Skip to main content

Condition of Supervised Release Requiring Reporting of All Contact with Police Violates Due Process

In United States v. Maloney, No. 06-3745 (3d Cir. Jan. 17, 2008), the Court of Appeals held that a condition of supervised release which required the defendant to "notify the probation officer within seventy-two hours of being arrested or questioned by a law enforcement officer" was impermissibly vague as applied in the factual setting of the case. Maloney was convicted after a hearing violating three separate conditions of his supervised release, viz., 1) failing to notify his probation officer after he had been questioned by the police for failing to display a peddler’s license, 2) failing to report that he had purchased or had access to a vehicle and; 3) committing the crime of eluding a law enforcement officer.

With regard to the first violation, subsequent to commencing supervised release, Maloney began working as a shoe peddler and at some time later was issued a summons for failing to display his peddler’s license. The summons was ultimately dismissed as untimely. However, the probation officer charged Maloney with failing to report having been questioned by the police in connection with the issuance of the summons. The District Court held that Maloney violated the condition that he "notify the probation officer within seventy-two hours of being arrested or questioned by a law enforcement officer" when he failed to report that a law enforcement officer asked him for his peddler’s license and that the issuance of a summons should have impressed upon him the importance of reporting the incident. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction.

The Court stated that "a condition of supervised release violates due process and is void for vagueness if it either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application." Here, the Court noted that the probation officer testified that the condition meant that Maloney had to report all "contact" with the police. The district court commented that it would be "ridiculous to suggest that the condition was so broad as to encompass the basic questions asked when one enters a federal building or undergoes a routine security check at an airport." Maloney testified that he was routinely asked to produce his peddler’s license and that on the day in question he showed the license but was cited because it was not visible on his cart. The Court of Appeals stated that: "The divergent attempts to interpret the term ‘questioned’ during Maloney’s revocation hearing illustrate the ambiguous scope of this condition of supervised release." The Court noted that there is general consensus that a simple request for identification would not have violated the condition despite the fact that such a request would fit within the definition of the condition. The Court of Appeals sighted the "glaring lack of consistency regarding the level of interaction required to transform basic contact with law enforcement into an incident that must be reported" as indicative of the vagueness of the condition. The Court concluded that condition was impermissibly vague in the context of Maloney’s case.

Noting the low standard of preponderance of the evidence and relaxed procedural safeguards at revocation hearings, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction on the remaining two violations. Nevertheless, the matter was remanded since the sentence may have been impacted by one of the conditions having been vacated.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Double Jeopardy Claim Falls Short on Deferential Habeas Review

In the habeas matter of Wilkerson v. Superintendent Fayette SCI, Nos. 15-1598 & 15-2673, the Third Circuit defers to a state court determination that the defendant’s conviction of both an attempted murder count and an aggravated assault count based on the same altercation did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause.
The evidence was that during the altercation, the defendant both struck the victim in the head with a gun and shot him in the chest. The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld consecutive sentences on the theory that the evidence was sufficient to permit a jury to find the striking to support one count and the shooting the other. Despite the jury instructions’ and verdict form’s failure to require each of these discrete findings, the Third Circuit holds that the state court’s reasoning was sound enough to withstand deferential review the AEDPA’s “clearly established Federal law” limitation. “[W]here the jury instructions were merely ambiguous and did not foreclose the jury…

Mailing Threatening Communications is a Crime of Violence and a Judicial Proposal for Reform of the Categorical Approach

In United States v. Chapman, __F.3d__, No. 16-1810, 2017 WL 3319287 (3d Cir. Aug. 4, 2017), the Third Circuit held that mailing a letter containing any threat to injure the recipient or another person in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(c) qualifies as a crime of violence for the purposes of the career offender enhancements of the Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 4B1.1(a).The Court acknowledged in a footnote that the analysis is the same for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 871, threats against the president.


The Court began its analysis by reviewing the definition of “crime of violence” and specifically the meaning of the words “use” and “physical force.”Quoting United States v. Castleman, 134 S. Ct. 1405 (2014), and Tran v. Gonzales, 414 F.3d 464 (3d Cir. 2005), it defined “use” as “the intentional employment of force, generally to obtain some end,” which conveys the notion that the thing used “has become the user’s instrument.” The Court confirmed the definition of “physical force” as “force ca…

A Traffic Stop Followed by a Summons is not an Intervening Arrest for Sentencing Guidelines Purposes

In United States v. Ley, __ F.3d __, 2017 WL 5618617 (3d Cir., Nov. 22, 2017), the Third Circuit held that a traffic stop, followed by the issuance of a summons, is not an intervening arrest for the purpose of calculating a defendant’s prior convictions under USSG § 4A1.2(a)(2).   Defendant John Francis Ley received two speeding tickets on two consecutive days.  After writing each ticket, the police released Ley and informed him that the matter would proceed via summons.  No arrest was made and Ley was sentenced for both matters on the same day. The District Court, however, held that the issuance of the summons constituted an intervening arrest for the purposes of the Guidelines and each ticket therefore merited an individual criminal history point.  Ley appealed.  Looking at the ordinary meaning of both “arrest” and “summons,” as well as the Supreme Court’s history of distinguishing arrests from other interactions with law enforcement, the Third Circuit, joining three other circuits …