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Last week, I went back and forth several times with a commenter who offered the below statements (and my responses) to this piece I posted back on October 24, 2006. It is indicative of and mirrors the argument that U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton used as one of the central assertions to convict former border patrol agents, and currently interred federal inmates, Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Compean.

First reader comment:

The officers shot at a man they knew was unarmed and had committed no wrong doing that they knew about at that point other than refusing to stop his van and then fleeing back toward the Mexican border. The officers knew he was without a weapon and that there was absolutely no threat to their lives. The man held up his hands in surrender yet he was fired at. Not only that but they attempted to cover up their mistakes and failed to report the incident; a clear case of obstruction of justice. How could anyone reasonably call these men heroes?

My response:

The central issue I have with your comment is your statement that Ramos and Compean knew the illegal alien didn’t have a weapon. How do you know that? They claim they thought he had a gun in their testimony.

The lawyers for the illegal would like you to believe that the officers shot wily-nily knowing he didn’t have a gun, but they can’t prove what someone believes, in this case, whether the officer in question believed the alien had a weapon and was going to use it against him. Testimony during the trial stated the officers believed the alien might have had a weapon in his hand, and that he was turning to use it. What would you do in that situation? Wait to see if what he had expelled a bullet in your direction? I would not.

His response to my response:

They said that they believed he had a gun but other than their testimony that he appeared to be reaching back for a weapon, absolutely nothing indicated that he was armed. The evidence suggests that the officers knew there was no gun: [U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton] …questioned the agents’ claim that they thought the smuggler had a gun. “The evidence reflects something completely different,” he said. “The agents did not take cover and did not tell other agents to Get down. Someone has a gun.’” If they truly thought he had a gun they would have properly responded by hitting the ground or taking cover.

The fact that agents attempted to collect all of the shells fired and did not report the incident gives further creedence to the idea that they knew they had acted rashly because the man was unarmed.

I’m just shocked that so many people are defending these guys. Not only did these men make a mistake but they attempted to cover it up as well and filed a false report.

Their sentence, by federal law, must be 10 years at least. I would hope that they could at least be kept in partial isolation away from other prisoners to avoid harm coming to them in that manner, but frankly, they don’t deserve a full pardon. Their actions were beyond incompetent; they were deliberately deceitful.

And my final response to his response to my response to his comment:

Your statement is an almost identical quote of Sutton’s interview last week on a San Diego radio station. Of course, the concept that ‘absolutely nothing indicated that he [Davila] was armed’ is what the prosecution wanted everyone to believe as part of their case, but you simply cannot tell the border agent that the alien did not have a gun if he, the agent, felt otherwise. Period.

I do not discount the fact that the agents acted improperly by collecting shells and filing false paperwork, but any amount of jail time for a paperwork violation is preposterous. At the most, these men should simply have lost their jobs for their dishonesty (sort of like what should have happened to President Bush for lying to the American people in order to get us into Iraq–unfortunately, Bush is still our President.) The fact of the matter remains that Davila did not ship that particular van-load of drugs because of the efforts of Ramos and Compean. Thank god for their diligence.

The only part of my last response I would change is the statement that Ramos and Compean at most should have lost their jobs due to their perceived cover-up by collecting shells and not filling a proper report. I now believe they should only have been given possible suspensions. Even losing their jobs is too harsh a punishment for the supposed crime they committed, as will be discussed by Jerome Corsi more eloquently and in more detail via the World Net Daily story below.

Stampeding forward on “conspiracy” violations, as Sutton has explained ad nauseum in dozens of interviews–at the root, the agents picking up shells, and not filing proper paperwork–has been discovered, in actuality, a falsehood. Ramos and Compean did in fact provide an oral report to their commanding officer. The border patrol manual states agents are not required to de facto file physical paperwork as long as they provide an accurate oral report of the incident in question, which is what Ramos and Compean did, even disclosing the shooting of Davila. Unfortunately, their supervising officer did not submit a written report based upon the statements provided to him by the two border agents. Too bad for them.

So all those who view Johnny Sutton as the beacon of truth and justice in the case against Ramos and Compean should here realize that Sutton himself is the one who is lying, at least concerning the accusations of false reporting and false paperwork. The agents conducted themselves properly in this matter according to border patrol policies. Sutton, on the other hand, seems to have conducted himself rather inappropriately. The fact that Sutton in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security are stonewalling the release of investigative documents that could markedly assist Ramos and Compean in their case is quite telling–they are hiding something

But what about the shooting of illegal alien drug-smuggler Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila? Isn’t that the axial reason for putting Ramos and Compean behind bars? Yes. Didn’t they act malapropos by firing their gun and shooting Davila? No.

The former agents did not act unreasonably nor did they mishandle the confrontation with the illegal alien drug-smuggler by discharging their weapons at him and subsquently striking him in the ass. The law used to try Ramos and Compean was apparently either misconstrued by Sutton and his team, or it was intentionally perverted in order to ensure two men and their families would be destroyed–guaranteed maximum jail time for the former agents. The border agents were charged with 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) which states the following:

Whoever, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime which provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which he may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries a firearm, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime, be sentenced to imprisonment for five years, and if the firearm is a short-barreled rifle, short-barreled shotgun, or semiautomatic assault weapon, to imprisonment for ten years, and if the firearm is a machinegun, or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, to imprisonment for thirty years. In the case of his second or subsequent conviction under this subsection, such person shall be sentenced to imprisonment for twenty years, and if the firearm is a machinegun, or a destructive device, or is equipped with a firearm silencer or firearm muffler, to life imprisonment without release. (FOOTNOTE 1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall not place on probation or suspend the sentence of any person convicted of a violation of this subsection, nor shall the term of imprisonment imposed under this subsection run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment including that imposed for the crime of violence or drug trafficking crime in which the firearm was used or carried.

