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United States v. Estrada-Mederos

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 29, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee.
v.
MARCOS ESTRADA-MEDEROS, Defendant-Appellant

Argued February 12, 2015

Page 1087

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13 CR 833--James F. Holderman, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Minnie Yuen, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Marcos Estrada-Mederos, Defendant - Appellant: Michelle L. Jacobs, Attorney, Biskupic & Jacobs, S.C., Mequon, WI.

Before EASTERBROOK, KANNE, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1088

Hamilton, Circuit Judge

Defendant Marcos Estrada-Mederos pled guilty to illegal reentry for being found in the United States after having been previously deported following conviction for an aggravated felony. See 8 U.S.C. § 1326. He was given a within-guideline sentence of 57 months in prison. He appeals his sentence, challenging the district court's failure to address his principal arguments for mitigation. We reverse and remand because one of his three arguments for mitigation had recognized legal merit, and we cannot conclude from the record that the district court considered it.

Estrada-Mederos argued for a below-guideline sentence for three reasons: first, the government's delay in charging made him ineligible for a sentence concurrent with a sentence from a state conviction and failed to give him credit for time spent in immigration detention; second, the 16-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A) is unfairly severe for the illegal reentry of a defendant who has a drug trafficking conviction; third, Estrada-Mederos will face unusual hardships because he is a deportable alien, which is of course true of anyone convicted of illegal reentry. The district court imposed a guideline sentence with only the tersest explanation.

The defendant's second and third arguments did not require explicit comment by the district court. Both arguments failed to address the defendant's individual circumstances. They were in effect blanket challenges to the applicable Guidelines. While a district court certainly has discretion to consider such challenges to the Sentencing Commission's policy choices, a court can reject them without addressing them expressly when explaining its sentence. E.g., United States v. Schmitz, 717 F.3d 536, 542 (7th Cir. 2013) (collecting cases); United States v. Ramirez-Fuentes, 703 F.3d 1038, 1047-48 (7th Cir. 2013) (status as deportable alien); United States v. Mendoza, 576 F.3d 711, 722 (7th Cir. 2009) (status as deportable alien); United States v. Aguilar-Huerta, 576 F.3d 365, 367-68 (7th Cir. 2009) (16-level increase for illegal reentry after aggravated felony). We say no more about these arguments.

Much stronger, however, is defendant's first argument, that the court should have reduced his sentence because the delay in charging him effectively denied him the ability to receive credit toward his federal criminal sentence for the months he spent in state custody and then in federal immigration custody. The district court was not required to accept this argument, but it was required at least to address it. We vacate defendant's sentence and remand for resentencing.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

A. Defendant's Detention

Defendant's detention before he was charged and taken into federal criminal custody is central to his argument for a lower sentence. In November 2011, defendant was arrested in Waukegan, Illinois, by local police. While he was in state custody shortly after his arrest, he was told by a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent that ICE had placed " a hold" on him (likely a federal immigration detainer, DHS Form I-247). If he posted bail, ...


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