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SCOTUS: Justices add three new cases to this term’s docket

In United States v. Haymond, the justices will weigh in on a challenge to the constitutionality of a federal law that requires additional prison time for sex offenders who violate the terms of their supervised release. Full Article

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  1. CR

    Has this case, United States v. Haymond, been mentioned here yet? SCOTUS just granted cert to the petitioner (United States) on appeal from a 10th Circuit ruling that was in favor of the Haymond, the respondent.

    Issue: Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit erred in holding “unconstitutional and unenforceable” the portions of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) that required the district court to revoke the respondent’s 10-year term of supervised release, and to impose five years of reimprisonment, following its finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent violated the conditions of his release by knowingly possessing child pornography.

    Haymond was sentenced by a district court to five additional years in prison and five more years of supervised release for violating the terms of his supervised release. He appealed to the 10th Circuit, and they vacated the sentence and sent it back for resentencing. They said that the federal law under which his supervised release was revoked and that required additional prison time was unconstitutional because it takes away a sentencing judge’s discretion (something Chris F has remarked on generally) and imposes additional punishment based on conduct for which he had not been convicted by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

    I haven’t read any of the briefs yet, but based on the Issue on which the court granted certiorari, the district court’s decision that the 10th vacated had been based on a preponderance of evidence. The US Solicitor General appealed the 10th’s ruling.

    More here:

    • TS

      Looks like Justice Gorsuch will get to review the work of his former colleagues at the Tenth. Could be interesting review.

      Can read more here on this particular case from Congressional Research Service (CRS): Sex Offenders and Supervised Release Revocation Constitutional?

    • Dustin

      I would anticipate the USSC to rule along the lines of, that if the government wants to revoke probation based on new charges, no problem. What they can’t do is add to the original sentence based on new charges. If they want to do that, they have to start prosecution of the new charges from square one; Miranda, attorney, proof beyond reasonable doubt, etc. Just as in in the statutes of the states, though often ignored.

      Can’t speak about anywhere else, but in Georgia they like to trump up a frivolous PO violation to revoke probation first so they can preserve the new charge. Had a friend in prison catch drug charges while on probation. First they pulled his paper over missing curfew twice (over 4 years). They didn’t indict the drug charges until he was about 8 months from release.

    • David

      (@ CR: Haymond is the 1st case mentioned in the article that accompanies the post.)

      • CR

        @David, yes I know. It looks a little confusing and could easily give one reason to wonder, as you evidently did, why I’m asking about a case that is the subject of the article where my post appears.

        The explanation is that I didn’t post my question to this thread. I don’t believe this thread existed at the time I made my post. I posted my comment in the October General Comments thread. It appeared here instead.

  2. AJ

    Yet another technical question riding on the back of a RC. From reading the SG’s petition and the 10th’s case, I don’t know that there’s much to be gained by most of us. It’s a tricky case that seems to hinge on the mandatory minimum applicable only to RCs who commit further minor-involved sex offenses while supervised. I see the 10th’s rationale, and the mandatory aspect sure seems punitive, but I tend to see it as conversion of the sentence from supervised release to prison time.

    This guy sounds like he’s somewhere on the left side of the RC bell curve, but I certainly hope he prevails. Congress (read: Rep. Chr!s Sm!th) obviously singled out RCs for extra attention, so I’d like to see it struck for that reason alone.

    I also have to say I was bothered by the SG continuing the lie of “the heightened rates of recidivism among” RCs. That’s irrelevant to this case, dude, never mind that it’s patently false according to your own Department’s studies. But why let truth get in the way when you can gin up fear and concern in the 9 Black Robes?

    On another note, the petition highlights that the Feds, too, should have consulted here before acting. 18 U.S.C. 3583(d) says in part that “the defendant not commit another Federal, State, or local crime during the term of supervision.” Don’t those rubes in D.C. know there are no such things as local laws, thus there cannot be a “local crime”? Even a former sheriff in TX knows that.

    • CR

      True, like Gundy, this is another issue with broad implications that isn’t likely to be of great help to most of us. Not directly, anyway. Yet, it is important in its own right. If the revocation of supervised release and, more to the point, the imposition of additional punishment for an existing offense based on the commission of a new offense can be done without a trial by a jury of one’s peers and proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, that is a serious abrogation of a constitutional guarantee.

      It’s not surprising to me that some of these tricky legal/technical issues “ride on the back of a RC”. We seem to bear the brunt of overreaching laws passed by legislatures zealously bent on punishing us to the greatest extent possible, with little regard for constitutionality, and with tremendous popular support.

      • Joseph

        I beg to differ what you said about Gundy. Should Gundy prevail – and it looks really good for him (and us) the way I see it – the retroactivity of SORNA will be undone, leaving hundreds of thousands of RCs uncovered by SORNA. Then, if congress should attempt to fix that, it will be very much so explicitly retroactive. Then some enterprising attorney will have something more concrete to work with.
        Take a tip from the anti-abortionists. The way to work this insanity is to chip away at the edges until the whole thing is unworkable from an administrative standpoint. Laws like this are effective only when it’s the same law for everybody. Gundy is nothing to sneeze at.

  3. Chris F

    This is a good read in the reasons from the defendant why SCOTUS shouldn’t take the case and let the 10th decision stand:

    If you read page 19 you can see some arguments that could be used against a mandatory registry. Just like taking away a judge’s discretion in sentencing duration, the legislature taking away registration discretion for need and duration affects everything about a sentence and makes things way too complex.

