United States v. William Block (7th Cir. June 2019)

Supervised Release/Revocation – The Court held that the district court lacked jurisdiction because a summons or warrant for revocation was not issued to the defendant before the defendant’s term of supervised release had expired, and the defendant’ supervised release term was not tolled by his time in custody after his arrest for alleged violating his supervised release terms.

Supervised Release/Notice of Revocation – The Court also held that there was no “warrant” or “summons” issued as required since the district court’s minute orders detaining the defendant and notifying him of a future hearing did not constitute a warrant or a summons.

The Court vacated the district court’s judgment revoking the defendant’s term of supervised release and imposing a prison term that exceeded that term. The Probation Office reported the violation of the defendant’s release conditions in the last two months of the defendant’s term of supervised release, and the defendant was ordered detained pending final resolution of the revocation proceedings. The district court did not conduct a hearing and revoke the defendant’s supervised release for over a year later, however, at which time it imposed an additional sentence of 60 months based on the revocation. The defendant had originally been sentenced to 75 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

The Court held that the district court lacked jurisdiction because a summons or warrant for revocation was not issued to the defendant before the defendant’s term of supervised release had expired. Upon the Probation Office’s report, the district court had issued an order setting a “status hearing” with two months left in the defendant’s term of supervised release, and the defendant was taken into custody at this hearing pending final resolution of his revocation proceedings. Crucially, however, the defendant was never actually served with a summons at that hearing.

The Court rejected the Government’s argument that the defendant’s supervised release term was tolled once he was detained with two months left in the term, citing 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), which provides that defendants can serve part of their supervised release in custody based on revocations. Their time in custody does not toll the term of supervised release.

The Court also held that there was no “warrant” or “summons” as required by § 3583(i), the provision which allows a court to impose a “delayed revocation” after the term of supervised release has expired as long as a warrant or summons has been issued for revocation before the term has expired. Here, the district court’s minute orders detaining the defendant and notifying him of a future revocation hearing did not meet the warrant/summons requirement, as these orders “never directed Block to appear—they merely announced the hearings would take place.” A formal summons or warrant, even if pro forma in most cases, must be served in order to extend a district court’s jurisdiction beyond a defendant’s term of supervised release.

Appeal from the Northern District of Illinois

Opinion by Manion, joined by Bauer and Rovner

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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