Thursday, October 09, 2014

[Ed. note -- Jon asked me to fill in for a few days while he's out of the office.]

US v. Morales Heredia, No. 12-50331 (Wardlaw with Kozinski and Fisher) ---

Do you have fast-track in your district?  Do you have stipulated sentences?  Do you have plea agreements?  If so, you should read this opinion.  The 9th holds that the prosecutor breached the fast track plea, the stipulated sentence, and the plea agreement, when, in recommending acceptance of the plea in the government's sentencing memo, nonetheless highlighted the defendant's criminal record, actions, and disregard for the law.  In finding breach of the plea, and remanding to a different judge, the 9th makes it clear that the government, when offering a fast track with a stipulated sentence, can't denigrate the defendant.  It must stand by the plea.

The opinion is significant for its clear holding.  It is also significant for its explanation of fast track, and what the government gets out of it.  In the 9th's reading, the government gets a lot in exchange for this mitigated sentence.  The 9th goes through its cases on plea breaches, and how the prosecutor can't undermine the stipulation it entered into.

Interestingly, the 9th also pointed out that the plea had a stipulation to three years of supervised release.  The 9th arched an eyebrow in pointing out that the Sentencing Commission disfavored such terms in immigration cases.  It seems the 9th is looking askance at the pro forma  imposition of supervision in these type of cases except for very good reasons.

Congratulations to DFPD Jonathan Libby of the Central District of California.

The opinion is here:


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