United States v. Lott, No. 12–5002–cr.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtJOHN M. WALKER
Citation750 F.3d 214
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Cory LOTT, Defendant–Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 12–5002–cr.
Decision Date24 April 2014

750 F.3d 214

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,
v.
Cory LOTT, Defendant–Appellant.

No. 12–5002–cr.

United States Court of Appeals,
Second Circuit.

Argued: Oct. 29, 2013.
Decided: April 24, 2014.


[750 F.3d 215]


David L. McColgin (Michael L. Desautels, on the brief), Federal Public Defender's Office, District of Vermont, Burlington, VT, for Defendant–Appellant.

Michael Drescher, Assistant United States Attorney (Tristram J. Coffin, United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, William B. Darrow and Gregory L. Waples, Assistant United States Attorneys, on the brief), Burlington, VT, for Appellee.


Before: WALKER, CABRANES, and PARKER, Circuit Judges.

JOHN M. WALKER, JR. Circuit Judge:

Cory Lott (“Lott”) appeals from the 63–month sentence imposed in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont (William K. Sessions, III, District Judge ), following his guilty plea to failure to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). Lott contends that the district court should have dismissed the indictment because at the time of Lott's interstate travel, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), Pub.L. No. 109–248, 120 Stat. 587 (2006) (codified at 18 U.S.C. § 2250 and 42 U.S.C. § 16911 et seq.), was not applicable to preAct offenders such as Lott. Lott also contends that the district court erroneously applied an eight-level sentencing enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”) section 2A3.5(b)(1)(C). We reject Lott's arguments and AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

BACKGROUND

In November 2001, Lott was convicted in New York of attempted sexual abuse and sentenced to one year probation. As a result of his conviction he was required under state law to register as a sex offender in New York, but he failed to do so. In 2006, Congress passed SORNA, which requires sex offenders to register in each jurisdiction in which they reside, work, or go to school; however, SORNA does not specify whether this requirement pertains to offenders whose offenses predate SORNA's 2006 effective date.

Lott eventually moved to South Carolina, where in 2009 he was convicted under state law for failure to register. In 2010, Lott moved to Vermont and failed to register, as the government alleges was

[750 F.3d 216]

required by SORNA. In November 2010, Lott sexually assaulted a 13–year–old girl and fled the state. In February 2011, Vermont obtained an arrest warrant for Lott on a charge of lewd and lascivious conduct in connection with this assault. In September 2011, a federal grand jury returned an indictment alleging that Lott had traveled to Vermont in late 2010 without registering as a sex offender, in violation of SORNA, 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). Twelve days later, Lott pled guilty in Vermont state court to two misdemeanor prohibited acts counts based on the assault. He was sentenced to six to twelve months' imprisonment.

Lott then moved to dismiss the federal indictment, raising a number of challenges to the validity of SORNA as applied. The district court denied the motion to dismiss. On August 6, 2012, Lott pled guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement that preserved his right to appeal his challenges to the application of SORNA. At sentencing, the district court calculated the sentencing guidelines range to be 63 to 78 months, including an eight-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2A3.5(b)(1)(C) for committing a sex offense against a minor while he was in failure-to-register status. Defense counsel objected to the sentencing enhancement. The district court overruled defense counsel's objections and imposed a sentence of 63 months' imprisonment.

Lott appeals the constitutionality of SORNA's registration requirement to conduct that preceded SORNA's effective date and also appeals the application of the eight-level sentencing enhancement.

DISCUSSION
I. The Retroactivity of SORNA
A. SORNA

SORNA was enacted to “establish[ ] a comprehensive national system for the registration of [sex] offenders.” 42 U.S.C. § 16901. The Act “requires those convicted of certain sex crimes to provide state governments with (and to update) information, such as names and current addresses, for inclusion on state and federal sex offender registries.” Reynolds v. United States, –––U.S. ––––, 132 S.Ct. 975, 978, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012). “The Act makes it a crime for a person who is ‘required to register’ under the Act and who ‘travels in interstate or foreign commerce’ to knowingly ‘fai[l] to register or update a registration.’ ” Id. (alteration in original) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a)).

