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Supervised Release Condition Prohibiting Employment with Attorneys Upheld

Today, the Third Circuit, in United States v. Smith, has upheld a condition of supervised release that prohibited the defendant from gaining employment with an attorney or law firm. In Smith, the defendant pleaded guilty to a wire fraud offense, where Smith held himself out as a legal consultant. Smith had some prior convictions that revealed similar activities.

After release from a federal correctional institution, Smith received an offer for employment from local attorneys. Smith’s program review team rejected this opportunity. Smith petitioned the district court to allow the petition. The district court denied it. Smith then filed a motion for reconsideration and the government sought a modification of Smith’s terms of supervised release to include a condition banning Smith from any such employment. The court rejected Smith’s motion and granted the government’s. Smith appealed.

Smith first argued that the district court "lacked the authority to modify the conditions of his release absent changed circumstances." The Third Circuit rejected this contention, noting that the job offer was a change in circumstances warranting the modification.

Smith also argued that the condition did not bear a reasonable relationship to his offense, and was likewise not narrowly tailored. 18 U.S.C. § 3583. The Court disagreed, stating that the condition of supervised release was reasonably related to the goals of sentencing and narrowly tailored to achieve deterrence, public protection, and/or correctional treatment.

The Court also assessed the condition under the reasonableness standard set out by Booker and Cooper, and deemed the condition reasonable under these individualized circumstances. See further coverage of this case on sentencing.typepad.com.

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