In an extremely unusual decision, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa said Tuesday that he made a “clear error” by sentencing a local attorney to 45 months in prison — and slashed his sentence to just 30 months.
“I do feel that I did make an arithmetical, technical or other clear error in failing to adequately allow for the loss of his license to practice law. And, therefore, his means of earning a living for himself and his family,” Hinojosa said Tuesday afternoon, when Jarvis returned to court for a re-sentencing hearing. “As a result, I do think that I did commit an error as to where I ended up, in not properly considering that.”
Along with the prison sentence, Hinojosa changed the term of supervised release.
The original sentence included 2 years of supervised release with 15 months on home confinement.
“Rather than staying at home, he needs to go do some community service,” Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa settled on 3 years of supervised release without any home confinement. Jarvis must perform 300 hours of community service instead.
“I have now spent quite a bit of time thinking about this,” Hinojosa said. “And find this the appropriate way to handle this correction.”
Under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a judge may correct “a sentence that resulted from arithmetical, technical, or other clear error” within 14 days.
“Obviously you have a conscientious judge,” said Douglas A. A’Hern, an attorney with offices in the Rio Grande Valley and Houston.
If, within the 14-day window, a judge determined a particular sentence didn’t account for a factor the judge normally considers, a corrected sentence may be warranted, A’Hern said.
“It’s unusual,” A’Hern said. “But it’s not unheard of.”
Attorney Carlos A. Garcia of Mission, who represented Jarvis, said his client was grateful Hinojosa reconsidered the 45-month prison sentence.
“And I think the court has found the appropriate sentence in this case,” Garcia said.
Hinojosa, though, said he remained deeply concerned by what Jarvis did.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, which prosecuted the case, Jarvis sold court documents to smugglers on at least eight occasions from 2017 to 2021.
Jarvis downloaded the documents from PACER, a computer system that allows the public to access federal court records.
PACER charged him 10 cents per page. When he pleaded guilty, Jarvis admitted that he sold the documents for $1,000.
The documents allowed the drug trafficking organization to prove shipments had been seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“I think it has been a shock to all of us that he was involved in something like this,” Hinojosa said.
By selling court documents to drug smugglers, Jarvis damaged trust in the legal community, Hinojosa said, and destroyed his career.
“Mr. Jarvis, I’m sorry you’ve done this to yourself and your family and to the profession,” Hinojosa said. “You’re young enough that maybe you can correct it by doing the right things as time goes on.”
Jarvis said he would.