United States v. Wilks (7th Cir. October 2021)

The Federal Docket

November 17, 2021

Lashawn Wilks was indicted for possessing a firearm as a prohibited person and was subsequently released on bond with special conditions to comply with home confinement and not to have contact with any co-defendants. While on a court-sanctioned visit to another city, Wilks violated his allowed itinerary and visited a night club, where he was also observed conversing with a co-defendant. The government moved to revoke Wilks’s bond, and the district court granted the motion—though on grounds that were different from those argued by the government. Wilks appealed the revocation.

Deciding for the first time the standard of review for a revocation decision, the Seventh Circuit applied independent review with due deference to the trial court’s findings of fact. Despite this deference, the decision below was reversed and remanded. The trial court did not make a finding by clear and convincing evidence that Wilks violated the terms of his release, and even if it had, there was no explanation given as to why detention was necessary under §§ 3148(b)(2)(A) or (B). Reciting the statutory language without discussion or analysis is not sufficient.

Appeal from the Southern District of Illinois
Opinion by Sykes, joined by Rovner and Brennan

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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