Tuesday, January 16, 2007

US v. Ressam, No. 05-30422 (1-16-07). This is a terrorism case. The defendant was convicted of bringing explosives across the border. He was convicted at trial, cooperated, ended cooperation, and ended up with a sentence of 22 years (he was facing 65). The government appealed the sentence as unreasonable; and defendant appealed a conviction that imposed a mandatory ten years because he had explosives while committing another felony. The 9th fastened on the conviction, holding that there must be a relational tie between having the explosives and committing the underlying felony (here, a false statement). The 9th 's interpretation runs counter to two other circuits, but it constrained by precedent (precedent penned by then Judge Kennedy) in US v. Stewart, 779 F.2d 538 (9th Cir. 1985), overruled in part on there grounds by US v. Hernandez, 80 F.3d 1253 (9th Cir. 1996). Rymer, joined by Berzon, stressed that Stewart, dealing with a firearms statute, required an "in relation to" tie to the other felony for the mandatory term to be triggered. In dissent, Alarcon argued that Stewart has been long overruled. The result of the reversal on that count is to return the case for resentencing, which will be post-Rita/Claiborne, and post-Carty/Zavala.

Congrats to FPD Tom Hillier and AFPD Michael Filipovic of the W.D. Wa (Seattle) for the win.

US v. Ramirez, No. 05-50165 (1-16-07). The 9th affirms the doctrine of "collective knowledge" in one officer knowing facts that result in probable cause asking another officer to stop a car and make an arrest. This was an ongoing drug investigation, and the 9th affirmed the denial of suppression, holding that the team investigating the defendants had sufficient probable cause to order a warrantless stop of a car by another officer in the same department. The 9th declines to require that the content of probable cause or suspicion be transmitted to the stopping officer; it is enough that one officer has it. O'Scannlain was joined by Bybee. Kozinski concurred to stress what the case was not, which was an officer lacking probable cause asking another to come up with something. Here, the officer had probable cause, and asked the arresting officer to make it seem like a traffic stop because of officer safety.


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