing, the district court imposed an additional year of supervised release without any explanation.  The Ninth Circuit instructed the district court to re-impose the original two-year term.


· United States v. Sanchez-Carrillo, 649 Fed. App’x 564 (9th Cir. May 9, 2016).  The Ninth Circuit vacated Mr. Sanchez’s sentence, and remanded to a different judge, because the district court acted improperly in reimposing the 70-month sentence during resentencing.  Specifically, the district court improperly made ex parte contact with the government’s expert witness to discuss the DEA-7 laboratory report, the district court itself conducted direct examination of that witness, and the district court never disclosed its ex parte contact with the expert witness.


· United States v. Argueta-Rosales, 819 F.3d 1149 (9th Cir. 2016). The Ninth Circuit vacated Mr. Argueta’s conviction because the district court, act as finder of fact at a bench trial, misapplied the relevant legal standards.  To convict, the judge had to find that the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Argueta crossed into the United States with the specific intent to enter free from official restraint.  The district court, however, used a different and incorrect standard—that Mr. Argueta knew he was crossing into the United States and knew he did not have permission to do so. 


· United States v. Massa, 647 Fed. App’x 718 (9th Cir. Apr. 1, 2016). The Ninth Circuit vacated the restitution award imposed on Mr. Massa because the district court erroneously accepted inflated loss estimates from the three victims.  The loss estimates were incorrect because they did not distinguish between losses caused by the initial sexual abuse and the losses caused by ongoing traffic in images of the abuse.


*The material found on this Web site is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered to be legal advice and is not guaranteed to be complete or up to date. Use of this Web site is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the user and Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc.. (FDSDI) or any of the firm's attorneys. Readers should not rely upon or act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. See full disclaimer.