    Here is a quote of the Booker SCOTUS ruling referenced even if by the dissent: “The
    constitutional jury trial requirement would nonetheless affect every case,”
    the Court wrote. “It would affect decisions about whether to go to trial. It
    would affect the content of plea negotiations. It would alter the judge’s role
    in sentencing…” Id. “It would create a system far more complex than what Congress would have intended.” Id. Congress’ intent was that supervised
    release was to provide post-release monitoring by a district court judge “to
    assist individuals in their transition to community life.”

    Don’t you think a mandatory registry that makes it so a defendant can have his sentence essentially changed by every city in the country at any time even after the judge decided period of government supervision ends would add complexity, ruin negotiations, and alter the judge’s role to punish, rehabilitate, and protect the public?

  4. David

    I am very glad to see SCOTUS taking on another case involving a registered sex offender. As seen in Gundy, a number of the questions/comments by the justices appear to highlight an increasing understanding of the excessiveness of current registrirs (as opposed to the original Alaska-Roberts-Price Club Membership case.) The more they see of these cases – whether granting cert or not – the more this issue will increasingly come to their consciousness which I believe will be a good thing for all of us registrants. I believe they will ultimately realize “These registries have become far too overbroad and punitive. This is not what was initially intended. They are unconstitutional and must change.”

  5. Eric

    I would normally be happy about this, but I think this is a terrible case for the highest court to review, as this defendant was a poor representative of our community. He had multiple probation violations including CP possession, was not following the system at all, was defiant, and not a good example of someone I want winning in our defense. This guy clearly has not learned anything form his past errors and I am afraid he will be back at it if he wins which will be a bad mark on us, and the public and politicians can say, “See! We told you.” I fully agree with what is being appealed, additional sentencing for a violation of probation is a conviction without a trial. I just wish it was a case that reflected better on our community.

    • American Detained in America

      That was my thought! We need a major case reaching SCOTUS, but this isn’t it! Sorry, but if you’re on probation or parole and get caught not complying AND have possession of child porn, you SHOULD be getting additional time because it warrants new charges! Why is SCOTUS bothering with this one?

    • CR

      @Eric and @American Detained in America, are you just reading the charges against him and judging Haymond to be guilty based on that? Be sure to read the Respondent’s brief as well. IMO, it casts some doubt on the allegations against him.

      Be that as it may. Neither you nor I know if he is guilty or not, nor is that even the issue. The problem is that nobody else knows, beyond reasonable doubt, either. He was sentenced to additional prison time “on a preponderance of the evidence”, not with “proof beyond reasonable doubt” that he committed the alleged crime for which his supervised release was revoked. It was for that reason the 10th Circuit found the law requiring additional punishment unconstitutional.

  6. American Detained in America

    This is a waste of time for SCOTUS, not to mention a major blunder the the courts. He should have been charged with a new crime for once again possessing child porn.

    • CR

      @American Detained in America, “He should have been charged with a new crime for once again possessing child porn.”

      You mean for allegedly possessing child porn. It wasn’t proven in a court of law by a jury of his peers beyond reasonable doubt. The 10th said that makes the law imparting his add-on sentence unconstitutional. The US SG disagreed, and petitioned. That’s what this case is about.

      Whatever it is, it’s not a waste of time for SCOTUS. Not to my knowledge does SCOTUS grant cert to a petition merely to affirm a lower court’s ruling. At least four justices think this case presents a question that needs to be answered. It may be that SCOTUS wants to reverse it, in full or in part, but it’s probably not just to affirm.

      Don’t look at this as a case for “us”. It’s not. That doesn’t mean it’s not important. And Haymond doesn’t represent “us” or “sex offenders” or “our community”. I suspect he’d prefer that he didn’t even have to represent himself (i.e., cert deined). He had already won at the 10th, after all.

      • American Detained in America

        True…I stand corrected.

      • AJ

        “I suspect he’d prefer that he didn’t even have to represent himself (i.e., cert deined).”
        If he so desires, SCOTUS will assign legal counsel to him for the oral argument. Also, his cert was not denied, his petition was granted on October 26.

        • CR


          Haymond won at the 10th Circuit. He was not the party that petitioned SCOTUS. The US Solicitor General did. SCOTUS granted certiorari to the US SG’s petition.

          What I meant by the statement you quoted is that Haymond probably wished certiorari had been denied to the US SG’s petition so that he wouldn’t be involved in a case before SCOTUS. He’s being dragged before SCOTUS not by his own choice.

          And I meant “represent himself” loosely. He filed a request to proceed in forma pauperis, and SCOTUS granted it. If you read his responden’ts brief, you’ll see that he does have counsel.

  7. TS

    I want to know from our more tech savvy forum contributors here about the placing of these said items that has gotten this person into the water they are in currently. It is allegedly through the online gaming these images have found their way onto the computer but have not been accessed to be viewed, as written.

    1) How can one prevent such images or any images one does not want on their computer from being installed or placed by an outside entity into computer locations that one would never know of? The obvious answer is don’t access the outside world via a computer, but in reality that is not quite practical anymore even though possible if you choose. The other obvious answer is don’t access suspicious websites. So, but technically speaking given we know of those who are not so friendly to people and would do things like this to others, how can one protect themselves?

    2) This will sound like a conspiracy theory but for those who would do this, why would they put them so far down into a system that user would not know they are there? How can someone see if they have been accessed to be viewed? Is it possible people are intentionally placing them specifically onto the computers of specific people, e.g. entrapment, who online game or other online entity? With Best Buy being a de-facto search agent for LE, I just have to wonder at times. No, I am not nuts, but do try to look at things from other angles that many would publicly dismiss, but privately wonder themselves.

    3) Bottom line – He did not click on anything or receive anything suspicious according to the docs, but, to me, it appears suspect given the technical circumstances known.

    Any positive words to the wise in our technical age would be helpful.

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