Sunday, November 17, 2013

United States v. Ramirez

United States v. Ramirez case brief summary
480 F.2d 76 (1973)

Appellants, two individuals, sought review of their judgments of convictions by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, for conspiracy to import, receive, conceal, and transport marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C.S. § 176(a). Appellants challenged their convictions because the effective date of repeal of § 176(a) was prior to the date they were convicted and sentenced.

Appellants were convicted of conspiracy to import, receive, conceal, and transport marijuana and were sentenced under 21 U.S.C.S. § 176(a). Section 176(a) was repealed with an effective date of repeal over a year prior to the date appellants were convicted and sentenced.

Appellants claimed that prosecution could not have been initiated after the date of repeal for criminal acts occurring prior to the repeal.


  • The court affirmed appellants' convictions and held that prosecutions for violations of the law occurring before were permitted under the general saving statute, 1 U.S.C.S. § 109, and the special saving clauses of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, 21 U.S.C.S. §§ 702,1103. 
  • Further, appellants were properly punished under the repealed provisions because sentencing was part of their prosecution. 
  • The court also held that the sentence imposed under the repealed act was not cruel and unusual punishment prior to repeal and did not become so by the later promulgation of less severe penalties for similar prohibited conduct. 
  • Finally, the court held that one appellant did not have standing to challenge the legality of the search of his wife's purse.

The court affirmed the lower court's judgments of conviction because the prosecutions of appellants were permitted under statutory savings clauses and it was not the intent of Congress to grant amnesty to those not apprehended as of the effective date of repeal of the statute, while continuing indictment and punishment for the same conduct for violations occurring after the effective date of repeal.

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