U.S. v. Sanchez, No. CR. B-02-1551-M.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtHanen
Citation258 F.Supp.2d 650
PartiesUNITED STATES of America v. Jesus Palomarez SANCHEZ A/K/A Jesus Rodriguez-Santos
Docket NumberNo. CR. B-02-1551-M.
Decision Date16 April 2003
258 F.Supp.2d 650
Jesus Palomarez SANCHEZ A/K/A Jesus Rodriguez-Santos
No. CR. B-02-1551-M.
United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Brownsville Division.
April 16, 2003.

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Ms. Lynn Marie Kirkpatrick, Office of United States Attorney, Brownsville, for Petitioner.

Mr. Noe Robles, Attorney at Law, Brownsville, for Respondent.

Mr. J.W. Dyer, Dyer & Associates, McAllen, for Respondent.


HANEN, District Judge.

Pending is Defendant's appeal to the District Court from a misdemeanor conviction adjudged by a Magistrate Judge. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's conviction is AFFIRMED.


The Defendant was charged with violating an immigration law that prohibits aliens from entering "the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers." 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(1). The criminal complaint states that the Defendant "was apprehended near Los Indios, Texas on October 7, 2002" and "admitted wading the Rio Grande River near Los Indios, Texas ... thus avoiding inspection" on that same date. Docket No. 1. On the following day, the Defendant was appointed counsel, entered a plea of guilty, waived his right to a presentence investigation, and was sentenced to sixty days confinement and assessed $10.00. Docket Nos. 4-6. All these proceedings were presided over by United States Magistrate Judge John Wm. Black.

On October 22, 2002, the Defendant, via new counsel, motioned the Magistrate Judge to either set aside the sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, or, alternatively, grant a motion for new trial. Docket No. 7. In this motion, the Defendant asserted a different legal identity from the name under which he was originally convicted and claimed to enjoy the status of permanent resident alien. Id. In support of this motion, Defendant attached a copy of a "Permanent Resident Card." Id. In addition, the Defendant asserted that "he did not in fact wade the Rio Grande [R]iver to avoid inspection." Id. His prior plea to the contrary was alleged to be the result of mistake and fear of more serious charges if he failed to enter said plea. Id.

In response to Defendant's motion, the Magistrate Judge set the matter for hearing. Docket No. 8. A hearing was held on October 30, 2002. Docket No. 9. At this hearing, three exhibits were admitted into evidence: Defendant's purported Permanent Resident Card and two INS forms documenting his post-arrest interview; oral testimony was also given by the Defendant. Docket Nos. 9-10. Although the Magistrate Judge reserved judgment, he requested that the government "seek felony charges due to false statements made by Defendant."1 Docket No. 9.

On November 4, 2002, the Magistrate Judge issued his ruling, in which he construed Defendant's motion as one arising under § 2255 and denied it. Docket No.

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11. In doing so, the Magistrate Judge relied on case law from other circuits to the effect that 8 U.S.C. § 1325 applies to all aliens, including permanent resident aliens. Id. Therefore, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Defendant's status as a permanent resident (as opposed to an illegal alien) was irrelevant to his conviction. Id. In addition, the Magistrate Judge made a determination that the Defendant's first story (i.e., that Defendant entered illegally) was the more credible one in light of the fact that the Defendant, who had "repeatedly lied," had not had time for reflection to concoct a lie when first arrested. Id. As there was no other testimony or evidence, the Magistrate Judge denied Defendant's motion. Id.

Subsequently, the Defendant filed two documents with the Court. The first, styled as "Objection to Magistrate's Report and Recommendation," was directed to the District Court. Docket No. 12. The second document, filed the same day, was a notice of appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Docket No. 13.


As it now stands, Defendant has been adjudicated guilty of an offense under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(1). Defendant has sought reconsideration of that conviction in two ways: (1) by objecting to the Magistrate Judge's November 4, 2002 denial of his § 2255 motion (or, alternatively, motion for new trial), which the Defendant characterizes as a report and recommendation to the District Court; and (2) by appealing the judgment of conviction and sentence as well as the Magistrate Judge's denial of the § 2255 motion (or, alternatively, motion for new trial) to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. See Docket Nos. 12-13.

Initially, the Court notes that the two avenues of relief that the Defendant has pursued are, in part, mutually exclusive. The first avenue—objections to a purported report and recommendation—presupposes that no final judgment has ever been entered, at least with reference to the requested post-conviction relief. Whereas the second avenue, insofar as the notice of appeal also purports to appeal the Magistrate Judge's November 4, 2002 Memorandum and Order, assumes that said order is final and appealable. Neither filing is accurately characterized or effective in the manner intended by the Defendant.

