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February 9, 2006

Sentencing as family and constitutional law

I often tell my students that all areas of law somehow find their way into becoming issues of sentencing law and policy: e.g., contract law --> plea deals; election law --> felon disenfranchisement; corporate law --> white-collar sentencing; property law --> forfeitures.  A decision from the First Circuit yesterday, US v. Smith, No. 04-2448 (1st Cir. Feb. 8, 2006) (available here), provides an interesting example of family and constitutional law becoming a matter of sentencing law and policy.

There is a lot of interest in a relatively short space in Smith, which concerns a challenge to a supervised release condition restricting a father from see his young daughter.  Here is the start of Smith:

Defendant-appellant Gregory Smith challenges a condition of supervised release, imposed by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, that directs him to stay away from his minor daughter, Alisa McDonald.  The appellant claims that this supervised release condition (i) denies him his fundamental right to associate with family members and (ii) lacks any reasonable relationship to the permissible goals of supervised release.  After careful consideration, we uphold the challenged condition.

February 9, 2006 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

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US v. Smith, No. 04-2448 finds that the district court did not abuse its discretion in requiring, as a constitution of supervised release that required him to obey the orders of a probation officer, who then ordered him to stay [Read More]

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Comments


Doug-What a disappointment. There is another decision that sets out a more family friendly framework for analysing this issue. See
United States v. Meyers, 426 F.3d 117 (2d Cir. 2005), where the Second Circuit vacated a condition of supervised release which prevented an unwed male child pornography defendant from visiting with his natural son in foster care without pre-approval of the Probation Office. While the decision did not categorically hold this condition unconstitutional because it lacked a detailed record of why the condition had been imposed, Meyers recognized that given the fundamental liberty interest implicated by the sentencing condition, the condition must be reasonably necessary and the deprivation narrowly tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest. Myrna

Posted by: myrna raeder | Feb 9, 2006 5:07:10 PM

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