U.S. v. Trujillo

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 04-16-2013
  • Case #: 11-50353
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior Circuit Judge Canby for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Wardlaw
  • Full Text Opinion

District courts are not jurisdictionally barred from hearing 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) motions; however in denying such a motion under § 3553(a) the court must give sufficient explanation; and the Ex Post Facto Clause does not prohibit an upward departure in sentencing so long as the original sentence is not exceeded.

Rodolfo Trujillo was convicted of conspiracy to distribute and of possessing with intent to sell 2,915 kilograms of cocaine in 1993. He was sentenced to thirty years imprisonment. A retroactive amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines lowered the offense level applicable to Trujillo but allowed for upward departure from the new level for cases involving excessive quantities of drugs. Trujillo moved on two occasions for a reduction of sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The district court denied both motions as the amendment justified the upward departure due to the excessive amount of drugs involved. On appeal, the government argued that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the second motion and was barred from modifying a sentence term once it has been employed. Trujillo argued that the district court violated the Ex Post Facto Clause by employing the upward departure. The Ninth Circuit held that there is no jurisdictional bar in 18 U.S.C. § 3582 preventing the district court from entertaining the § 3582(c)(2) motion, and the government waived any non-jurisdictional challenges to the second motion if it failed to object. Additionally, the panel vacated the district court's order because it failed to give sufficient reason for its rejection of Trujillo's § 3553 arguments. Finally, the panel held that employing the upward departure did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause as it simply retained the same sentence Trujillo already received. VACATED and REMANDED.

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