A. Objections to the Magistrate Judge's "Report and Recommendation"

In this case, there is nothing that may be accurately characterized as a magisterial report and recommendation. The Defendant was convicted of violating 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(1). Docket No. 6. This crime is punishable by imprisonment of up to six months and a fine, or both, for a first offense. 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a). This is it a Class B Misdemeanor. See 18 U.S.C. § 3559(a)(7). This classification, in turn, places it within the definition of "petty offense." 18 U.S.C. § 19. As such, United States Magistrate Judges are authorized to conduct trials and enter sentences regarding 8 U.S.C. § 1325 under their own authority and jurisdiction, without the consent of the parties. 28 U.S.C. § 636(a)(3)(4); 18 U.S.C. § 3401(a)-(b). Under the foregoing provisions, any conviction entered is not a report and recommendation to the District Court; it is a binding adjudication of guilt. Therefore, a Defendant may not file objections to such a misdemeanor conviction as if it were a nonbinding recommendation made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).2

Given the Magistrate Judge's construal of Defendant's post-trial motion as one

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brought pursuant to § 2255, the Defendant, perhaps, filed said objections in light of the fact that Magistrate Judges are statutorily allowed to entertain "applications for posttrial [sic] relief solely when such matters are referred to them by the district court. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Regarding post-trial motions, Magistrate Judges are confined to the issuance of "proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition" of the matter by a district judge. Id. However, no such referral of the post-trial motion was ever made in this case, and the Defendant filed and argued his post-trial motion before the Magistrate Judge, notwithstanding the aforementioned statutory provision.

To the extent that the foregoing recitation accurately reflects the Defendant's thinking, his thinking is mistaken. Section 2255 proceedings are generally considered civil in nature and are so construed in the particular context of the Magistrates' Act. United States v. Johnston, 258 F.3d 361, 364-66 (5th Cir.2001). Although the Magistrates' Act allows all civil proceedings to be tried before a Magistrate Judge if the parties consent, the Fifth Circuit has ruled that such consensual delegation of § 2255 proceedings to Magistrate Judges contravenes Article III of the Constitution. Johnston, 258 F.3d at 366-72. Notwithstanding the fact that many of the structural constitutional concerns outlined by the Johnston court do not seem to be implicated in a situation such as the instant case, in which the Magistrate Judge was reconsidering an adjudication of guilt that he himself had presided over rather than a district court's judgment, neither Judge DeMoss's opinion for the court nor Judge Higginbotham's concurrence admits of any exception. See id. at 372 ("[W]e conclude that the consensual delegation of § 2255 motions to magistrate judges violates Article III of the Constitution."); id. at 374 (Higginbotham, J., specially concurring) ("I join the holding that petitions for relief from federal criminal convictions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 may not be referred to a magistrate judge for final disposition."). Moreover, one of the Johnston court's principal concerns remains just as significant in the present context: "if a magistrate judge were allowed to enter a final order in a consensual § 2255 proceeding, that order would not be reviewable by the district court."3 Id. at 371. Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge did not have any authority

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to consider Defendant's motion as one arising under § 2255.

However, the Defendant also alternatively characterized his § 2255 motion as a "Motion For New Trial." Appellate courts routinely recharacterize motions according to the actual relief sought, notwithstanding the label affixed thereto. See. e.g., United States v. Santora, 711 F.2d 41, 42 n. 1 (5th Cir.1983) ("As a general proposition, review of the merits of a federal prisoner's claim is not circumscribed by the label attached. Because the essence of the pleading controls, titling and erroneous citation of authority has been ignored.") (internal citations omitted). Motions that have been misidentified or mislabeled by lower courts rather than parties are also subject to recharacterization on appeal. Adams v. United States, 155 F.3d 582, 584 n. 1 (2d Cir.1998) (per curiam).4 In this case, characterization of the Defendant's motion as one for new trial based on newly discovered evidence pursuant to FED. R. CRIM. P. 33 is considerably more accurate than characterization as a § 2255 motion. See Docket...

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1 practice notes
  • Wilson v. Denise Richards & S. Dist. Reporters, P.C., 14-cv-2459 (AJN)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 25, 2014
    ...(D.D.C. May 3, 2007); Hill v. West, No. 04-cv-6601CJS, 2009 WL 3491274, at *4 n.1 (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 2009); United States v. Sanchez, 258 F. Supp. 2d 650, 663 n.14 (S.D. Tex. 2003); see also United States v. Journet, 544 F.2d 633, 637 n.6 (2d Cir. 1976) (acknowledging that courts are not re......
1 cases
  • Wilson v. Denise Richards & S. Dist. Reporters, P.C., 14-cv-2459 (AJN)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 25, 2014
    ...(D.D.C. May 3, 2007); Hill v. West, No. 04-cv-6601CJS, 2009 WL 3491274, at *4 n.1 (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 2009); United States v. Sanchez, 258 F. Supp. 2d 650, 663 n.14 (S.D. Tex. 2003); see also United States v. Journet, 544 F.2d 633, 637 n.6 (2d Cir. 1976) (acknowledging that courts are not re......

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