The statute does not specify whether its registration requirements apply retroactively to sex offenders who are convicted prior to SORNA's enactment. However, SORNA section 113(d) 1 gives the Attorney General the “authority to specify the applicability of the [registration] requirements ... to sex offenders convicted before the enactment” of SORNA. In 2012, the Supreme Court, resolving a disagreement between circuit courts,2 and construing

[750 F.3d 217]

section 113(d), held in Reynolds that SORNA's “registration requirements do not apply to pre-Act offenders until the Attorney General specifies that they do apply.” 3132 S.Ct. at 978.

The Attorney General has issued three sets of regulations that arguably adequately specify that SORNA's registration requirements apply to pre-Act offenders: the “Interim Rule” in February 2007, 72 Fed.Reg. 8,894 (Feb. 28, 2007); the Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (“SMART”) Guidelines in July 2008, 73 Fed.Reg. 38,030 (July 2, 2008); and the “Final Rule” in December 2010, 75 Fed.Reg. 81,849 (Dec. 29, 2010). The Final Rule postdates Lott's travel to Vermont and is therefore not applicable.

B. Validity of SMART Guidelines

Lott challenges the validity of both the Interim Rule and the SMART Guidelines. Because we find that the SMART Guidelines validly extended SORNA's applicability to pre-Act offenders, we need not decide whether the Interim Rule had the same effect.

As to the SMART Guidelines' validity, Lott's argument is twofold. First, he argues that the SMART Guidelines are interpretive rules rather than substantive rules because the Attorney General's authority to issue the guidelines flows from SORNA section 112(b) 4 and because the Attorney General conceded this point. Substantive rules independently have the force of law, but interpretative rules can only clarify existing law. See United States v. Yuzary, 55 F.3d 47, 51 (2d Cir.1995). If Lott is correct, then the SMART Guidelines cannot validly specify that SORNA's registration requirements apply to pre-Act offenders. Second, Lott claims that even if the SMART Guidelines were issued pursuant to the Attorney General's substantive rulemaking authority, the Attorney General did not comply with the notice-and-comment requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 553. We disagree with both of these arguments.

The SMART Guidelines were an act of substantive rulemaking. The notice proposing the guidelines specifically stated: “These proposed guidelines carry out a statutory directive to the Attorney General, in section 112(b) of SORNA (42 U.S.C. § 16912(b)) to issue guidelines to interpret and implement SORNA.” 72 Fed.Reg. 30,210 (May 30, 2007). The reference to the Attorney General's section 112(b) authority to “interpret and implement” SORNA does not support Lott's conclusion that the guidelines are interpretative. Interpretive rules “do not create rights, but merely clarify an existing statute or regulation.” N.Y. State Elec. & Gas Corp. v. Saranac Power Partners, L.P., 267 F.3d 128, 131 (2d Cir.2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). Substantive rules, however, “create new law, right[s], or duties.” Id. Substantive rules “ implement the statute.” Chrysler Corp. v. Brown, 441 U.S. 281, 302–03, 99 S.Ct. 1705, 60 L.Ed.2d 208 (1979) (emphasis added). See also Am. Broad. Cos., Inc. v. FCC, 682 F.2d 25, 32 (2d Cir.1982) (“The

[750 F.3d 218]

phrase ‘substantive rules adopted as authorized by law’ refers, of course, to rules issued by an agency to implement statutory policy.”). By specifying that the Attorney General has the power to “implement” SORNA, section 112(b) plainly gives the Attorney General the authority to issue substantive rules.

