USA v. Jose Valdez
UNPUBLISHED OPINION FILED. [11-20545 Affirmed ] Judge: PEH , Judge: EMG , Judge: JWE Mandate pull date is 05/16/2012 for Appellant Jose Refugio Pena Valdez [11-20545]
Date Filed: 04/25/2012
IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
April 25, 2012
Lyle W. Cayce
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
JOSE REFUGIO PENA VALDEZ, also known as Jose Pena, also known as Joe
Pena, also known as Jose Refugio Pena-Valdez, also known as Jose Refugio
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Texas
USDC No. 4:11-CR-215-1
Before HIGGINBOTHAM, GARZA, and ELROD, Circuit Judges.
Jose Refugio Pena Valdez appeals the sentence imposed following his
guilty plea to illegal reentry. He argues that his within-guidelines sentence was
substantively unreasonable because the district court placed too much weight
on his criminal history, without weighing the mitigating factors of his cultural
assimilation, work history, and family circumstances.
Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not
be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR.
Date Filed: 04/25/2012
We review the substantive reasonableness of Pena Valdez’s sentence for
an abuse of discretion. See Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007). A
sentence imposed within a properly calculated guidelines range is afforded a
presumption of reasonableness. United States v. Campos-Maldonado, 531 F.3d
337, 338 (5th Cir. 2008); see Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 347 (2007).
Pena Valdez characterizes his criminal history as being overrepresented
because he received a 16-level enhancement and an additional four criminal
history points for crimes that occurred 20 years prior, when he was 18-years old.
The district court determined, however, that the nature of the crimes committed
when Pena Valdez was 18 had not been mitigated by the effect of time given that
his criminal history spanned 20 years and included recent convictions for violent
offenses. Additionally, the district court rejected Pena Valdez’s argument that
he returned illegally to the United States to make a better life for his children,
observing that he continued to commit crimes upon his reentry to the United
States, which behavior was inconsistent with “making a better life.”
The district court’s decision to place more weight on Pena Valdez’s lengthy
criminal history than on his cultural assimilation and work history in the United
States was not error. See United States v. Hernandez, 633 F.3d 370, 375 (5th
Cir.), cert. denied, 131 S. Ct. 3006 (2011). Moreover, Pena Valdez’s mere
disagreement with the propriety of the sentence imposed does not suffice to
rebut the presumption of reasonableness that attaches to a within-guidelines
sentence. See United States v. v. Ruiz, 621 F.3d 390, 398 (5th Cir. 2010).
Also, Pena Valdez argues that the presumption of reasonableness should
not apply to sentences calculated under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2 because that Guideline
is not empirically based; however, he concedes that this argument is foreclosed
by United States v. Mondragon-Santiago, 564 F.3d 357, 367 (5th Cir. 2009), and
he raises it only to preserve its further review.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?