Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Circuit Vacates Two Supervised Release Conditions

In United States v. Rodriguez, No. 22-1820-cr (2d. Cir. Dec. 7, 2023) (summary order), the Circuit (Kearse, Calabresi, and Nathan) vacated two drug- and alcohol-related special conditions on plain error review.

At sentencing, the district court imposed a condition requiring Rodriguez to undergo drug treatment evaluation, and “if deemed necessary,” attend outpatient drug treatment. The written judgment, however, imposed an unconditional drug treatment requirement, without the evaluation component. The Court vacated the written condition due to its conflict with the district court’s oral pronouncement at sentencing, which “ordinarily controls”; “a defendant must be present at pronouncement of sentence.” It remanded for entry of judgment consistent with the oral sentence.

The district court also imposed a condition that Rodriguez abstain from alcohol during the aforementioned treatment. While the government agreed that the treatment condition should be vacated unless an evaluation deemed it necessary, it argued that the alcohol provision could be validly reimposed if so. The Circuit disagreed. The district court did not make an “individualized assessment” of the need for this condition. And there was no record evidence rendering the condition “self-evident” or “reasonably related” to sentencing objectives: Rodriguez’s crime did not involve the use of alcohol, and he did not abuse alcohol. Vacatur of the condition was thus warranted.

Comments are closed.