This statute was erroneously used to convict Ramos and Compean for discharging their weapons against the illegal alien drug-smuggler, Davila. While this statute applies to criminals who use weapons whilst committing a crime, it only applies to officers of the law if they use their service weapons in the process of committing a crime (robbery, rape, murder, etc.) Since Ramos and Compean were simply performing their job with no extraneous outrageous actions on their part, 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) cannot be applied to their particular case, and Sutton’s continued, parrot-like ramblings that the law applies equally all the time is false.

Regardless, we are at day nine of the Ramos/Compean political imprisonment. Their straight-to-jail railroading to me, is a clear message from Bush and his administration (of whom Sutton was a member, including the White House transitional team, when Bush was governor of Texas, even though Bush has claimed he doesn’t know Sutton.) The President wants to eradicate any willingness on border agents to do their job. He has ensured that Ramos and Compean would be the poster-boys for the border patrol–do your job and you will see serious jail time, but let the illegals flow over the border unfettered, and you will be fine.

If this comes back on Sutton though, which could happen, he could see some serious charges brought against him.

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WND Exclusive Commentary


Wrong law used to convict Border agents


Posted: January 22, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
What crime is committed when two Border Patrol agents shoot in the buttocks a fleeing drug smuggler who has abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana?

Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., has on record a letter written to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Oct.11, 2006, charging that Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean were charged under a statute that did not apply to the facts of the case. As previously reported by WND, the interview I conducted on Friday, Jan. 17, 2007 with the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, adds strong support to Rep. Jones’s contention.

Jones notes that Ramos and Compean were convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c). This statute was written to increase the penalties when a violent criminal, such as a drug trafficker or a rapist, carries or uses a weapon during the commission of the crime. Law enforcement officers, including Border Patrol agents, are issued weapons by the Border Patrol to carry in the normal pursuit of their duties.

Ironically, Ramos and Compean were trying to apprehend an escaping suspect who was a drug smuggler. How is it that a law meant to punish armed drug smugglers is applied to prosecute the two Border Patrol agents who attempted to apprehend a person U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton properly characterizes as a drug-dealing ”dirt-bag?”

Jones notes that 18 U.S.C. Section 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) has only been applied to law enforcement officers who themselves commit heinous crimes, such as sexual assault, outside the scope of their official duties. As Jones writes, ”Ramos and Compean were within the scope of their official duties when they fired at an illegal drug smuggler they believe to be armed and dangerous.”

Besides, Sutton never argues that Ramos and Compean were committing a crime they aggravated by discharging weapons. Sutton’s contention is that Ramos and Compean’s crime was that they discharged weapons at all. This is a distinct fact situation from the one 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) was passed to involve.

Consider this exchange from my interview with Sutton:

WND: But one of the things here is that the law was passed, as I understand it, to basically punish criminals who in the process of committing crimes also fire weapons. The law was never intended to punish law enforcement officers who may have fired their weapons inappropriately when somebody else was committing a crime.

Sutton: The law applies to everyone. And there is no exception for law enforcement officers made.

Sutton misses the point. Sure, 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) applies to law enforcement officers, but only when law enforcement officers themselves smuggle drugs or commit rapes and carry a firearm in the commission of those crimes. 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) was never written to define the rights and responsibilities of officers who carry weapons in the normal course of their law enforcement duties and decide to discharge those weapons at fleeing drug dealers.

Again, let’s examine the next exchange in the interview with Sutton:

WND: But the original intent of that law, as I understand it, was to increase the punishment for criminals who when perpetrating their crimes discharge weapons. Is that not correct?

Sutton: I can’t speak to what the Congressional intent was. All I can speak to is what the law says and the law says what it says, and it doesn’t make any exception for law enforcement officers. It says that if you commit a crime of violence and you use a firearm during a crime of violence, it’s ten year mandatory minimum stacked on top of what time you already have. No exception is made for law enforcement officers. The judge applied the law and if people want to change the law, then you can talk to their representatives.

What crime were Ramos and Compean committing, during which they decided to fire their weapons? Surely, Sutton does not consider it a crime for Border Patrol agents to stop and seek to arrest a person they suspect of smuggling drugs across the border.

As Jones rightly concludes, ”The application of Section 924(c) in this case is overly broad, setting a dangerous precedent of application to law enforcement officers trying to act within the scope of their official duties.” Jones is correct. On appeal, the convictions should be dismissed because the prosecutor charged these Border Patrol agents under a law whose scope was clearly misapplied.

The real issue in this case should have been whether Ramos and Compean had justification for discharging their weapons in this situation. The applicable law would seem to first involve the INS Firearms Policy. In that policy, there appears to be the following.

Section 7(A). Discharging a firearm shall be done only with the intent of stopping a person or animal from continuing the threatening behavior which justifies the use of deadly force. When deadly force is justified, an officer may use any level of force necessary up to and including deadly force.

Section 7(B). Firearms may be discharged under the following circumstances:

(1) When the officer reasonably believes that the person at whom the firearm is to be discharged possesses the means, the intent, and the opportunity of causing death or grievous bodily harm upon the officer or another person.

Again, my interview with Sutton was informative. In explaining why agent Compean discharged 14 rounds and failed to hit the fleeing suspect, Sutton explained that agent Compean was experiencing a heightened physiological reaction that is commonly identified as a normal physical response to a perceived sense of imminent danger:

WND: So, Compean shot 14 times and missed everybody, but Ramos shot one time and hit the drug dealer in the buttocks?

Sutton: That’s correct.

WND: Is Ramos that much better a shot than Compean?

Sutton: Ramos is a marksman.

WND: And Compean doesn’t seem very competent?

Sutton: Well, get your adrenalin pumping some day and go to the target range one day and try to hit the target. It’s sometimes harder than you think.

If the Border Patrol agents experienced adrenalin pumping, it is reasonable to conclude that they felt the drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, was armed and dangerous. The pumping adrenalin that Sutton admits impaired the aim of agent Compean should be prima facie evidence that agent Compean was experiencing an emotional response that could reasonably be associated with fear that the fleeing suspect yet possessed a weapon.

