The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, issuing its opinion in the case of Border Patrol agents Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos and Jose Compean, has affirmed all convictions except those for tampering with an official proceeding. The agents were convicted of charges arising from the shooting of an unarmed drug smuggler. Their sentences were increased because they were found guilty of committing a crime with a firearm.
Judge E. Grady Jolly noted, “For the most part, the trial of this case was about credibility, and although the jury could have gone either way, it chose not to believe the defendants’ version of the crucial events of February 17, 2005."
But Congressman Dana Rohrabacher quipped “The court has sided with the prosecutors who threw the book at the good guys, and the good guys have lost this round.” Republican lawmakers, conservative media personalities and critics of illegal immigration see the case as that of agents acting in self-defense against a dangerous drug smuggler who had illegally entered the U.S.
Ramos and Compean have been in prison 560 days, in solitary confinement. They still can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If that fails, President Bush is the only person who could shorten their sentences. The president has shown little interest in the case.