Supreme Court rejects El Chapo’s petition for Certiorari

El Chapo

El Chapo

The US Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the motion of the convicted Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera without comment.

The certiorari motion, filed in April 2022, months after a federal appeals court upheld Guzman’s conviction, asked the Supreme Court to answer two questions, the first of which was more technical in nature and related to extradition. The second question asked had to do with the notorious inmate’s complaints about “examination restrictions”:

1. Whether under the precedent of that court in United States v. Rauscher supra, 119 US 407, 430 (1886) individuals are entitled to plead violations of an extradition treaty whether or not the foreign sovereign objects.

2. Whether excessive and punitive pre-trial coercive measures have compromised the petitioner’s right to legal counsel, a defense and a mandatory due process.

Long before Guzman became a convicted drug lord, he was famous for escaping maximum-security prisons in Mexico. Once extradited to the US, however, there would be no escape. Still, the defense insisted the pre-trial detention Guzman was subjected to was more than “draconian.” Guzman claimed that the “tower of expanding restrictions” deprived him of the ability to “set up defenses” and get a fair trial.

The lawyers claimed that there was no risk of absconding in the US:

But these tropes prove too much, disproving themselves and ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. As Chief Magistrate Judge Mann aptly observed, the American justice system and the prison that housed the then 60-year-old, 5ft 4in tall Guzman – Lower Manhattan’s unwelcoming MCC, was “the safest . . . Bureau of Prisons. . . Facility in the New York City metropolitan area” Basciano III, 542 F.3d at 953 n. 1 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted) – was physically and materially worlds away from the seedy Mexican officials and prisons from which he had allegedly bribed several years earlier , corrupted and tricked out.

Absent any allegation that Guzman was “collaborating” with domestic authorities, his government-vetted “American attorneys or . . . of their staffs” (164 A: 173-74 n. 17) – and given Judge Cogan’s own admission that he behaved “exemplarily” and “showed considerable grace under pressure” although “difficult [U.S.] procedures” and strict conditions of detention (165) – it is simply “not reasonable to conclude that [Guzman] pose[d] the same level of security and escape risks as his incarceration in Mexican prisons.”

Before his sentencing in 2019, prosecutors called Guzman a “ruthless and bloodthirsty leader” who should be sentenced to life in prison for his murderous drug-dealing operation. According to US government calculations, the criminal enterprise “received for distribution over $12,666,191,704.00 worth of illegal drugs for conservative purposes.”

Guzman was sentenced to life imprisonment in July 2019.

[Image via Ted Psahos/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via Getty Images]

Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected] Supreme Court rejects El Chapo’s petition for Certiorari

James Brien

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