Moreover, in the interview, Sutton repeats almost as a litany a series of faults he has with the Border Patrol agents’ conduct, including Sutton’s conclusion that since Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila had his arms up at one point in the exchange, evidently wanting to surrender, the suspect must have been unarmed. Yet, when agent Compean slips in the mud, Aldrete-Davila takes off trying to escape. Simply because Aldrete-Davila did not fire a weapon back at the agents does not allow us to conclude that he did not have a concealed weapon at the time.

Maybe Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila had a concealed weapon he decided not to use, thinking that he only had a brief window where he could flee the scene and it would be better to keep running than to stop so he could shoot back at the agents.

Maybe Aldrete-Davila judged that if he had stayed to engage in a gun battle with the Border Patrol, he might have been himself killed or injured in the gun fire.

Certainly, Aldrete-Davila had reason to fear he was going to prison if he got apprehended. Sutton himself accepts this conclusion as evidenced by the interview:

Question: Why did Aldrete-Davila run?

Sutton: I’m sure he ran because he didn’t want to go to jail. He’s like all these other dirt-bag drug dealers; they don’t want to get caught. We catch them every day and they know that when we catch them, they’re going to go to prison.

How much time in the dirt and bush on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande did Aldrete-Davila feel he had before other Border Patrol agents would have an increased opportunity to apprehend him? Maybe it was simply better to keep running than to take the time to shot back at the agents.

An additional indisputable conclusion we must finalize is this: Since Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila managed to run away and escape back into Mexico across the border and was never apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol, truthfully nobody will ever know if he did or did not have a concealed weapon on him at the time.

From that conclusion follows this corollary: Because Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila got away, there is no argument the government can make that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Aldrete-Davila was unarmed.

If Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean had properly been prosecuted under the relevant provisions of the INS Firearms Policy, the issue before the jury would have been limited to an investigation of the reasonableness of their firing at a fleeing suspect they had reason to believe was an armed drug dealer. Let’s face it – how many drug dealers smuggle drugs unarmed?

The trial testimony shows that electronic sensors had warned Compean that Aldrete-Davila’s van had crossed the Rio Grande illegally and was headed into the United States. Why was Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila driving a suspicious van on a route the Border Patrol agents knew from previous experience was a route routinely used by drug smugglers along our largely wide-open border with Mexico?

Next, why did Aldrete-Davila turn his vehicle around after Border Patrol Agent Oscar Juarez began pursuing him if his goal wasn’t to try to escape back to Mexico on the dirt farm roads that headed back to the river?

How many job-seeking illegal aliens drive their cars into the U.S., only to turn and lead a wild pursuit along back roads in a desperate attempt to get across the Rio Grande before they’re arrested?

Instead of presuming that Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean were guilty of criminal behavior, as the indictment suggested, the inquiry at the trial should have focused on how reasonable their assumption was that they were pursuing an armed and dangerous drug smuggler who had tried to escape first in his van, then on foot.

Clearly, this was not the case where experienced Border Patrol agents such as Ramos and Compean would have thought they were dealing with an obviously unarmed Mexican who crossed the Rio Grande illegally only because he wanted to get work to feed his starving family. Yet, from the trial record, this preposterous theory was what the government wanted the jury to presuppose. The government dared to suggest to the jury with a straight face that Aldrete-Davila might have been a harmless, unarmed Mexican who crossed the Rio Grande merely to find work. Moreover, the prosecution proposed that in running from the vicious Border Patrol, all Aldrete-Davila wanted to do was to go back home to his poor family. As ridiculous as these assertions seem, there are statements in the trial where the prosecutors asserted exactly this, virtually word for word. Too bad for the prosecutors that Aldrete-Davila just happened to run away from and leave behind a van with the 743 pounds of dope packed inside, instead of newspapers with ”Help Wanted” ads circled.

The U.S. Army doctor who removed the bullet testified at the trial that the drug smuggler was not shot from behind, but that he removed the bullet from the side, with the bullet piercing the left side of his left buttock and traveled to his right groin. The doctor stated that Aldrete-Davila was in a running position when he was shot, consistent with pointing back toward the agents with his left arm and hand when the bullet hit him in the rear end. This is consistent with the testimony of the agents that they saw Aldrete-Davila pointing something back at them which they believed to be a gun.

Moreover, why would Ramos or Compean have any reason to believe Aldrete-Davila was hit by any of their shots? From the testimony at the trial, Aldrete-Davila got across the Rio Grande and disappeared into the tall, thick brush along the river. A short time later, Border Patrol agents observed Aldrete-Davila running across the dry river bed where he jumped into a waiting vehicle with two other suspects.

Yet, from the get-go, Sutton cleverly reframed the issue to bias the trial in the government’s favor. This was the point of charging Ramos and Compean inappropriately under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c). The statute presumes those charged, namely Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean, were involved in the commission of a crime when they fired their weapons. This is totally inaccurate and misleading given the facts of the case. Yet, the presumption of 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) – that criminal behavior was already being conducted by the accused – appears precisely suited to the impression Sutton wanted to create. The criminals here, according to Sutton, are the law enforcement officers. Every presumption Sutton made was sympathetic to the drug dealer in this case.

If any criminal action were ever to be brought in this issue, an unbiased prosecutor would have brought charges accusing the Border Patrol defendants of discharging their weapons inappropriately under the provisions of the INS Firearms Policy, not for violating 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c). The suggestion in the indictment itself was that the Border Patrol agents were somehow already criminals when they fired their weapons.

By charging the agents under an inappropriate statute, prosecutor Sutton focused the inquiry on the supposed criminal behavior of the agents, rather than on the narrow issue of whether the Border Patrol agents had reasonable cause to believe the fleeing suspect was a drug-smuggling criminal who most likely did have a concealed weapon on his person.

