« Below-guideline (but still significant) prison sentence for scientist convicted of violating a trade embargo with Iran | Main | "Aging inmates straining prison systems" »

August 16, 2010

Two interesting (and very different) sentencing procedure rulings from the Third Circuit

Back from a summer weekend, the federal circuit courts have handed down today a lot of noteworthy sentencing decision, and two from the Third Circuit seem especially blogworthy. Here are links and the starting paragraphs from the work of two different Third Circuit panels today:

USA v. Doe, No. 09-2615 (3d Cir. Aug. 16, 2010) (available here):

This appeal asks whether 18 U.S.C. § 3582(a), which forbids a district court from imposing a term of imprisonment at initial sentencing for the purpose of drug rehabilitation, restricts a district court from considering medical and rehabilitative needs when revoking a defendant’s supervised release and requiring the defendant to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison.  The District Court sentenced the defendant, John Doe, to 24 months of imprisonment upon revocation of his supervised release with the objective of helping him recover from his cocaine addiction.  On appeal, Doe challenges the procedural and substantive reasonableness of that sentence. Because we hold that the plain language of § 3583(e) governing discretionary revocation of supervised release expressly requires consideration of medical needs, we will affirm.

Newman v. Beard, No. 08-2652 (3d Cir. Aug. 16, 2010) (available here):

Appellant Clifford Newman, a convicted sex offender, argues that the Parole Board violated his First Amendment right, his right to due process, and the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution by using his refusal to admit his guilt to adversely affect his eligibility for parole.

The defendant in this second case has persistently and consistently denied his guilt to the two rapes for which he was convicted and sentenced in the early 1980s.  And though the Third Circuit claims in its ruling in Newman that "accepts all factual allegations as true"  when considering the defendant's appeal from the dismissal of his federal 1983 action, the panel later cites Herrera for the proposition that Newman is to be considered legally guilty for purposes of his claim because he had been convicted in a court of law.

In other words, in addition to spotlighting the parole challenges faced by an incarcerated defendant (particularly a sex offender) who maintains his innocence, the particualr procedure posture of the Newman case before the Third Circuit leaves me unsatisfied with the Third Circuit's rejection of the defendant's claims.  If the panel really were to accept as true the defendant's allegation that he is indeed factually innocent, then he does seem to have at least a plausible claim that requiring him to falsely admit his guilt in order to have a meaningful chance for parole release is constitutionally problematic.

August 16, 2010 at 04:10 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Two interesting (and very different) sentencing procedure rulings from the Third Circuit:


Should the false admission to a lesser crime in a plea bargain also cause some constitutional concern? While on the subject of the false, aren't most criminal law doctrines, and Rules of Evidence also false? They are not facts of nature. They are beyond false. They are supernatural, for example, intent.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 16, 2010 11:00:13 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB