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Date: 10-09-2021

Case Style:

United States of America v. FERNANDO RIOS-MADRIGAL

United States of America v. CESAR BLANCA-LEO

Case Number: 06-4152 06-4165

Judge: FERNANDO RIOS-MADRIGAL

Court: UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS TENTH CIRCUIT

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office

Defendant's Attorney:


Denver, CO - Criminal defense Lawyer Directory


Description:

Denver, CO - Criminal defense lawyer represented defendants with a possession of methamphetamine with an intent to distribute charge.



I. Blanca-Leon


Based on the quantity of drugs involved, the PSR set Blanca’s offense level at 32.
With a Criminal History Category I, his guideline range was 121 to 151 months
imprisonment. At paragraph 55 of the PSR, there was the following statement:
“There is no information to suggest that a departure, either upward or downward, is
warranted in this case.” Blanca did not file any objections to the PSR’s recommended
guideline range nor did he file any objection to the recommendation that there be no
upward or downward departure. However, at sentencing, Blanca’s counsel spoke, inter
alia, as follows: “I would argue, obviously, for the low end hopefully or even less than
that.” The United States Attorney suggested a sentence of 136 months, the mid-level of
Appellate Case: 06-4152 Document: 010140055 Date Filed: 09/26/2007 Page: 2
Neither Blanca nor Rios challenges on appeal the sufficiency of the evidence. We 1
would also note that neither testified at trial.
-3-
the guideline range.
At sentencing, the district court sentenced Blanca to imprisonment for 121 months,
and at that time, also spoke, inter alia, as follows: “I’m following the guidelines because I
think they are applicable and appropriate under these circumstances.” The district court
admittedly was somewhat concerned with the fact that Blanca had never admitted any
wrongdoing, and that, accordingly, any sentence it imposed would be on a person who
claimed he had committed no crime, even though a jury had decided otherwise. In this
same regard, the district court then went on to state: “I don’t know of anything that
would make it appropriate for me to adjust that sentence downward based on the
guideline range, because there is a possibility that Mr. Blanca-Leon is innocent.”
(Emphasis ours).
Blanca argues on appeal that the district court, under the described circumstances,
erred in not making a downward departure from the guideline range and thus in not
sentencing defendant to less than 121 months imprisonment. We do not believe the issue 1
of a possible downward departure from the guidelines was raised in the district court. A
“hope” that the court would so do, which was mentioned by counsel at sentencing, is not
enough to preserve the matter for appellate review. There was no offer by counsel of any
reason why the district court should make a downward departure. We reject any
suggestion that the district court was guilty of “plain error” in not making a downward
Appellate Case: 06-4152 Document: 010140055 Date Filed: 09/26/2007 Page: 3
-4-
departure, sua sponte, so to speak. There was no plain error that affected defendant’s
substantial rights and seriously affected the fairness, integrity or public reputation of
judicial proceedings. United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 732 (1993). Blanca also
suggests that the district court believed the Guidelines were mandatory rather than
advisory. There is nothing in the record to indicate that the district court did not know
about United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), some one and a half years after it
was decided. The district court stated that it was “following the guidelines because I
think they are applicable and appropriate under these circumstances.”
Further, based on the present record, it is clear to us that any possible error in the
district court was only “harmless” and did “not affect the district court’s selection of the
sentence imposed.” United States v. Labastida-Sequra, 396 F.3d 1140, 1143 (10th Cir.
2005). In other words, the present record indicates quite clearly to us, as it apparently
did to the district court, that a sentence of 121 months was “reasonable” as required by 18
U.S.C. § 3553(a). United States v. Kristl, 437 F.3d 1050, 1055 (10th Cir. 2006).


II. Rios-Madrigal


Prior to trial, counsel for Rios filed in the district court a motion asking that the
government be required to reveal to counsel the name of a confidential informant (CI),
who had assisted the local police in its investigation, and who later testified as a
government witness at the trial. The district court ordered the government to do so, and
the name of the CI was given counsel by the government. Counsel was also given the
CI’s cell phone number. The government also advised counsel, and the court, that the CI
Appellate Case: 06-4152 Document: 010140055 Date Filed: 09/26/2007 Page: 4
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had no “stable” home address which it could give counsel. After several unsuccessful
attempts to talk with the CI, counsel apparently did talk with the CI a few days before
trial. In this regard, trial testimony indicates that Blanca’s counsel was able to speak with
the CI in early January, 2006. At trial the CI testified as to her current home address.
After Rios was convicted by the jury, counsel filed with the trial court a motion for
a new trial. In that motion counsel stated that because he had not been able to contact the
CI until a few days prior to trial he was unable “to properly prepare for cross-examination
of the confidential informant.” There was no mention in the motion for a new trial of any
deliberate misstatement by the United States Attorney concerning the CI’s address. There
was apparently no hearing on Rios’ motion for a new trial, which was summarily denied
by the district court.
On appeal, counsel in his brief frames the issue to be resolved as follows:
Whether the Defendant received a fair trial, when the
Government did not disclose the location of the confidential
informant, when the Government’s agents knew the location
of the confidential informant; thus the district court erred in
denying the Defendant’s Motion for a New Trial. (Emphasis
ours).
In line therewith, counsel argues in his brief on appeal that the United States
Attorney knew the CI’s home address when he stated, in response to the motion to reveal
the identity of the CI, that the defendant had no “stable home address.” There is no such
suggestion that we can find in appellant’s motion for new trial. Rather in the motion for a
new trial the only grounds urged is that counsel had only one contact with the CI prior to
Appellate Case: 06-4152 Document: 010140055 Date Filed: 09/26/2007 Page: 5
-6-
trial and that counsel was under the impression that the CI was homeless. In this regard
we would note that counsel made no pre-trial motion to continue the trial because of his
inability to question the CI. So far as we can ascertain from the record before us, the
matter of misconduct by the United States Attorney was never raised in the district court
and is first raised in this Court. It is well settled that matters not raised in a district court
will not be entertained by this Court on appeal unless there be “plain error.” We find no
“plain error” in the instant case. United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. at 732.

Outcome: In his brief counsel does state that he adopts the argument made in this Court by
Blanca regarding his sentence. That matter has now resolved adversely to Blanca and,
thus, to Rios.

Judgment affirmed.

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