Sunday, September 5th, 2010

PC World

United States v. Epstein, No. 09-4025-cr (2d Cir. September 3, 2010) (Miner, Cabranes, Straub, CJJ) (per curiam)

In United States v. Merced – argued and won by our favorite blogger – the circuit held that prior terms of imprisonment for supervised release violations counted toward, and limited, the statutory maximums contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3). Congress “fixed” Merced in 2003’s PROTECT Act. This per curiam holds that the amended statute applies where the underlying offense occurred after the enactment of the new legislation.

Defendant Epstein received a twenty-four month violation sentence, but argued that the district court was obligated to credit him for a prior twelve-month violation sentence. This would have been required under the old statute, per Merced. But the amended statute “eliminate[s] the credit for terms of imprisonment resulting from prior revocations.” This outcome is clearly dictated by the change to the statute, which now indicates that the prescribed statutory maximum sentences apply “on any such revocation.”

While the PROTECT Act legislation as a whole would seem to apply only to sex offenders, there is nothing in the amendment to § 3583(e)(3) that limits the amendment in this way. Similarly, while Epstein made a strong policy argument against what Merced called “an endless cycle of consecutive terms of imprisonment and supervised release based on a single underlying offense,” the clear language of the statute left the court with no choice.

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