Ramos and Compean update; Ex-Border Patrol Agents file appeal
Posted by thebosun on September 25, 2007
Courtesy of the Washington Times
Ex-border agents appeal convictions
September 24, 2007
Two former U.S. Border Patrol agents sentenced to lengthy prison terms for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect have asked a federal appeals court to overturn their convictions, saying they were charged with a nonexistent crime and convicted after the jury was given improper instructions by the trial judge.
Houston defense lawyer J. Mark Brewer said two counts of a grand jury indictment against former agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean charged them under a federal statute with the discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, but the statute does not define a crime and contains only a sentencing factor to be addressed after conviction.
Mr. Brewer said in a 20-page motion that the “improperly-crafted indictment” misfocused the agents, counsel and jury on a nonexistent crime of unlawful discharge of a firearm, because the agents were authorized to possess, carry and use a firearm in the normal course of their job.
He said that in order to charge a crime under the government’s 10-year mandatory sentence statute, an indictment “must allege that a defendant either has used or carried a firearm … during and in relation to any crime of violence or has possessed a firearm in furtherance of such a crime.” He said the prosecution “misstated” the crime defined by federal statute.
Mr. Brewer said the district court “erroneously told the jury the federal statute made it a crime for anyone to discharge a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.”
A ruling in the case is expected next month.
“This is an outrageous case of prosecutorial abuse,” said Paul Kamenar, senior executive counsel for the Washington Legal Foundation, a watchdog group among eight organizations and persons who have filed briefs in support of the agents. “Instead of prosecuting the drug smuggler, the Justice Department filed a dozen felony charges against two agents trying to do their job.”
The pending appeal is being heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and seeks to overturn 11- and 12-year prison terms Ramos and Compean received, respectively…… For the rest of the story: Appeal