Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for Dec. 19

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

United States v. Nevarez

In April 2019, police found Felipe Nevarez in possession of approximately 26 grams of methamphetamine and $16,300 in cash. The government sought and obtained an indictment charging Nevarez with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Nevarez’s case was delayed numerous times, first through a series of pre-trial continuances resulting from motions, counsel withdrawals and plea negotiations before COVID-19 prompted further delay. 

Nevarez’s case eventually proceeded to trial in April 2021, where he conceded possession of methamphetamine and only put the government to its burden of proof on the issue of intent to distribute. The jury convicted Nevarez as charged, unpersuaded by his argument that the government’s investigation failed to produce the traditional hallmarks of drug dealing. The district court sentenced Nevarez to 120 months in prison. 

Nevarez appealed and asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse his conviction and dismiss the indictment based on a violation of the Speedy Trial Act or remand his case for resentencing based on the grounds that the district court erred by denying him an offense level reduction for acceptance of responsibility.  

The 10th Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment to deny an offense level reduction. The appeals court ruled Nevarez waived his challenge under the Speedy Trial Act by failing to timely move to dismiss his indictment in a manner that complies with the statute and earlier precedents, and Nevarez’s second argument doesn’t demonstrate clear error from the district court.

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