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United States v. Buenrostro

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 13, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Jose Luis Buenrostro, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted April 12, 2018 [*] San Francisco, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California William B. Shubb, Senior District Judge, Presiding D.C. Nos. 2:95-cr-00504-WBS-AC-1 2:16-cv-01344-WBS-AC

          John P. Balazs (argued), Sacramento, California, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Owen Roth (argued) and Jason Hitt, Assistant United States Attorneys; Camil A. Skipper, Appellate Chief; Phillip A. Talbert, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Sacramento, California; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: William A. Fletcher and Richard C. Tallman, Circuit Judges, and Brian M. Morris, [**] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[***]

         18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) / 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         The panel affirmed the district court's denial of Jose Luis Buenrostro's motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), and the district court's denial of his motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, following President Obama's commutation of his sentence from life in prison without release to 360 months in prison.

         The panel held that Buenrostro is ineligible for a sentence modification under § 3582(c)(2) because he was originally sentenced based on a statutory mandatory minimum, not based on a sentencing range. Explaining that a presidential commutation does not overturn the sentence imposed by the sentencing court, the panel wrote that President Obama's commutation was not based on a recalculation of a sentencing range.

         The panel held that President Obama's commutation of Buenrostro's sentence did not create a new judgment, and that Buenrostro therefore remains subject to the restrictions on second-or-successive motions under § 2255.

          OPINION

          W. FLETCHER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Defendant Jose Luis Buenrostro brings two appeals. First, in case number 16-10499, he appeals the district court's denial of his motion for a sentence modification under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Second, in case number 17-15453, he appeals the district court's denial of his motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Both appeals turn on the effect of President Obama's commutation of Buenrostro's sentence in 2016 from life in prison without release to 360 months in prison. We have jurisdiction in the first appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and in the second appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 2253. We affirm in both.

         I. Background

         On June 26, 1996, Buenrostro was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture more than thirty-one kilograms of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1). See ...


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