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Second Circuit Rules that District Court Lacked Jurisdiction to Revoke Supervised Release After Release Term Had Ended

In USA v. Janvier, Docket No. 08-5978-cr (2d Cir. March 26, 2010), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals considered the issue of whether the District Court had jurisdiction to revoke the criminal defendant's supervised release after the release term had ended. In a decision written by Circuit Judge Lynch, the Court concluded that the District Court lacked jurisdiction, and the judgment revoking the defendant-appellant's supervised release was reversed.

The defendant-appellant, Phillip Janvier, had pled guilty in 2003 to several charges relating to the sale of fraudulent United States passports, and was sentenced to thirty (30) months in prison followed by three (3) years of supervised release. At the conclusion of his prison term on July 22, 2005, Janvier began serving his supervised release. On July 21, 2008, i.e. – the final day of Janvier's supervised release, the Probation Department submitted a petition to the district court, charging that Janvier had violated the conditions of his supervised release by using illegal drugs. The petition further requested that the judge issue a warrant in response to the allegations. Although the District Court judge ordered that a warrant be issued on July 21, the warrant was not actually issued until July 23, 2008. Thereafter, Janvier was sentenced to five (5) months' imprisonment and to thirty-one (31) additional months of supervised release.

On appeal, Janvier relied on the plain language of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(i), i.e. – the statute authorizing courts to revoke supervised release after expiration of the release term under certain circumstances. This statute provides that a court retains jurisdiction after the conclusion of the release term to revoke a term of supervised release for a violation that occurred prior to its expiration "if, before its expiration, a warrant or summons has been issued on the basis of an allegation of such a violation" (emphasis added). Janvier argued that because the warrant had not been issued until July 23, 2008, the court no longer had jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(i) to revoke the term of supervised release for his violation. The government argued that terms of the statute were not exclusive, and further argued that the District Court had ordered the issuance of a warrant prior to the expiration of the term of supervised release, thus preserving jurisdiction. 

The Second Circuit, looking to the plain language of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(i), agreed with Janvier. The Court looked to the legislative intent in enacting the statute, and found that Congress intended for the retention of jurisdiction to be premised upon the condition that a warrant be issued before the expiration of the term of supervised release. The Court was also not persuaded by the government's argument that the conditions of the statute were met because the District Court had ordered the issuance of a warrant prior to the expiration of the release term, noting that the very terms of the order did not issue a warrant, but rather directed someone else to issue one. Because no warrant was issued prior to the expiration of the release term, the District Court's judgment was reversed. 

To read a copy of the Second Circuit's decision, click here.

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