There is a long and involved body of law that has evolved over decades concerning whether law enforcement agents are justified in discharging their weapons at fleeing suspects. The limits of credibility are stretched in this case to believe that Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean acted in a criminally inappropriate manner, especially when the fleeing perpetrator (described now by the prosecutor as ”scum”) was found to have driven a van with 743 pounds of marijuana across our border with Mexico.

There is nothing in this case, except the subtle presumption framed by the indictment, to suggest that Aldrete-Davila was anything but a criminal perpetrator. How can anyone fail to notice that the U.S. Attorney’s office has in this case managed to transform a drug-smuggling perpetrator into the victim?

We should also note that one reason the prison terms of 11 and 12 years served up to Ramos and Compean respectively seem excessively harsh is because 10 years is the mandatory prison term attached to violations of 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c), as my interview with Sutton also made clear. This is the added penalty which the legislators who wrote 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) felt anyone already committing a serious crime, such as drug smuggling or rape, should have to pay as an add-on for the additional offense of carrying or discharging a firearm in the omission of the drug smuggling offense or rape. In other words, the excessive jail terms given Ramos and Compean is additional evidence that prosecutor Sutton brought the indictments under an inappropriate statute.

Sutton had the option of investigating in Mexico to find the perpetrator, even if the evidence on the scene was minimal. Again, a section of the interview with Sutton is relevant.

Question: People are going to say that 700 pounds of marijuana is a serious offense.

Sutton: Absolutely. This is what my office is dedicated to. We think smuggling drugs into this country is a serious crime. We prosecute those cases every day. We are one of the highest producing U.S. Attorneys offices in the United States, if not the highest for drug prosecutions. We are very aggressive. We prosecute drug smugglers every day. I’d much prefer to be having that discussion, but unfortunately, the criminal behavior of these two agents brought us to this point.

Earlier in the interview, Sutton had mentioned in passing during the interview that Department of Homeland Security investigators were involved with Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila’s family. We are separately told that Homeland Security’s Christopher Sanchez was in Mexico investigating Aldrete-Davila when the U.S. Attorney’s office decided it was best to give him immunity. What was that all about?

Clearly, the drug cartels knew who Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila was. Where did Aldrete-Davila get the drugs in the first place? We can imagine that a different prosecutor who was totally focused on stopping drug trafficking from Mexico could have used the facts of this case to begin a sweeping investigation into the Mexican drug traffic. But U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton chose not to go that route.

That Sutton was drawn to the presumption that the Border Patrol agents in this case were the bad guys weighs heavily upon the credibility of the Bush administration to be serious about protecting U.S. citizens by securing our border. We strongly believe that with Ramos and Compean in prison, U.S. Attorney Sutton has given Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila the upper hand in suing the Border Patrol for $4 million for violating his civil rights.

If Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a drug smuggling ”dirt bag” from Mexico, ends up being rewarded $4 million while Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean are in federal prison, we believe President George W. Bush will once and for all lose the sympathy and credibility of the American people on the issue of border security.

We will then rightly conclude that George W. Bush has always had only one intention and that is to do anything necessary to force another ”guest-worker amnesty” down the throat of the American people. This is the bill the Bush administration supported in the 109th Congress and it is the bill we suspect the Bush administration will force once more in the 110th Congress.

Meanwhile, the clever attorneys for Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila will be preparing to collect by calling the U.S. Attorney’s office forward to testify as they pursue their client’s claim for damages against the imprisoned Border Patrol agents.

US Attorney Johnny Sutton

Johnny Sutton

 

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

 

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I’m simply too exhausted to discuss this sad story anymore, but this somber tale refuses to offer even a spec of light at the end of a tunnel that grows darker and longer with each passing day.

Pathetic excuse for a representative of justice, Federal Judge, and cold-hearted justice-is-blind-and-obviously-obtuse Kathleen Cardone has yesterday denied bail for former border patrol agents Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Compean, thereby eliminating the opportunity for these noble men to remain with their families during the appeals process. Ramos and Compean are beginning their decade long term in federal prison today.

How could Cardone make it any worse for the two family men? Why not send them 2000 miles away in order to make it intentionally prohibitive for their families the opportunity to visit their husbands, fathers, and sons with any sort of compassionate regularity.

But compassion did not exist in the entire case against Ramos and Compean. They were maliciously destroyed by our Government. All who were involved, even peripherally, should be forever ashamed of themselves and their conduct or lack thereof.

I’m angry. I’m sad. I never thought I would weep for people I’d never met.

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Border agents sent to prison
Angry Republican congressman calls President Bush ‘disgrace’


Posted: January 17, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Art Moore
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com


Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)

Amid protests and a flurry of last-minute efforts by congressmen, two border patrol agents are scheduled today to begin long prison sentences for shooting and wounding a Mexican drug smuggler who was given immunity to testify against them. In an interview with WND, an angry Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., called President Bush a “disgrace” for refusing to pardon Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, who were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October. With hopes for a presidential pardon dwindling, the lawmakers had requested that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez assist in a motion to keep the agents free on bond during the appeals process. But late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, ruled the men must surrender to federal marshals at 2 p.m. Mountain Time today.

“This is the worst betrayal of American defenders I have ever seen,” Rohrabacher said of the president. “It’s shameful this was done by someone who is in the Republican Party. He obviously thinks more about his agreements with Mexico than the lives of American people and backing up his defenders.”

The California lawmaker, who has helped lead efforts to obtain a pardon, charged the Bush administration has been playing a “cruel game.” Initially, he said, officials insisted the agents could not be pardoned because they had not filled out the proper paperwork. But Rohrabacher told WND the White House did not explain to the public that the agents were being required – without justification, he contended – to first admit guilt.

Then, last Friday, presidential press secretary Tony Snow addressed the issue for the first time, arguing that prior to the shooting, the agents did not know if the smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, was an illegal, and they were unaware he had about 750 pounds of marijuana.

Compean and Ramos say the smuggler had a gun, but no weapon was found.

The agents, Snow said, “had received arms training the day before; that said, if you have an incident like this, you must preserve the evidence and you must report it promptly.”

