from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Texas
STEWART, Chief Judge, and SMITH and DENNIS, Circuit Judges.
E. STEWART, Chief Judge:
Palacios, Jr. ("Palacios") appeals his 144-month
sentence for possession with the intent to distribute 100
kilograms or more of marijuana. He asserts that the district
court committed reversible error by denying him the right of
allocution before pronouncing his sentence. We agree.
Accordingly, we VACATE and REMAND for resentencing.
a licensed attorney, became involved in a drug trafficking
conspiracy wherein he oversaw the organization's drug
transportation activities, was involved in the collection of
narcotics proceeds, and represented members of the
organization in state legal proceedings to gain access to
privileged information regarding law enforcement activity.
Palacios was arrested on July 23, 2013. On August 20, 2013,
he and his coconspirators were named in a twenty-one count
superseding indictment alleging that they had, inter
alia, engaged in a conspiracy to traffic narcotics.
Palacios pleaded guilty to Count Fifteen, possession with the
intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.
district court sentenced Palacios and his codefendants on
March 6, 2014. Palacios's pre-sentence report
("PSR") placed him at an offense level of 38 with a
category I criminal history. Based on this information, the
advisory range pursuant to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines was
five to forty years' imprisonment, with a term of at
least four years of supervised release. The PSR recommended
that the district court reduce Palacios's offense level
if he clearly accepted responsibility for his crime but also
recommended that the court depart upwardly in sentencing him
because he had abused his position as an attorney.
sentencing, the district court reiterated Palacios's
right to raise any issues he had with the PSR. The court
explained to Palacios that to receive a reduction in his
offense level for acceptance of responsibility, he would have
to "generally" describe his wrongful conduct that
constituted the instant offense. The court asked Palacios,
"Do you want to tell me what it is that you did in this
conspiracy?" Palacios spoke in detail about his role in
the conspiracy, explaining that he arranged for the
transportation and delivery of marijuana to at least three
Palacios's statement, the district court reduced his
offense level by two points. The following exchange ensued:
THE COURT: All right. So I'm going to give him his two
points off for acceptance. I assume the Government will move
for the third?
THE GOVERNMENT: The Government so moves, your Honor.
THE COURT: All right, which I grant. Okay. Anything else you
want to add? I did review the letter from the church.
MR. GARCIA [Palacios's counsel]: Yes, your Honor, also
the classes that he's been taking while incarcerated in
Willacy County. We also ask the Court to consider ...