Today featured a classic effort at self-pwnage, presented by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case is United States v. Beltran-Moreno.
In short, if the Beltrans’ sentences were to be altered, there appears to be only one direction in which they could go, and that is up — by at least five years. Fortunately for the defendants, in a decision issued one year after they filed their notices of appeal, the Supreme Court held in a case with similar facts to this one that an appellate court cannot raise a defendant’s sentence if the government has not appealed, even to raise the sentence to the statutorily required minimum. See Greenlaw v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 2559, 2562 (2008). Here, the government has for some reason — we would like to think out of a sense of justice or mercy — exercised its discretion not to seek on appeal the additional years of incarceration for which the statute provides. This decision alone has saved one of the Beltrans, Abraham, from a higher sentence, despite his counsel’s efforts to the contrary.
The other appeal, Jose’s, is more brazen, and accordingly holds more potential for self-immolation.
Page 7 of the PDF.