“Instead,” Snow continued, “according to court documents, they went around and picked up the shell casings. Furthermore, they asked one of their colleagues also to help pick up shell casings. They disposed of them.”

Rohrabacher argues that if the men did anything wrong, they should have simply received a reprimand, but instead they are being placed in the general prison population among hardened criminals where their lives may be at risk.


Agent Jose Alonso Compean (Courtesy: KFOX-TV)

Ramos’ attorney, Mary Stillinger, told the El Paso Times the men, both married with young children, may have to spend several weeks at the El Paso County Jail before being transported to a federal prison.

“Why does [President Bush] have to send these men to prison in order that his policy not be disrupted?” Rohrabacher asked San Diego radio host Roger Hedgecock after speaking with WND last night. “He talks about being a Christian, but he has shown no Christian charity.”

Asked by WND for a response to Rohrabacher’s remarks, White House spokesman Alex Conant deferred to Snows comments on the case.

Rohrabacher told WND he sees a serious residual result of the administration’s handling of the agents.

“The word is out that the southern border is undefended,” he said. “Border agents won’t dare to draw their weapons, and the drug cartel will double their effort to drive a wedge in our border.”

Rohrabacher said he has been disturbed by an “arrogant” lack of response from senior Justice Department and White House officials who have “shoved over” their inquiries to lower-level staff.

“I’ve never seen an administration that does it this way,” he said. “In the past, if there is a senior member of Congress calling, it would require a call back directly from the administration official in question.”

The Justice Department did not respond to WND’s request for comment.

Bush has received a letter about the case from more than 50 Congress members, and yesterday an online petition by Grassfire.org with more than 225,000 signatures calling for a presidential pardon was delivered to the White House.

As WND has reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.

Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.

According to the agents, Ramos responded Feb. 17, 2005, to a request for back-up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.

Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.

“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”

At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.

“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”

The U.S. government filed charges against Ramos and Compean after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas issued a statement in September arguing “the defendants were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, at which time Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of Compean’s shotgun, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next.”

The statement said, “Although both agents saw that the man was not armed, the agents fired at least 15 rounds at him while he was running away from them, hitting him once.”

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Who knows whether this will help or not, but it can’t hurt. Go here and sign the petition that will likely do nothing to help pardon former border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. But as I said, it doesn’t hurt.

I’ve already covered in-depth the unfortunate plight of Ramos and Compean. Needless to say the ineptitude of our government goes beyond the Iraq fiasco. It often hits home. In this case, it struck wildly and with extreme malice at Compean and Ramos and their families.

Keep these men and their wives and their fathers and mothers and children in your thoughts this holiday season. If we move beyond the holiday season and a pardon has not been granted, continue to keep them in your thoughts. This indisputable travesty of the United States judicial system should not be allowed to meet the conclusion George Bush, Michael Chertoff, Katheel Cardone, and et. al. obviously wish it to meet.

Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean should not go to jail.

Border agents plead for ‘Christmas pardon’
Congressman hosts rally asking Bush to stop ‘miscarriage of justice’


Posted: December 20, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Art Moore
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy El Paso Times)

A Border Patrol agent sentenced to prison along with his partner for shooting and wounding a man smuggling drugs into the U.S. will appear with a congressman tomorrow at a rally asking President Bush to offer a pardon.

Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years, respectively, in October by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas. The drug smuggler was granted immunity for his testimony.

Compean will be joined by family; Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R, Calif.; Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist; and members of other border-security groups such as Friends of the Border Patrol at the courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif., at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow.

Rohrabacher, noting the president already has received a letter about the case from more than 50 Congress members, is asking Americans to sign petitions and send e-mails and letters to the White House requesting a “Christmas pardon.”

Grassfire.org has an online petition calling on Bush to pardon the agents, with more than 130,000 signatures.

“This is the greatest miscarriage of justice that I’ve seen in my career,” Rohrabacher told WND. “Two brave Border Patrol agents trying to enforce the president’s nonsensical border policy ending up being sent to prison, while an illegal alien drug smuggler is given immunity and walks free.”

Compean’s sister, of Huntington Beach, lives in Rohrabacher’s Southern California district.

The White House has not responded to the letter, according to Rohrabacher, and did not follow up a request from WND for comment. Press secretary Tony Snow has said he cannot comment on presidential pardons.

Gilchrist said what has happened to the two agents is “atrocious,” with “their lifes being ruined, their families being put in turmoil.”

“We would expect the president to give a full and unconditional pardon to these two wrongly arrested, wrongly accused, wrongly convicted members of law enforcement,” he told WND, “and retroactive pay and benefits they’ve lost over the past two years since they were originally arrested.”

As WND has reported, a federal jury convicted Compean, 28, and Ramos, 37, in March after a two-week trial on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and a civil rights violation.


Agent Jose Alonso Compean. Courtesy of KFOX-TV

Ramos is an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve and a former nominee for Border Patrol Agent of the Year.

On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos responded to a request for back-up from Compean, who noticed a suspicious van near the levee road along the Rio Grande River near the Texas town of Fabens, about 40 miles east of El Paso. A third agent also joined the pursuit.

Fleeing was an illegal alien, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila of Mexico. Unknown to the growing number of Border Patrol agents converging on Fabens, Aldrete-Davila’s van was carrying 800 pounds of marijuana.

Aldrete-Davila stopped the van on a levee, jumped out and started running toward the river. When he reached the other side of the levee, he was met by Compean who had anticipated the smuggler’s attempt to get back to Mexico.

“We both yelled out for him to stop, but he wouldn’t stop, and he just kept running,” Ramos told California’s Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

“At some point during the time where I’m crossing the canal, I hear shots being fired,” Ramos said. “Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler.”

At that point, Ramos said, Aldrete-Davila turned toward him, pointing what looked like a gun.

“I shot,” Ramos said. “But I didn’t think he was hit, because he kept running into the brush and then disappeared into it. Later, we all watched as he jumped into a van waiting for him. He seemed fine. It didn’t look like he had been hit at all.”

