The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral argument today in the Ramos/Compean appeal. Our local counsel, Mark Brewer, was in attendance and sat at counsel table with the attorneys for appellants Ramos and Compean.
The three-judge panel consisted of Judges E. Grady Jolly, Patrick E. Higgenbotham, and Edward C. Prado. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Stelmach argued on behalf of the United States, Robert Baskett appeared for defendant Compean, andDavid Botsford appeared for defendant Ramos.
While much of the oral argument addressed the evidence surrounding the “victim” and his subsequent criminal activity, the panel did address the wording and working of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1), including the points we raised in our amicus curiae brief. This issue consumed about one-half of the government counsel’s time, and some of Mr. Botsford’s time.
Judge Higgenbotham expressed concern there was no meaningful predicate crime. He asked Mr. Stelmach, the government attorney, if officers of the law found guilty of using excessive force while carrying a gun are subject to penalty under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1), and, remarkably, Stelmach responded in the affirmative.