Federal Criminal Justice Clinic Sentencing Victory

February 2, 2012

A few days ago, Federal Criminal Justice Clinic students Amanda Penabad and James Kraehenbuehl convinced U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo to sentence a client to probation with an ankle monitor rather than sending him to prison for 10–16 months, as the government had requested. In preparing for the argument, the students filed a 25-page sentencing memorandum that discussed the extensive mitigating factors present in their client’s case, including the fact that he had made remarkable progress in seeking treatment for and overcoming a drug addiction of his own accord before he was even charged.  Amanda and James relied on a recent change in Guideline § 5C1.1, Application Note 6 and on the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) purposes of punishment to argue that the specifics of our client’s case warranted a below-guidelines sentence. In sentencing the client to probation, Judge Castillo remarked that the client was “very fortunate” for a number of reasons, and told the client that he was “as well represented as any defendant I have ever seen in federal district court.” As a result of Amanda and James’s extraordinary efforts, their client will now be able to complete his GED in March, obtain continued drug treatment, and pursue his dream of becoming a chef, instead of spending the next year of his life behind bars. Congratulations to Amanda and James on this terrific victory!