Friday, November 8th, 2013

Circuit Directs District Court to Reconsider Request for Transfer of Supervision

United States v. Murdock, No. 13-3236 (2d Cir. Nov. 8, 2013) (Katzmann, Kearse, and Wesley), available here

This decision concerns a district court’s authority to modify a defendant’s conditions of supervised release to require that supervised release be served in another district.

In 2012, Murdock was convicted in the District of Vermont of interstate transportation of stolen vehicles. He was sentenced to 30 months of imprisonment, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Murdock’s only connection with Vermont was his acquisition in Vermont of the vehicles that were the subject of his conviction. He was born and raised in the Eastern District of Michigan, where he had substantial family and business ties.

As his release date approached, Murdock asked the district court to modify his conditions of supervised release to require that his supervised release be served in the Eastern District of Michigan. Officials in Michigan agreed to accept Murdock’s case for supervision, but only if he agreed to serve six months in a Residential Reentry Center there.When Murdock told probation officials that he would not accept that condition, the district court denied the motion to transfer supervision, stating: “The Eastern District of Michigan has refused to accept supervision of Mr. Murdock, and this Court has no authority to reverse that decision.”

The court of appeals vacated the district court order’s and remanded for further proceedings. The Circuit declined to decide whether the district court had the authority to transfer Murdock’s supervised release to the Eastern District of Michigan without that district’s consent. But the Circuit concluded that the district court may have misapprehended its authority to grant Murdock’s request based on Michigan’s conditional consent. The district court stated only that Michigan had “refused to accept supervision” and that the court therefore lacked “authority to reverse that decision.” This explanation, the Circuit ruled, did not show that the court understood that Michigan’s refusal was conditional. Also, the record did not establish that Murdock had been afforded an adequate opportunity to accept Michigan’s proposed condition.



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