Moreover, section 112(b)'s implementation power incorporates section 113(d)'s authorization to the Attorney General to “specify the applicability of the requirements of” SORNA to pre-Act offenders. 42 U.S.C. § 16913(d); see United States v. Whitlow, 714 F.3d 41, 46 (1st Cir.2013) (“ § [112](b)'s interpret-and-implement authority appears to subsume the narrower power to make retroactivity determinations....”); United States v. Stevenson, 676 F.3d 557, 563–64 (6th Cir.2012) (“[E]ven if the SMART Guidelines were solely promulgated under § [112](b), the Attorney General still had authority to address the retroactivity of SORNA in substantive rules pursuant...

To continue reading

Request your trial
27 practice notes
  • Make the Rd. N.Y. v. Pompeo, 19 Civ. 11633 (GBD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 29 Julio 2020
    ...specifically reflected in the Proclamation. Rules that implement statutory policy are substantive in nature. See United States v. Lott , 750 F.3d 214, 217–18 (2d Cir. 2014) (citing Chrysler Corp. v. Brown , 441 U.S. 281, 302–03, 99 S.Ct. 1705, 60 L.Ed.2d 208 (1979) ; Am. Broad. Cos., Inc. v......
  • Saget v. Trump, 18-CV-1599 (WFK)(ST)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 11 Abril 2019
    ...in the record to support their objections to the rule and thereby enhance the quality of judicial review." United States v. Lott , 750 F.3d 214, 219 (2d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The APA's notice-and-comment requirement applies to so-called "substantive rul......
  • Pavulak v. United States, Crim. No. 09-43SLR. Civ. No. 14-290-SLR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • 31 Marzo 2017
    ...comment requirements of the APA, thereby making SORNA applicable to pre-enactment offenders on August 1, 2008. See United States v. Lott , 750 F.3d 214, 219 (2d Cir. 2014) (collecting cases).In sum, movant's qualifying sex offenses in 1998 and 2005 in the Delaware Superior Court (D.I. 118 a......
  • United States v. Ross, No. 11-3115
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 24 Febrero 2017
    ...that the guidelines "were an act of substantive rulemaking" and "satisfied the notice and comment requirements"); United States v. Lott, 750 F.3d 214, 217-21 (2d Cir. 2014) (rejecting claims that the guidelines were mere interpretive rules and that they failed to follow notice-and-comment p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Make the Rd. N.Y. v. Pompeo, 19 Civ. 11633 (GBD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 29 Julio 2020
    ...specifically reflected in the Proclamation. Rules that implement statutory policy are substantive in nature. See United States v. Lott , 750 F.3d 214, 217–18 (2d Cir. 2014) (citing Chrysler Corp. v. Brown , 441 U.S. 281, 302–03, 99 S.Ct. 1705, 60 L.Ed.2d 208 (1979) ; Am. Broad. Cos., Inc. v......
  • Saget v. Trump, 18-CV-1599 (WFK)(ST)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 11 Abril 2019
    ...in the record to support their objections to the rule and thereby enhance the quality of judicial review." United States v. Lott , 750 F.3d 214, 219 (2d Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The APA's notice-and-comment requirement applies to so-called "substantive rul......
  • Pavulak v. United States, Crim. No. 09-43SLR. Civ. No. 14-290-SLR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • 31 Marzo 2017
    ...comment requirements of the APA, thereby making SORNA applicable to pre-enactment offenders on August 1, 2008. See United States v. Lott , 750 F.3d 214, 219 (2d Cir. 2014) (collecting cases).In sum, movant's qualifying sex offenses in 1998 and 2005 in the Delaware Superior Court (D.I. 118 a......
  • United States v. Ross, No. 11-3115
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 24 Febrero 2017
    ...that the guidelines "were an act of substantive rulemaking" and "satisfied the notice and comment requirements"); United States v. Lott, 750 F.3d 214, 217-21 (2d Cir. 2014) (rejecting claims that the guidelines were mere interpretive rules and that they failed to follow notice-and-comment p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT