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Lone Star Times: My thoughts on the 5th Circuit’s Ramos & Compean decision

Jul 29, 2008
Ideas and Opinions

Texas, Jul 29, 2008 - On December 3, 2007 a three judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court heard appeals on Case 06-51489, United States of America v. Ignacio Ramos; Jose Alonso Compean. I was there seated in the front row witnessing the proceedings and taking specific notes.

The 5th Circuit has a non-binding policy of rendering an opinion within 60 days on criminal trials so the questions, statements, and body language of the three judges last December 3rd were clearly indicative of what a timely opinion would be.

Yesterday July 28, 2008 the Court rendered a 46 page opinion upholding the indictment, Federal Gun Charges (924C), trial proceedings, convictions, and mandatory 10 year add-on sentences. Certainly the conclusion of the court is not what we had expected or hoped for - but there are two obvious problems in their ruling and stated opinion.

First there is no reconciliation of the statements of the court members Jolly, Higginbotham, and Prado last December during the appeal hearing and their ruling & opinion issued yesterday upholding the convictions and sentences of Ramos & Compean.

Second the 46 page opinion released yesterday by the 5th Circuit is NOT compelling and contains numerous direct conflicts of common sense and clear intent of law with the written opinion of these judges.

Last December 3 during appeal proceedings I recorded the following statements by these judges:

  • Judge Jolly openly stated it “does seem the Government over-reacted” in this prosecution
  • All 3 judges aggressively went after the 924C gun charges pointing out that there are no other cases where law enforcement officers were charged with this crime
  • Judge Higginbotham asked US Atty if every policeman who was accused of using unreasonable force should face 924 C charges or are these discretionary. Judges strongly disagreed with the application of the 924C charges.
  • The judges further raised questions that the witness Davilla was not a low level mule but routinely ran drugs and would have likely carried a weapon in the daily activities of smuggling drugs.
  • There was NO indication that the judges considered the US Atty’s discretion reasonable nor that the 924C gun charges were warranted.

Further the 5th Circuit took 8 months to rule on this case which is clearly outside of their own goal of 60 days in Criminal Cases. Did the case seem too complex for a quick review? That’s not evident in the 46 page opinion where the judges state that the jury saw the evidence and the jury believed the US Atty more than the defense. Wow - that’s a landmark opinion.

The jury NEVER was told that the Gov’t lead witness was a major mule who repeatedly ran dope across the border.

The jury was NEVER told that the lead witness Davilla was implicated 4 months before the trial in another dope load and this was while he was under immunity for the first dope load.

The jury was never advised that the witness Davilla broke the immunity by not fully cooperating with names and information about his employer - the cartel. In fact the US Atty told the three judges last December that their guy - Davilla - “told some lies” in his testimony. Wow - they knew he lied and they went along with it. Simply put that’s perjury by Davilla and suborning perjury by the US Atty team.

But the 3 judges conclude their opinion with the following statement:

“We conclude. For the most part, the trial of this case was about credibility, and although the jury could have gone either way, it chose not to believe the defendants’ version of the crucial events of February 17. The trial of the case was conducted fairly and without reversible error.”


It should shock every citizen to find that the 5th Circuit finds no fault with perjury, suborning perjury, denial of the 6th amendment rights to confront an accuser, and the 6th amendment rights to a PUBLIC TRIAL.

When Judge Cordone sealed the reports of the October load - the 2nd drug load run by Davilla and issued a gag order to both sides and families to not speak of that load under penalty of imprisonment - the public was locked out of the trial. So was the jury.

How do I say that? Just ask Juror Bob & Juror Claudia how they would have voted on this jury had they known Davilla was running drugs while under immunity. I did ask them that exact question. They answered “NOT GUILTY for Ramos & Compean”.

I rest my case. It’s a shame the 5th Circuit missed it so badly.

Wonder what changed them from December to July?
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