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June 4, 2005

1st Circuit addresses Blakely's applicability to revocation of supervised release

This past Friday was a day for interesting (and arguably ground-breaking) Apprendi/Blakely decisions.  In addition to the notable Second Circuit ruling on Apprendi's applicability to New York's persistent felony offender statute in Brown v. Greiner (basics here), Friday also brought from the First Circuit US v. Work, No. 04-2172 (1st Cir. June 3, 2005) (available here), which rules that Blakely is not applicable to judicial determinations in the course of revoking supervised release and ordering a term of imprisonment. 

Work is an interesting ruling for a number of reasons, and it provides useful background on both Blakely and the federal law of supervised release.  Here is the decision's opening paragraph:

In this appeal, defendant-appellant Timothy P. Work argues that the Sixth Amendment, as interpreted in Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), applies to the revocation of supervised release and the consequent imposition of additional prison time. He posits that when such a revocation leads to additional imprisonment above and beyond the top of the original guideline sentencing range, the facts underlying the revocation must be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.  We conclude that the appellant's argument is doubly flawed: it is premised not only on a misunderstanding of supervised release but also on an attempted importation of Sixth Amendment jury trial rights into an area in which they do not belong.

Among other interesting aspects of the Work court's discussion of these issue is this (debatable?) passage addressing not only the scope of the Sixth Amendment, but also due process concerns and requirements (citations omitted):

The difficulty with the appellant's argument is that this type of judicial factfinding [i.e., finding facts to confirm violation of supervised release conditions] does not pose a Sixth Amendment problem.  The law is clear that once the original sentence has been imposed in a criminal case, further proceedings with respect to that sentence are not subject to Sixth Amendment protections.  To be sure, the conversion of a less restrictive form of punishment, such as supervised release, to a harsher one, such as imprisonment, does entail a deprivation of liberty (albeit conditional liberty).  As such, the accused must be accorded a suitable panoply of due process protections.  The process that is due, however, does not encompass the full sweep of the Sixth Amendment's prophylaxis (such as a right to a jury trial on the facts of the alleged violation). Nor are facts required to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in such a proceeding.

(First Circuit aficionados get only one guess as to the author of Work and its discussion of "the Sixth Amendment's prophylaxis.")

June 4, 2005 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

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US v. Work, No. 04-2172, concludes that Blakely doesn't apply to revocation of supervised release, because, the sixth amendment just doens't apply to those proceedings, anyway. [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 4, 2005 4:41:58 PM

Comments

I have been trying to get info on this
Blakely issue and came upon this info.
I can't get anyone to return an email w/
information. Basically, I am trying to
find out this: my son signed a plea agreement
for concurrent sentences and then the
judge gave him consecutive sentences after
a revocation hearing. No lawyers I have contacted
will deal with what they call the
bumbling idiots in DOC. My son filed a
motion from prison regarding his not being
released. We were told that the 3 offices
that were sent the motion didn't get them.
There has now been another motion sent and to
date no word from the judge. I need someone
to give me some guidelines on where to go
for help. It's like these people in prison
fall into a black hole. HELP. I know this
is choppy but there's so much to it. I need
HELP with finding help. I have money to
pay for help. I'm not asking for anything
free. Just help.

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