NACDL - Rosales-Mireles v. United States

Rosales-Mireles v. United States

Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, and National Association of Federal Defenders in Support of Petitioner and Urging Reversal.

Brief filed: 12/05/2017

Documents

Rosales-Mireles v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 16-9493

Prior Decision

Decision below 850 F.3d 246 (5th Cir. Mar. 6, 2017).

Question Presented

To meet the standard for plain error review, is it necessary, as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held, that the error be one that would “shock the conscience of the common man, serve as a powerful indictment against our system of justice, or seriously call into question the competence or integrity of the district judge”?

Argument

The Fifth Circuit’s refusal to reverse a sentence for plain error unless the result would “shock the conscience of the common man, serve as a powerful indictment against our system of justice, or seriously call into question the competence or integrity of the district judge” conflicts squarely with this Court’s decisions. Because Guidelines calculations often involve technical determinations cloaked in legal jargon, it is easy to lose sight of the human consequences of an erroneous calculation that produces an extended prison sentence, even of a few additional months. No erroneous judicial decision that produces additional prison time – even an amount of time that may, in the abstract, strike a judge as relatively trivial – can be considered acceptable.

Author(s)

John D. Cline, Law Office of John D. Cline, San Francisco, CA; Peter Goldberger, Ardmore, PA; Mary Price, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Washington, DC; Sarah Gannett & Daniel L. Kaplan, NAFD, Phoenix, AZ; Barbara Bergman, NACDL, Tucson, AZ.