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August 4, 2005

Martha agrees(?) to three more weeks of home confinement

Martha Stewart is going to spend three extra weeks subject to home confinement, though the details of exactly why and how this came to pass are sketchy.  Here are parts of the report from this Chicago Tribune article:

Lawyers for Martha Stewart Wednesday confirmed that the domestic doyenne has agreed to extend her home confinement until Aug. 31. The move comes after published reports raised the specter that Stewart violated the rules of her sentence with an impromptu visit to an upstate yoga center and unauthorized use of an all-terrain vehicle on the grounds of her Bedford, N.Y., home....

Chris Stanton, chief federal probation officer for the Southern District of New York, said Wednesday that an extension of home confinement could be implemented by federal authorities if there were minor violations of agreed upon conditions that "are not serious enough to warrant a full revocation of the supervised release."

Perhaps folks more familiar with federal practice can use the comments to help me figure out whether Martha got the same treatment that a less prominent convict likely would have received.  Of course, without more details, it is hard to determine whether Martha got a break by not being revoked, or suffered uniquely because her high profile precluded the feds from overlooking a minor transgression. 

Whatever the reality, I find it interesting that the statement by Martha's lawyer Walter Dellinger speaks of Martha agreeing to an extension of the terms of her home confinement.  I wonder what the government was threatening in order to secure this agreement.

August 4, 2005 at 01:20 PM | Permalink


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They must have been threatening a lot because it's caused the postponement of her new show. I don't think the judge--who pre-Booker gave her the minimum--would violate MS, but the violation proceeding would have been very embarassing.

Posted by: Robert Little | Aug 4, 2005 1:59:50 PM

I don't believe she got a break or was prejudiced by her high profile. The Sentencing Guidelines, not effected by Blakely/Booker in this area, are clear. Ms. Stewart's was a Grade C violation (USSC Chapter 7) and, if Judge Cedarbaum elected to revoke supervised release, she could have imposed an additional three month term of incarceration. Here, the specifics of the violation(s)were likely never reported to the district judge, but were resolved by the probation officer making "an affirmative determination that the alleged violation meets the criteria for non-reporting." (Chapter 7B1.2, Application Note 1). By contrast, had Ms. Stewart merely failed a drug test, she would have been subject to the requirement of mandatory revocation and imprisonment under 18 USC 3665(b). All in all, the matter was quite fairly disposed of.
Paul Kurtz, Executive Director
Federal Inmate Advocates

Posted by: Paul Kurtz | Aug 5, 2005 8:20:33 AM

Thanks, Paul, that's very, very helpful.

Posted by: Doug B. | Aug 5, 2005 3:24:56 PM

With respect to Martha Stewart and why she "agreed" to have her home confinement extended. What normally happens in a situation like this is that the Probation Officer will provide a waiver (of hearing) as to a new or modified condition. At the time the request is made that this waiver be signed, the defendant is informed that should the waiver not be executed, a hearing will be requested - and, if granted, the recommendation for the added or modified condition may be the same or different.

However, it should be noted that this wouldn't have been a per se violation of Supervised Release because Ms. Stewart is not yet on Supervised Release. That said, SR can (in some situations) be held to be violated prospectively.

These issues come up quite regularly on my listserv, BOPWatch at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BOPWatch.

Howard O. Kieffer
Federal Defense Associates
714-836-6031 x 250
Facsimile 714-543-5890

Posted by: Howard O. Kieffer | Aug 7, 2005 11:21:23 AM

Martha Stewart has been on supervised release since 3/4/05. The home confinement is a special condition of her supervervised release and can be extended without a hearing by modifying her conditions of release. She would have to sign a waiver to the modification. If she refused, the a court hearing would be held to determine what should happen.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 8, 2005 1:02:07 PM

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