The Circuit issued decisions in four criminal cases today.
In United States v. Brown, 14-4643, the Court vacated and remanded for resentencing. The district court had imposed special conditions of supervision, but had not given any explanation for the conditions or stated the relationship between the conditions and any sentencing objective. But a district court does not have “untrammeled” discretion in imposing special conditions of supervised release, the Circuit explained, and “usual and severe conditions,” like those impinging on a First Amendment right, will be “carefully scrutinize[d].” The district court “is required to make an individualized assessment when determining whether to impose a special condition of supervised release and to state on the record the reason for imposing it.” Because the district court failed to do so, and the reason for the special conditions was not “self-evident in the record,” the Circuit vacated the special conditions and remanded the case to the district court. The special conditions challenged by Brown, who had been convicted of possessing child pornography, were restrictions on his ability to view adult pornography and child erotica. The Circuit acknowledged the possibility of a nexus between viewing these materials and the objectives of sentencing someone on a child pornography charge, but there was nothing in the record to support that link. Mr. Brown was represented by Assistant Federal Defender Yuanchung Lee of the Federal Defenders of New York.