United States v. Turner

Decision Date07 August 2012
Docket NumberNo. 11–10038.,11–10038.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Marc Christopher TURNER, Defendant–Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Benjamin David Galloway, Federal Public Defender's Office, Sacramento, CA, for defendant-appellant Marc Christopher Turner.

Richard A. Friedman (argued), United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellee the United States.

Camil A. Skipper, United States Office of the U.S. Attorney, Sacramento, CA, for plaintiff-appellee the United States.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, Garland E. Burrell, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 2:00–cr–00547–GEB–GGH–1.

Before: JOHN T. NOONAN, M. MARGARET McKEOWN, and MILAN D. SMITH, JR., Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge McKEOWN; Dissent by Judge M. SMITH.

OPINION

McKEOWN, Circuit Judge:

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (the Adam Walsh Act or the Act) sets up a process for civil commitment of “sexually dangerous persons.” This appeal raises the question of whether a civil detention under the Act constitutes a term of imprisonment that both precludes and tolls the commencement of a supervised release term of a sex offender who has completed his incarceration for a criminal conviction.

Following the expiration of his criminal sentence, Marc Christopher Turner was detained under the Adam Walsh Act's stay-of-release provision, which automatically stays release until completion of protective procedures under the Act. 18 U.S.C. § 4248(a). Under normal circumstances, Turner's term of supervised release would have commenced upon release from imprisonment. In any event, the supervised release term is tolled only “during any period in which the person is imprisoned in connection with a conviction....” 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e). Though Turner received no hearing during the entire four and a half year stay period and was detained only pursuant to a civil statute, the government would have us hold that Turner was imprisoned in connection with a criminal conviction, thus tolling the commencement of his term of supervised release. Resolution of this question requires us to consider the interplay among three different statutory schemes: 18 U.S.C. § 4248(the stay-of-release provision of the Adam Walsh Act); 18 U.S.C. § 3624(a)(the definition of term of imprisonment); and 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e) (the supervised release statute).1 We conclude that detention pending the outcome of a civil commitment hearing pursuant to § 4248 does not constitute “imprisonment,” and that Turner's term of supervised release was not tolled during his civil detention. The government and the dissent each offer a different construction of the intersection of the statutes, underscoring why, at a minimum, the rule of lenity also tips in Turner's favor.

Background

Turner pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing visual depictions of minors engagedin sexually explicit conduct in violation of § 2252(a)(2). He was sentenced to 46 months in prison and a 36–month term of supervised release. Turner was incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina (“FCI Butner”). Upon completion of his prison sentence, Turner was released.

Three years later, Turner admitted that he had violated conditions of his supervised release, and on June 29, 2007, the district court sentenced him to eight months in prison and a 22–month term of supervised release. Turner again served his prison sentence at FCI Butner. Due to good time credits, his prison sentence expired on September 7, 2007.

Prison records confirm Turner's good time credit release at noon on September 7, 2007. Two minutes later, he was admitted for Adam Walsh Act Review.” On that same day, the government filed a “Certification of a Sexually Dangerous Person” against Turner in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. See18 U.S.C. § 4248(a). Turner received an assignment of “A–Pre WA,” meaning that he was being detained pursuant to the Walsh Act's stay-of-release provision. See18 U.S.C. § 4248(a). Turner remained in civil detention for over four years at FCI Butner pending his civil commitment hearing, which was not held until February 2012. At no point after noon on September 7, 2007, was Turner in custody pursuant to a criminal sentence.

On May 17, 2010, while in detention, Turner filed a motion to terminate his term of supervised release on the ground that the term had run during his civil detention under § 4248. The district court denied the motion.

Almost five years after the expiration of Turner's prison sentence, on February 27, 2012, the district court in North Carolina held a bench trial to determine whether Turner should be civilly committed. On March 9, 2012, the court entered judgment in favor of Turner, finding that the government failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that, as a result of a serious mental illness, abnormality or disorder, Turner would have serious difficulty refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released. The court ordered the United States to release Turner. United States v. Turner, No. 5:07–HC–2167–D, 2012 WL 965985, at *2 (E.D.N.C. March 9, 2012).

Analysis
I. Statutory Background

“The starting point in interpreting a statute is its language, for if the intent of Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter.” Good Samaritan Hosp. v. Shalala, 508 U.S. 402, 409, 113 S.Ct. 2151, 124 L.Ed.2d 368 (1993) (internal quotation marks and other marks omitted). We thus begin our de novo review with the relevant statutes. See United States v. Cabaccang, 332 F.3d 622, 624–25(9th Cir.2003) (en banc).