The U.S. government filed charges against Ramos and Compean after giving full immunity to Aldrete-Davila and paying for his medical treatment at an El Paso hospital.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas issued a statement in September arguing “the defendants were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, at which time Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of Compean’s shotgun, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next.”

The statement said, “Although both agents saw that the man was not armed, the agents fired at least 15 rounds at him while he was running away from them, hitting him once.”

Andy Ramirez of Friends of the Border Patrol said the drug smuggler has “fully contributed to the destruction of two brave agents and their families and has sent a very loud message to the other Border Patrol agents: If you confront a smuggler, this is what will happen to you.”

The letter to Bush included the signatures of Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus.

“We ask that a full investigation of this case be ordered immediately,” the letter said. “We are confident that during such an investigation you will find that these Border Patrol agents were acting within the scope of their duty and were unjustly prosecuted. Also, we ask that you use your power of presidential pardon, as granted by the United States Constitution in Article II, Section 2, to pardon these two Border Patrol agents. We understand these requests usually are for those that have already completed their sentences; however, we feel in this case it would be a miscarriage of justice to send these two Border Patrol agents to prison for protecting our nation’s borders from an illegal drug smuggler.”

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Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, on Tuesday, two days before he is set to be sentenced. Ramos could receive up to 15 years in prison for shooting a drug smuggler who was entering the United States illegally. (Mark Lambie / El Paso Times)

———————————–

After the injustice perpetrated upon Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who in their right mind would even consider pursuing a career as a United States border agent? Additionally, are there any current border agents familiar with this incredibly tragic story who will not pause to reflect, as they spy illegals entering the U.S. from Mexico, what performing their job might net them–serious jail time? I wouldn’t blame them. I will blame our president.

But this is what George Bush, and all those who agree with him, wants–open borders and free access to cheap labor. Because he is a short-sighted and unintelligent man, he desperately wishes to devalue American schools, shut down our emergency rooms, and generally spread the 3rd world throughout this country–this country that is doomed to die from the inside out as if we’re one giant rotten apple. The old adage states that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It also wasn’t destroyed in a day. It died under the overwhelming weight of immigrants it simply wasn’t able to adequately accommodate. It became rotten.

Bush has expressed his desire to grant amnesty to the already 20 million illegal aliens currently residing in the United States. If we’re truly at 20 million (everyone agrees no lower than 12 million), then the number of illegal aliens residing in this country is far more than “all of the Germans, Italians, Irish, and Jews who ever came to American in the 400 years of our history on this continent.“* In the same vein, according to research conducted by Time magazine, “…the number of illegal aliens flooding into the U.S. this year will total 3 million–enough to fill 22,000 Boeing 737-700 aircraft, or 60 flights every day for a year.”

Pushing aside ideas of MEChA and Aztlan, if you’re one who doesn’t believe we are being invaded then you’re a moron. If you’re too worried that you might step out of the boundaries of political correctness and be labeled a “racist” then you’re a coward. Both ways, you’re simply ignorant, and this country will cave in upon itself from the weight of the ever growing illegal population.

This is not an issue of racism unless certain unsavory groups or peoples make it that way. I don’t blame poor Mexicans their desire, their need to break our immigration laws and try to make better lives for themselves in the United States. I blame our impotent administration for failing to secure our borders. While the analogy may not be all that flattering, equating America to the Roman Empire, at least in this respect, is not far off the target. And like all once mighty empires, the United States will fall, but not from wars. We will fall because our government refuses to address the issue that is slowly killing us–illegal immigration.

It all starts at the border. Go ahead, refuse to secure it. Neuter our border agents and send them to jail for doing the right thing, and that will be the beginning of the end. Am I overreacting? Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Compean, good hardworking family men and former border patrol agents, will be sentenced this Thursday, October 19th, to no less than 10 years in a maximum security prison for doing their jobs. This is a travesty. It is a severe injustice. It fills me with shame that my government would allow this to happen. It fills me with a great sadness for these two men and their families who will be without husbands, fathers, and sons for potentially the rest of their lives. This must not be allowed.

Shame on George Bush. Shame on Michael Chertoff. Shame on Alberto Gonzales. Shame on Debra Kanof.

Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos hugged his mother, Virginia Orwig, at her home Tuesday. His lawyer is seeking a new trial for Ramos. (Mark Lambie / El Paso Times)

 

 

Congressman ask Justice Department to review law that convicted Ramos

Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer

In an eleventh-hour plea, a half-dozen congressmen are asking the Justice Department to review the federal law used to convict two Border Patrol agents of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler. Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., circulated a letter Thursday among his colleagues that slammed federal statute 924(c), which addresses discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Conviction under the statute carries a minimum 10-year sentence in federal prison.

Jones and five other members of the caucus — including California Reps. Gary Miller (R-Brea), Dana Rohrbacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) — contend in the letter that El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean should not have been charged under the statute because carrying a firearm was a necessary part of their jobs, and that they used the firearms while on duty.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), a motion to delay sentencing for Ramos and Compean was denied. Sentencing is now scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 19,” the letter reads. “We urge you to take any action you can to either delay this sentencing or have the … charges dropped.”

Border agent’s family waits, worries

Sentencing only a day away for convicted pair

Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer

EL PASO, Texas — Virginia Orwig stood in the kitchen, preparing homemade apple and cherry pies. With each turn of the crust, tears fell from her eyes. Cooking is her therapy.

She was baking for her son, Border Patrol Agent Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos, and his family. It might be more than 10 years, even as many as 20, before she bakes for him again, and before the family reunites.

Ramos and his co-worker, Jose Alonso Compean, are to be sentenced Thursday for the nonfatal shooting of a Mexican national, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, who allegedly was trying to smuggle nearly $1 million in marijuana into the United States on Feb. 17, 2005, when he was shot.

For more than 20 months, the families of the two El Paso Border Patrol agents have been struggling to cope with what they believe was an unjust prosecution and conviction. Both men have proclaimed their innocence.

