Case 'o The Week: Congress takes the First Step, Ninth takes the Second — Valencia-Mendoza and use of state priors as federal sentencing enhancements

The federal government of the United States just entered its longest shutdown in history.Federal courts will run out of money next week.Public defenders will soon join their CJA comrades and will be expected to mount vigorous, constitutionally-mandated defenses for our indigent clients – without pay.  Great news from the Ninth couldn’t come at a better time.United States v. Valencia-Mendoza, 2019 WL 149827 (9thCir. Jan. 10, 2019), decision available here.Players: Decision by Judge Graber, joined by Judges McKeown and Christen. Huge win for AFD William Miles Pope, Fed. Defenders of Eastern Washington & Idaho.  Facts: Valencia-Medonza pleaded guilty to illegal reentry. Id. at *1. He received a +4 OL increase under USSG § 2L1.2, because of a prior Washington “felony” conviction. Id.   Commentary to § 2L1.2 defines a felony as an offense “punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” Id. The…

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