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SCOTUS resolves issue regarding tolling of supervised release under federal law

Mont v. United States, USSC No. 17-8995, June 3, 2019, affirming United States v. Mont, 723 Fed. Appx. 325 (6th Cir. 2018); Scotusblog page (includes links to briefs and commentary)

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e), the period of supervised release imposed as part of a federal sentence is “tolled” during “any period the person is imprisoned in connection with a conviction for a crime….” In a decision of interest to federal practitioners, the Supreme Court holds that the period the person is imprisoned includes pretrial custody in a case that is later credited toward the sentence imposed for a new conviction.

This matters in Mont’s because if his pretrial custody for a new state conviction didn’t toll the period of supervised release, his federal supervised release period would have expired before the federal district court held a supervised release hearing, and the federal court would have lost jurisdiction. (Slip op. at 2-4).

A five-justice majority holds that the text and statutory context of § 3624(e) compels the conclusion that pretrial custody that is later credited to a sentence counts as imprisonment in connection with a conviction. (Slip op. at 6-10).

Four justices dissent, reasoning that the majority “adopt[s] a backward looking approach at odds with the statute’s language and … read[s] the terms ‘imprisoned’ and ‘in connection with’ in unnatural isolation.” (Sotomayor, dissenting, at 1).

This decision resolves a circuit split. (Slip op. at 5-6). The Seventh Circuit hadn’t addressed the question, but at least one district court judge in Wisconsin has come to the same conclusion the majority reached in this case. United States v. Whitaker, 2014 WL 12878409 (W.D. Wis. Nov. 3, 2014) (unpublished).

 

 

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