Ramos’ family is numb. At Orwig’s home Tuesday, their faces were somber from worry and lack of sleep.

Orwig shuffled through stacks of letters she had written to local, state and federal leaders, pleading for her son’s life. Many yielded only canned responses. She also made more than 50 phone calls to her local congressman, Sylvester Reyes, R-El Paso, and never got a return call.

Photos of better times hang from the walls of the home, almost mocking the family with memories of times when life was simpler and sweeter.

Orwig smiled at pictures of Nacho when he was in elementary school. Then she shook her head in disbelief, and held her husband Wes — Ignacio’s stepfather — close.

Just then, Ramos’ three children came through the front door, their voices carrying from the downstairs to the upstairs kitchen.

“My biggest concern is for the children,” said Orwig of her grandsons — 6, 9 and 13 — as she continued to bake pies. The house was filling up with family.

“What is left of their childhood?” Orwig cried. “Can you imagine what my son must feel, knowing that he will not be around them to watch them grow up, to share their lives together?

“What has happened to us is more than an injustice. It is a nightmare.”

Just then, Ignacio Ramos walked through his mother’s front door. He walked up to the kitchen, saw his mother baking pies, and hugged her.

“It will be OK,” he said.

His wife, Monica Ramos, came in shortly after.

It was Tuesday. Only two days left before the sentencing. For everyone close to Ignacio, it was as though death was waiting around the corner.

The kitchen fell quiet.

‘WE’RE STILL HERE’

Ignacio Ramos relived the day when he went to help his co-worker, Compean, pursue a vehicle that had tripped Border Patrol sensors near the Rio Grande in Fabens, Texas, just 40 miles southwest of El Paso.

Ramos doesn’t second-guess himself about leaving his lunch behind to help Compean when the call came through on his radio. Ramos said he had no choice but to protect his partner and himself from Aldrete-Davila, who had what Ramos believed to be a weapon in his hand after ditching the van filled with marijuana.

During the ensuing foot pursuit, as the smuggler reached the Rio Grande, Ramos said Aldrete-Davila turned and pointed what Ramos believed to be a weapon at him. Ramos fired one shot. He hit Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks, but the smuggler made his way back into Mexico and fled in a van on the other side.

“No matter how hard this has been, no matter what anybody has said or thought, we are still here,” said Ramos, looking at his wife. “Nobody’s thoughts or ideas about that day have torn us apart as a family. Nobody will ever break us — we’re still here.”

Ramos remembers seeing Compean on the ground after a scuffle with the smuggler. He didn’t know if Compean was injured. Ramos’ first thought when the smuggler turned to him was of his wife and three young sons. He shot at the smuggler to save his life and his partner’s, he said.

What he couldn’t have known is how that day would change the rest of his life, and his family’s. And what he doesn’t understand is why the Texas U.S. Attorney’s office was so adamant about prosecuting him, and why the U.S. government went to such lengths to grant immunity to a drug smuggler to testify against him.

In the past few weeks, Ramos has not slept more than a few hours every night. The lack of sleep is evident on his face, where heavy lines are visible.

His heart is breaking, he said.

He can’t look at his children without feeling a flood of tears well in his eyes. His voice becomes choked.

“I know I’m going to have to talk to them soon,” he said. “The boys know what’s going on, but I don’t have it in my heart to look at them and tell them. I have to tell them that now they’ll only have each other.”

For Monica Ramos, the emptiness has been almost unbearable. Her love for her husband is evident in the way she looks into his eyes and touches his hand.

For months, they haven’t even had an hour alone, she said. The children have become so dependent on them that even staying at their grandparents’ for the night has ended. Their 9-year-old — whose name and the names of his brothers is being withheld to protect their identities — broke down in tears after football practice last week and asked his mother: “Are they really going to take Daddy away? I don’t want Daddy going to prison.”

“Our son is withdrawing,” Monica Ramos said. “He’s becoming very quiet. We try to stay as positive as we can around them. But they know that time is drawing near. Nobody can understand the pain we are feeling as a family.”

Monica now is the sole provider for her family. They have almost lost their home on several occasions, they no longer have medical insurance, and most of the money raised for them will go to attorneys when they appeal the case on Thursday.

Their families have helped keep them afloat. Joe and Ernestina Loya have taken loans against their home and stopped plans for retirement to provide for their daughter and grandchildren. Ramos’ mother quit her job at Raytheon Corp. to help her son with the children. Times have never been tighter for the families.

“This is almost worse than a family death,” said Ernestina Loya as she stood next to Orwig in the kitchen. “In death there is closure. This is more like torture, to take innocent men and condemn them for doing their jobs.”

Threats from associates of Aldrete-Davila have left the Ramoses fearful for their children’s safety. The El Paso Sheriff’s Department has had deputies monitoring the Ramos home since the threats came by e-mail and phone.

‘IT DOESN’T SEEM REAL’

The wind howled Tuesday afternoon, its force almost frightening, the feeling of winter hanging in the air.

Ramos can barely stand to think of the upcoming holidays. He’s already told his wife what he would like to give the children if they can manage to scrape up the money, he said.

“I didn’t want them to wake up Christmas morning without anything personal from me,” he said. “It doesn’t seem real. Everything feels like it’s slipping from my hands.”

His closest cousin, Peter Valdez of Austin, drove to El Paso this week to be with Ramos. Valdez said his biggest concern is for Ramos himself.

“I really feel that the government has made him a scapegoat for a dysfunctional system,” Valdez said. “They have ruined his life.

“But my concern is mainly for Nacho right now. … I fear for my cousin’s safety if he goes to prison. I fear for his safety even if he doesn’t go. He is dealing with very powerful criminal forces — and how will his life ever go back to being what it was?”

Ignacio and Monica understand this as well. They have already written their wills, fixed power of attorney papers and spent months transferring documents into Monica’s name.

And although what has happened to them doesn’t seem real, their love for each other is unquestionable.

