969 F.3d 550 (5th Cir. 2020), 19-10884, United States v. Garner

Docket Nº:19-10884
Citation:969 F.3d 550
Opinion Judge:W. Eugene Davis, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Christopher Brent GARNER, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Stephen S. Gilstrap, Leigha Amy Simonton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas, Dallas, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellee. Kevin Joel Page, Federal Public Defender's Office, Northern District of Texas, Dallas, TX, Michael Arthur Lehmann, Federal Public Defender's O...
Judge Panel:Before Davis, Jones, and Willett, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 13, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 550

969 F.3d 550 (5th Cir. 2020)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Christopher Brent GARNER, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 19-10884

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 13, 2020

Revised August 14, 2020.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas USDC No. 4:19-CR-147-1

Page 551

Stephen S. Gilstrap, Leigha Amy Simonton, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas, Dallas, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Kevin Joel Page, Federal Public Defender's Office, Northern District of Texas, Dallas, TX, Michael Arthur Lehmann, Federal Public Defender's Office, Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth, TX, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before Davis, Jones, and Willett, Circuit Judges.

W. Eugene Davis, Circuit Judge.

Appellant Christopher Garner argues that 18 U.S.C. § 3583(g), which requires revocation of supervised release and a term of imprisonment for certain drug and gun violations, is unconstitutional under United States v. Haymond, ___ U.S. ___, 139 S.Ct. 2369, 204 L.Ed.2d 897 (2019), where the Supreme Court held that a different mandatory revocation provision, § 3583(k), violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Because § 3583(g) lacks the three features which led the Court to hold § 3583(k) unconstitutional, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

Christopher Garner pled guilty to aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. He was sentenced to 120 months imprisonment, to be followed by a five-year term of supervised release. Soon after his term of supervised release began, the United States Probation Office filed a petition alleging that Garner had violated the conditions of his release by possessing methamphetamine and attempting to falsify a drug test.

Garner was subject to mandatory revocation under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(g), which requires revocation and a term of imprisonment for defendants found to have committed certain gun or drug violations. At his revocation hearing, Garner argued that the mandatory revocation feature of § 3583(g) was unconstitutional under United States v. Haymond.

1 The district court rejected his argument, and sentenced Garner to 36 months imprisonment to be followed by a 24-month term of supervised release.

On appeal, Garner again argues that mandatory revocation under § 3583(g) is unconstitutional. Because Garner preserved his challenge, our review is de novo.2

II. DISCUSSION

Under the general revocation provision, 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), a district judge may revoke a defendant's term of supervised release if it finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant violated a condition of supervised release. And upon revocation, the district judge may impose a new prison term, subject to a maximum of one to five years depending on the severity of the original crime.

Sometimes, though, revocation is mandatory. For example, 18 U.S.C. § 3583(g) requires revocation if a defendant (1) possesses a controlled substance in violation

Page 552

of a supervised release condition; (2) possesses a firearm in violation of federal law or a condition of supervised release; (3) refuses to comply with drug testing imposed as a condition of supervised release; or (4) tests positive for illegal controlled substances more than three times in one year. And when Subsection (g) applies, the district judge must impose a new prison term up to the maximum authorized by the general revocation provision.

In United States v. Haymond, a divided Supreme Court held that a different provision of the supervised release statute, § 3583(k), is unconstitutional.[3] Subsection (k) required a district judge to impose a new prison term of at least five years and up to life if it found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant committed an enumerated federal sex crime while on supervised release.

A four-justice plurality concluded that Subsection (k) is unconstitutional under Alleyne v. United States, where the Court held that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum sentence for a crime must be submitted to a jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt.4 Haymond's original conviction of possession of child pornography carried a prison term of zero to ten years. But after the district judge found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Haymond engaged in additional conduct enumerated in Subsection (k) while on supervised release, that triggered a new prison term with a mandatory minimum of at least five years. The plurality reasoned that Subsection (k) violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments by increasing a defendant's statutory sentencing range based on facts found by a judge, and only by a preponderance of the evidence. The plurality declined to "express a view on the mandatory revocation provision for certain drug and gun violations in § 3583(g),"5 the provision Garner...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP