FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO Hon. Gustavo A. Gelpí, Chief U.S. District
Raymond Luis Sánchez-Maceira on brief for appellant.
Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States
Attorney, David C. Bornstein, Assistant United States
Attorney, and Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez,
United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Lynch, Boudin, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
BOUDIN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
2017, Juan Santiago ("Santiago") pled guilty in
Puerto Rico district court to being a felon in possession of
a firearm and ammunition. See 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). In August 2018, the district court sentenced
Santiago to thirty-seven months in prison and ordered that
the sentence run consecutively to a seven-year sentence
Santiago had previously received for an unrelated state drug
offense. Santiago now contests the district court's
decision to impose a consecutive, as opposed to concurrent,
facts of Santiago's federal offense are not challenged on
appeal, but, for context, the parties have stipulated as
follows: On April 3, 2017, Santiago encountered police
officers in the common area of a housing project in Puerto
Rico and immediately fled on foot. The officers followed and
saw Santiago throw a firearm to the ground, at which point
they detained him. After waiving his rights, Santiago claimed
ownership of the firearm and ammunition and admitted he had
no permit for the weapon. Santiago had previously sustained a
state felony conviction for conspiring to distribute
controlled substances in March 2016. Santiago had failed to
appear at sentencing in the state proceeding in January 2017
and was sentenced in absentia. When Santiago committed the
instant federal offense in April 2017, he had not yet begun
serving his state sentence.
appeal, Santiago asserts that the district court violated
United States v. Booker by treating Sentencing
Guideline 5G1.3(a), which recommends a consecutive sentence
in a case like Santiago's, as mandatory. See 543
U.S. 220 (2005). Santiago claims the district court would
have imposed a concurrent sentence had it not felt bound by
threshold, the government argues that Santiago's appeal
is barred because, as part of his guilty plea, he expressly
waived his right to appeal "any aspect" of his
sentence if the sentence was within or below the guideline
range for a total offense level of nineteen when combined
with his criminal history category ("CHC") as
determined by the district court. At sentencing, the district
court ruled that Santiago had a CHC of III. After concluding
that the resulting guideline range for a total offense level
of nineteen was thirty-seven to forty-six months, the judge
imposed a thirty-seven-month sentence, thus satisfying the
condition on which the appeal waiver rested.
circuit, an appeal waiver is enforceable if the defendant
knowingly and voluntarily agreed to its terms and enforcement
would not result in a miscarriage of justice. United
States v. Teeter, 257 F.3d 14, 24-26 (1st Cir. 2001).
Because Santiago concedes that his appeal waiver was knowing
and voluntary, the issue is whether a miscarriage of justice
exists. See United States v. Davis, 923 F.3d 228,
239-40 (1st Cir. 2019).
argues that he is young; he has a history of mental and
emotional issues; he would have received less prison time had
the judge doubled his sentence and imposed it concurrently;
his CHC already accounts for his state conviction; and no
good will come from him serving a consecutive sentence. In
other words, Santiago says his federal sentence is excessive
when combined with his state sentence.
Guideline 5G1.3(a) recommends a consecutive sentence
"[i]f the instant offense was committed . . . after
sentencing for, but before commencing service of, [another]
term of imprisonment." U.S.S.G. § 5G1.3(a).
Santiago agrees that Guideline 5G1.3(a) applies to his case,
but argues that the district court misconstrued this
guideline as mandatory in violation of Booker.
miscarriage-of-justice exception is reserved for
"egregious cases," Teeter, 257 F.3d at 25,
is used "sparingly," id. at 26, and
"requires a strong showing of innocence, unfairness, or
the like," United States v. Gil-Quezada, 445
F.3d 33, 37 (1st Cir. 2006). Although Santiago says that the
district court applied the guidelines in a mandatory fashion,
United States v. Cardona-Díaz describes such
a claim as "too trivial to warrant discussion in light
of [his] waiver of appeal." 524 F.3d 20, 23 n.1 (1st
only is the default rule under both federal law and the
sentencing guidelines that the sentence run consecutively in
a case like Santiago's, see 18 U.S.C. §
3584(a); U.S.S.G. § 5G1.3(a), but Santiago also agrees
the district court properly could, in its discretion, have
imposed his sentence consecutively. Leaving this
"otherwise lawful, within-guidelines sentence" in
place does not work a miscarriage of justice, United ...