In Orwig’s kitchen, they looked into each other’s eyes, not saying a word. Their eyes did not move. Each was transfixed, as though appreciating a special gift.

Then Ignacio, Monica’s hand in his, smiled.

“I was never willing to sign my life away for anything,” he said. “There is nothing they can do to tear this family apart. We have not given up, and we will never give up.

“My children and my wife will always know in their hearts that I did the right thing.”

Sentencing looms for agents, jurors say they were misled

Agents’ lawyer seeks new trial in shooting case

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times

 

Three members of the jury that convicted two former El Paso Border Patrol agents of shooting a drug smuggler in the buttocks last year said they were misled into finding them guilty, according to a motion filed late Tuesday, two days before the agents are to be sentenced.Mary Stillinger, the lawyer for one of the agents, Ignacio Ramos, thought the jurors’ statements should be grounds for setting the verdict aside and ordering a new trial for Ramos and fellow agent Jose Alonso Compean.

The men are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday and face a 10-year mandatory sentence.

It was not known Tuesday night whether U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone would consider the motion for a new trial before the sentencing. Officials of the U.S. attorney’s office said they had not reviewed the new motion and could not comment on it.The three jurors, identified in court documents as Robert Gourley, Claudia Torres and Edine Woods, said they voted not guilty almost to the end of two days of deliberations.

“I did not think the defendants were guilty of the assaults and civil rights violations,” Woods wrote in a sworn affidavit.Compean and Ramos were found guilty of assault with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, a civil-rights charge and obstruction of justice in the Feb. 17, 2005, shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila near Fabens.

Stillinger said she saw some jurors crying after the guilty verdict and later got in touch with them.

Gourley, a Northeast special- education teacher, and Torres said in affidavits that the foreman of the jury told them that Judge Cardone would not accept a hung jury. And Woods said an affidavit that she heard the same statement but could not remember which juror said it.

“Essentially … they conceded their votes, believing that they did not have the option to stick to their guns and prevent a unanimous verdict,” Stillinger wrote in the motion.

Gourley said that he thought the foreman was relating something he heard directly from the judge, and when he found no mention on hung juries in the court’s printed instructions, “I had no reason to doubt the foreman,” he said in the affidavit.

After the trial, Gourley told reporters that he felt pressured by other jurors who wanted to resume their normal lives after more than two weeks of trial. He also said he thought 10 years in prison was a grossly inappropriate punishment for the agents.

“Had we had the option of a hung jury, I truly believe the outcome may have been different,” he said in the affidavit.

Flores said in her affidavit that she believed the foreman because, “he was very experienced in serving on juries. I felt like he knew something about the judge that we did not know. É I did not think that Mr. Ramos or Mr. Compean was guilty of the assaults and civil rights violations.”

The third juror, Woods, wrote in an affidavit, “I don’t remember exactly what it was that made me change my vote to guilty on these charges, but I know I was very influenced by my belief, based on the other juror’s statement, that we could not have a hung jury. I think I might not have changed my vote to guilty if I had known that was an option.”

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While I did enjoyed Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, released theatrically back in 2004, it offered obvious results in circus side-show style format. I kind of took it as Jack Ass-lite–a stupid guy (Spurlock) doing something stupid with stupid and not so shocking consequences–eat like shit and you’re going to get fat and feel bad. It was simple-minded if/then entertainment.

Now, the man who became famous (well, semi-famous) for proving that yes, gorging on excessive amounts of McDonald’s food will greatly contribute to obesity and other health-related issues, launches the second season of his mildly successful, liberally biased, reality/documentary series 30 Days tonight on FX. Spurlock, a sort of thinner, hipper version of Michael Moore minus the dry wit, continues as the show’s creator and host.

I’ve only seen a couple of episodes from last years’ inaugural season, but Spurlock, being a liberally liberal guy politically and socially, definitely skews his show to reflect what he believes people should accept and tolerate. Discussing such issues as Muslims in America, poverty, alcoholism, and more, Spurlock tends to rely on emotion rather than facts to drive his point home. And since we as human beings tend to hurtle ourselves into the void based upon what our empathic selves tell us, 30 Days probably accomplishes what Spurlock intends: emotional violence in his viewers.

Those who aren’t so easily manipulated may just look upon Spurlock’s series as a more pretentious version of Wife Swap–white trash dressed up to appear smart and magnanimous.

Tonight’s premiere episode, titled “Immigration,” will focus on the current hot-button, nation-wide issue of illegal immigration. Right off the bat, Spurlock has slanted the topic by referring to it simply as immigration rather that illegal-immigration, which is what it’s really focusing on. Anyway, here’s the episode description.

Participant: Frank George

Age: 55

Occupation: Electronic Technician

Resides: Mojave, California

Frank George, who legally immigrated with his family from Cuba to the U.S. when he was 7 years old–has staunch anti-illegal immigration views. He believes the U.S. military should man all borders and is a member of the Minutemen, a volunteer group that patrol’s the country’s borders.

For 30 days, Frank will live with a family of mixed status who fled their native Mexico in 1995. He will share a one-bedroom apartment with Rigorberto and Patty Gonzales and their children: Uriel, 22; Armida, 17; Ricardo, 11; and Karina, 10. Since Ricardo and Karina were born in the U.S., they are American citizens. Their parents and siblings are illegal immigrants.

During Frank’s 30 day experience, he will work with Rigorberto as a handyman, attend a pro-immigration rally, and travel to the Gonzales’ home in Mexico.

The Gonzales family name is a pseudonym used in this episode in accordance with the family’s request that their real names not be disclosed.

I’m looking forward to see how Spurlock will “educate” me during the 48 minute running-time of this show. Since I know nothing about the participants, I can’t say at this point if he stacked the deck for his favorable outcome, but I think it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the actual issue of illegal immigration will be overly simplified, and probably trivialized to tell the greater, emotional story in this episode. I’m all quivery with anticipation.

https://i0.wp.com/www.gurujeff.com/images/realaliens.jpg

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