Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Circuit Vacates Special Condition of Supervised Release

The Second Circuit today vacated a special condition of supervised release and remanded for further proceedings. In United States v. Smith, which you can read here, the Circuit relied on its recent decision in United States v. Betts, 886 F.3d 198, 202 (2d Cir. 2018). In Betts, the Court held that “A 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.” Where the district court does not give the reason, the special condition can survive appeal “only if the district court’s reasoning is ‘self-evident in the record.'” Opinion at 3 (quoting Betts). In Smith, the district court imposed a special condition that prohibited Smith from consuming alcohol, but made no individualized assessment in determining whether to impose that condition. The district court’s comment that all of the special conditions were “necessary and justified in this case based on your offense and your history, your characteristics” was insufficient. Opinion at 3. This comment “could apply to any defendant,” and does not indicate that the condition is reasonably related to the sentencing factors of 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) or that it “involves no greater deprivation than is reasonably necessary,” as required by 18 U.S.C. 3583(d). The Court did not decide Smith’s challenge to one additional special condition, but encouraged the district court to state its reasons if it reimposed the condition.

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