A. 18 U.S.C. §§ 4247 & 4248—The Adam Walsh Act

Congress enacted the Adam Walsh Act in 2006. Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, Pub.L. No. 109–248, §§ 1–707, 120 Stat. 587, 587–650 (2006). Title III of the Act, codified at §§ 4247–48, establishes a procedure for civil commitment of “sexually dangerous persons” who either are in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, have been determined mentally incompetent to stand trial and committed to the custody of the Attorney General, or have had criminal charges dismissed on the basis of a mental illness. § 4248(a). The civil commitment provisions “authorize[ ] the Department of Justice to detain a mentally ill, sexually dangerousfederal prisoner beyond the date the prisoner would otherwise be released.” United States v. Comstock, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 1949, 1954, 176 L.Ed.2d 878 (2010).

To initiate civil commitment proceedings, the government must file a petition in the federal district court for the district in which the individual is confined. § 4248(a). The petition, which may be filed by the Attorney General, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or a designee of either official, must include a certification that the individual to be committed qualifies as a “sexually dangerous person.” Id.; see also United States v. Shields, 649 F.3d 78, 81 (1st Cir.2011). A person is considered to be a “sexually dangerous person” within the meaning of the Act if that individual has previously “engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation” and “is sexually dangerous to others,” defined as someone who (1) “suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder” and (2) “as a result of” that mental illness, abnormality, or disorder “would have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released.” § 4247(a)(5)-(6). “When [a Certification of a Sexually Dangerous Person] is filed, the statute automatically stays the individual's release from prison, thereby giving the Government an opportunity to prove its claims at a hearing through psychiatric (or other) evidence.” Comstock, 130 S.Ct. at 1954 (citations omitted). The relevant section, entitled “Civil commitment of a sexually dangerous person,” provides in pertinent part: “A certificate filed under this subsection shall stay the release of the person pending completion of procedures contained in this section.” § 4248(a). Although the Adam Walsh Act alters the normal procedures for the release of a prisoner, § 4248(a) contains no reference to a prisoner's term of imprisonment. The Act simply authorizes detention beyond the ordinary release date.

B. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(A)—Term of Imprisonment

Pursuant to § 3624(a), [a] prisoner shall be released by the Bureau of Prisons on the date of the expiration of the prisoner's term of imprisonment....” This language dovetails with § 3621(a), which provides that [a] person who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment ... shall be committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons until the expiration of the term imposed....” (emphasis added). As used in § 3624(a), “term of imprisonment” refers to the sentence imposed by the sentencing judge. See Barber v. Thomas, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 2499, 2506, 177 L.Ed.2d 1 (2010). Under normal circumstances, a prisoner is released from the Bureau of Prisons' custody “on the date of the expiration of the prisoner's term of imprisonment, less any time credited....” § 3624(a) (emphasis added).

C. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(E)—Supervised Release

In imposing a term of imprisonment for a felony or misdemeanor, a court “may include as a part of the sentence a requirement that the defendant be placed on a term of supervised release after imprisonment....” § 3583(a). “A prisoner whose sentence includes a term of supervised release after imprisonment shall be released by the Bureau of Prisons to the supervision of a probation officer who shall, during the term imposed, supervise the person released to the degree warranted by the conditions specified by the sentencing court.” § 3624(e). A term of supervised release “commences on...

To continue reading

Request your trial
23 cases
  • United States v. Aholelei
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Hawaii
    • 22 Diciembre 2017
    ...supervisee remains in prison (or his sentence has been stayed, and he is in custody for a different reason). See United States v. Turner, 689 F.3d 1117, 1119 (9th Cir. 2012) (explaining that release terms "commence[] on the day the person is released from imprisonment"); Span, 75 F.3d at 13......
  • Wright v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, Civil Action No. 14–272 (RBW)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • 17 Agosto 2015
    ...at 28. However, the FOIA is a civil statute and "the rule [of lenity] does not generally apply to a civil statute." U.S. v. Turner, 689 F.3d 1117, 1125 (9th Cir.2012). Moreover, "the rule of lenity only applies if, after considering text, structure, history, and purpose, there remains a gri......
  • United States v. Golden Valley Elec. Ass'n
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • 7 Agosto 2012
  • Nievod v. Sebellius
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • 7 Febrero 2013
    ...interpreting a statute is its language, for if the intent of Congress is clear, that is the end of the matter.'" United States v. Turner, 689 F.3d 1117, 1119 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Good Samaritan Hosp. v. Shalala, 508 U.S. 402, 409 (1993)). In construing a statute, a court must give effec......
  • 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