United States v. Fausto Medrano-Ochoa

Court Case Details
Court Case Opinion

Case: 12-10656 Document: 00512178702 Page: 1 Date Filed: 03/19/2013



United States Court of Appeals

Fifth Circuit


March 19, 2013

No. 12-10656

Summary Calendar

Lyle W. Cayce







Appeal from the United States District Court

for the Northern District of Texas

USDC No. 5:12-CR-14-1

Before JOLLY, BENAVIDES, and DENNIS, Circuit Judges.



Fausto Ferdinando Medrano-Ochoa (Medrano) pleaded guilty to illegal re-

entry of the United States after deportation and was sentenced within the

advisory guideline range to a 63-month term of imprisonment. His plea was

pursuant to an agreement, but he did not waive his appellate rights.

Medrano argues that the district court erred by denying his request for an

additional one-level decrease for acceptance of responsibility. He asserts that

the Government improperly denied the additional level based on his refusal to


Pursuant to 5




47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not



be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5







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No. 12-10656

waive his appellate rights. Medrano contends that the district court has the

authority to award the additional point despite the Government's failure to move

for it. He asserts that, if the district court were without the authority to award

the point, the power of the Government to withhold the additional point decrease

for acceptance of responsibility would violate the separation-of-powers doctrine.

We have rejected virtually identical contentions. See United States v.

Newsom, 515 F.3d 374, 376-79 (5th Cir. 2008). A district court cannot award an

additional point for acceptance of responsibility absent a motion from the

Government pursuant to § 3E1.1. Id. at 378. Medrano’s argument regarding a

violation of the separation-of-powers doctrine is foreclosed by United States v.

Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). See id. at 376.

Medrano argues that his sentence is procedurally unreasonable because

the district court did not address his argument for a lesser sentence. He

contends that his request for leniency based on the staleness of his convictions

was sufficient to preserve his procedural reasonableness challenge. Medrano’s

failure to request a further explanation at sentencing results in plain error

review. See United States v. Mondragon-Santiago, 564 F.3d 357, 361 (5th Cir.

2009). To succeed under the plain error standard, Medrano must show (1) a

forfeited error (2) that is clear or obvious and (3) that affects his substantial

rights. See Puckett v. United States, 556 U.S. 129, 135 (2009). If he makes that

showing, this court may exercise its discretion “to remedy the error . . . if the

error seriously affects the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial

proceedings.” Id. (internal quotation marks, bracketing, and citation omitted).

“The sentencing judge should set forth enough to satisfy the appellate

court that he has considered the parties’ arguments and has a reasoned basis for

exercising his own legal decisionmaking authority.” Rita v. United States, 551

U.S. 338, 356 (2007). Additionally, where the defendant “presents nonfrivolous

reasons for imposing a different sentence, . . . the judge will normally go further

and explain why he has rejected those arguments.” Id. at 357. However, the


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No. 12-10656

explanation requirement is satisfied if the district court listens to the

defendant’s arguments and indicates that a sentence within the guidelines range

is appropriate. See id. at 357-59.

The district court adopted the Presentence Report, which detailed

Medrano’s criminal history. It listened to Medrano’s arguments for leniency and

then expressed its determination that a 63-month sentence would adequately

address the sentencing objectives of deterrence and punishment. Medrano fails

to demonstrate that the district court committed a clear procedural error. See

United States v. Rodriguez, 523 F.3d 519, 525-26 (5th Cir. 2008). Moreover, he

has not shown that the lack of a more complete explanation affected his

substantial rights. See Mondragon-Santiago, 564 F.3d at 365.

Medrano also argues that his sentence is substantively unreasonable. We

review this issue for plain error because Medrano did not object to his sentence.

See United States v. Peltier, 505 F.3d 389, 391-92 (5th Cir. 2007). Although he

disagrees that such an objection is necessary to preserve error, Medrano

recognizes that we have ruled otherwise and raises the issue only to preserve it

for further review. See id.

“[A] sentence within a properly calculated Guideline range is

presumptively reasonable.” United States v. Alonzo, 435 F.3d 551, 554 (5th Cir.

2006). “The presumption is rebutted only upon a showing that the sentence does

not account for a factor that should receive significant weight, it gives significant

weight to an irrelevant or improper factor, or it represents a clear error of

judgment in balancing sentencing factors.” United States v. Cooks, 589 F.3d 173,

186 (5th Cir. 2009). Essentially, Medrano now argues that this court should

engage in impermissible “substantive second-guessing of the sentencing court.”

United States v. Cisneros-Gutierrez, 517 F.3d 751, 767 (5th Cir. 2008). He fails

to overcome the presumption of reasonableness afforded his within-guidelines

sentence. See Alonzo, 435 F.3d at 554.