309 F.3d 179 (3rd Cir. 2002), 01-4247, U.S. v. Kissinger

Docket Nº:01-4247
Citation:309 F.3d 179
Party Name:U.S. v. Kissinger
Case Date:October 29, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Page 179

309 F.3d 179 (3rd Cir. 2002)



Charles KISSINGER, Appellant

No. 01-4247.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

October 29, 2002

Argued May 23, 2002.

Peter Goldberger (Argued), Ardmore, PA, Lead Appellate Counsel for Defendant-Appellant, Charles Kissinger.

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Ronald L. Kuby, New York, NY, for Appellant, Charles Kissinger.

Patrick L. Meehan, United States Attorney, Richard W. Goldberg (Argued), Asst. United States Attorney, Philadelphia, PA, for Appellee, United States of America.

Before McKEE, STAPLETON and WALLACE,[*] Circuit Judges.


WALLACE, Circuit Judge.

Kissinger appeals from the sentence he received for violating his probation. The magistrate judge had jurisdiction to impose the sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3401(a). The district court had jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3742(g). We have jurisdiction over this timely appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Because Kissinger has been unconditionally released from custody and probation in the interim, we dismiss this appeal as moot.


On July 3, 1999, Kissinger was arrested while protesting the conviction of Mumia Abu-Jamal at the Liberty Bell Pavilion in Independence National Historic Park. Kissinger was convicted under 36 C.F.R. § 2.32(a)(2) for violating a lawful government order "where the control of public movement and activities [was] necessary to maintain order and public safety." The magistrate judge sentenced Kissinger to a one-year term of probation with a condition that Kissinger not leave New York City without obtaining permission from his probation officer.

During this probationary period, Kissinger requested permission to speak at a political demonstration in Philadelphia. The magistrate judge denied this request, but Kissinger nevertheless traveled to Philadelphia. The magistrate judge sentenced Kissinger to three months imprisonment and one year probation for violating his probation condition. Kissinger contends that the imposition and administration of the probation condition violated his First Amendment rights.


Our statutory jurisdiction to consider Kissinger's appeal is not necessarily lost by his unconditional release from custody. United States v. Antar, 38 F.3d 1348, 1355-56 (3d Cir. 1994). However, we are precluded by Article III, § 2 of the Constitution from entertaining an appeal if there is no longer a live case or controversy. Nextel Partners Inc. v. Kingston Tp., 286 F.3d 687, 693 (3d Cir. 2002). We must determine whether Kissinger's claim has become moot even if the parties did not raise the issue in their original briefs. Chong v. INS, 264 F.3d 378, 383 (3d Cir. 2001). Although this action was live when filed and may have become moot only during the pendency of this appeal, Article III requires that an actual controversy exist through all stages of litigation, including appellate review. See Leivis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477-78, 110 S.Ct. 1249, 108 L.Ed.2d 400 (1990).

Kissinger does not attack his underlying conviction. Instead, he challenges the probation condition limiting his ability to travel. While his appeal was pending before this court, Kissinger completed the probationary and incarceration period. The question is whether his appeal is now moot.

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Generally, once a litigant is unconditionally released from criminal confinement, the litigant must prove that he or she suffers a continuing injury from the collateral consequences attaching to the challenged act. Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 55-56, 88 S.Ct. 1889, 20 L.Ed.2d 917 (1968), carved an exception to this rule by allowing the presumption of collateral consequences when a litigant challenges a criminal conviction. Kissinger urges us to presume collateral consequences stem from his allegedly invalid probation revocation. To be successful, Kissinger must persuade us that he need not prove, but may presume, collateral consequences sufficient to satisfy Article III. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 14, 118 S.Ct. 978, 140 L.Ed.2d 43 (1998).

In Spencer, the petitioner was convicted of felony stealing and burglary. Id. at 3, 118 S.Ct. 978. The petitioner did not attack his convictions, but his parole revocation. Id. at 8, 118 S.Ct. 978. Spencer refused to extend Sibron's presumption of collateral consequences to attacks of parole revocations, Spencer, 523 U.S. at 12, 118 S.Ct. 978, and required the petitioner to demonstrate collateral consequences adequate to meet Article III's injury-in-fact requirement. Id. at 14, 118 S.Ct. 978. While "it is an 'obvious fact of life that most criminal convictions do in fact entail adverse collateral legal consequences,' [t]he same cannot be said of parole revocation." Id. at 12, 118 S.Ct. 978, quoting Sibron, 392 U.S. at 55, 88 S.Ct. 1889. Because the petitioner completed the punishment he received from his challenged parole revocation and could not allege sufficient collateral consequences, the Supreme Court held his challenge moot. Id. at 18,118 S.Ct. 978.

Kissinger seeks to distinguish Spencer on the ground that Spencer involved a parole revocation proceeding, while the present action involves a probation revocation proceeding. Kissinger argues his probation revocation imposed a new sentence because probation revocation proceedings are heard by a judge, while parole revocation proceedings are heard before a parole board. Even assuming (but not deciding) that probation revocation proceedings impose a new sentence, Kissinger's attempted distinction would not affect our mootness determination. Several courts have applied Spencer to the revocation of supervised release. United States v. Meyers, 200 F.3d 715, 721 n. 2 (10th Cir. 2000) ("This court can discern no relevant differences between parole and supervised release which would militate against the applicability of Spencer"); United States v. Clark, 193 F.3d 845, 847-48 (5th Cir. 1999) (per curiam) (applying Spencer and dismissing as moot a challenge to the district court's extension of supervised release); United States v. Probber, 170 F.3d 345, 348-49 (2d Cir. 1999) (applying Spencer and dismissing as moot a challenge to the revocation of supervised release). Like probation, supervised release is also imposed by the judiciary, 18 U.S.C. § 3583(a) (supervised release); 18 U.S.C. § 3562(a) (probation), and its revocation is heard by the judiciary. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3) (supervised release); 18 U.S.C. § 3565(a)(2) (probation). Finally, the conditions the judiciary is permitted to impose are identical for...

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