Garcia-Aguilar v. U.S. District Court for So. Calif , et al., No. 07-70293 (8-6-08). The 9th held that the Court must accept unconditional guilty pleas. This is a mandamus with consolidated cases. The defendants were charged with 1326, but the government had not specifically charged that they had been removed after conviction of a felony under 1326(b)(2). They plead straight up to 1326 before a magistrate judge. Before sentencing, the 9th ruled in Covian-Sandoval that Apprendi applies. The government argued that the district court should not accept the plea because the colloquy incorrectly stated that the max was 20 years and not 2 years. The 9th (Kozinski joined by McKeown and Jones) said this was disingenuous; the government failed to allege what it should have, and the defendants had the right to have their pleas accepted. The 9th does state that these cases "show again why the ten most terrifying words in the English language may be, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.'" (9912). This quote might get cited a lot.
Congratulations to AFPDs Zandra Lopez, Michelle Betancourt, and Shaffy Moeel of the Federal Defenders of San Diego.
U.S. v. Flores-Villar, No. 07-50445 (8-6-08). Fathers get no respect, at least from Congress in derivative citizenship. Here, the defendant was charged with 1326, but argued that he was a U.S. citizen because of his father. His father and noncitizen mother were not married, and his father was 16-years old. The father acknowledged the defendant and the defendant moved to San Diego when he was 2 months old and was raised by his grandmother and father. Unfortunately, the law requires that the father have resided in the U.S. for 5 years after his 14th birthday to confer citizenship. However, a mother only had to have one year of residency. The defendant brought an equal protection challenge based on gender and age. The 9th (Rymer joined by Hall and Kleinfeld) affirmed the conviction and denied the challenge. Congress, reasoned the 9th, could draw these bright line distinctions which are easy to administer. The Supremes had upheld such line-drawing in Nguyen v. INS regarding legitimation procedures; and the logic also supports the residency requirements here.