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Document drop: Court upholds long sentences for Border Patrol agents

By Michelle Malkin  •  July 28, 2008 06:56 PM

I’m posting the ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of the Appeals in the case of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean that came down today.

Click here for the 45-page ruling (PDF).

Sen. John Cornyn’s office has pressed President Bush to commute the sentences:

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed his strong disappointment with today’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which upheld virtually all of the convictions against imprisoned Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. Sen. Cornyn said that with their legal options virtually exhausted, save for intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, President Bush must step forward and commute their sentences. Sens. Cornyn and Dianne Feinstein first requested a commutation of their sentences in a letter sent to President Bush on July 18, 2007. Both Senators also sent a follow-up letter to the President reiterating this request on April 21, 2008.

“While I am still reviewing this opinion, it’s clear that Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean will not receive the relief that they deserve. It’s been more than one year now since Senator Feinstein and I first called on the President to address this miscarriage of justice. With this court decision, it is now more important than ever for the President to act.

“As I have long said, it is incomprehensible to me that an illegal alien drug smuggler was allowed to violate his immunity agreement, perjure himself and be granted a series of unlimited visas to roam free in our country while two border patrol agents were given excessive prison sentences. The sentences of 11 years for Agent Ramos and 12 years for Agent Compean were significantly higher than for many other serious crimes.

“This administration has now had ample time to carefully gather and review the facts of this case. The facts, in my view, point to a clear case of prosecutorial overreach and a case where the sentence does not match the crime. This case cries out for a commutation that is fair and just, and I once again call on President Bush to act.”

Sen. Cornyn also said today that he is examining legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady aimed at protecting federal law enforcement officers from the enhanced criminal penalties for gun-use “while on duty and in pursuit of a criminal they believed to be violent and dangerous.” The federal prosecutors in the Ramos/Compean case used their discretion to charge this firearms offense under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries with it a mandatory minimum of 10 years. This was in addition to the 12 other offenses that were charged. The result was that Ramos and Compean received sentences that were higher than the average sentences for other federal crimes.

“Congressman Brady has introduced a bill that in my view addresses a loophole in our federal sentencing guidelines. While I am still examining this issue, it appears on balance, that similar legislation should be introduced in the Senate, and I am committed to pursuing this issue more closely in the days ahead,” Sen. Cornyn said.


From Calif. GOP Rep. Dana Rohrbacher’s office:

Today, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in the Ramos and Compean case. The Court affirmed all convictions except those for tampering with an official proceeding, which were vacated. The ruling affirms the 18 U.S.C 924(c), mandatory minimum ten year sentence for the unlawful discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has issued the following statement:

“Unfortunately, the Court has sided with the prosecutors who threw the book at the good guys and the good guys have lost this round. This makes President Bush’s role in this miscarriage of justice even worse. Affirming U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s decision to give the benefit of the doubt to an illegal alien drug smuggler in order to win at all costs and destroy the lives of our brave border agents simply magnifies the horrible travesty this really is.

“The fact the judges couldn’t bring themselves to recognize that the 924(c) gun charge was never intended to be used against law enforcement officers engaged in a legitimate deadly force situation demonstrates the need for Congress to take legislative action to correct any further ambiguity in the law.

“I renew my call for the President to do the right thing and immediately pardon Ramos and Compean.”

Posted in: Southern Border