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Joe L. Wills v. United States Parole Commission and Court Services and Offender

July 31, 2012

JOE L. WILLS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION AND COURT SERVICES AND OFFENDER
SUPERVISION AGENCY FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Beryl A. Howell

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Joe Wills has never been convicted of a sex offense. Yet, after serving time in prison following a conviction for two misdemeanor drug offenses, he was informed that the United States Parole Commission ("Parole Commission") had imposed a "Special Sex Offender Aftercare Condition" ("SOA") on his supervised release. The SOA, which he was given no opportunity to appeal, required him to participate in mental health treatment, with a focus on long-term sex offender testing and treatment. A requirement of the SOA was that the plaintiff was "expected to acknowledge [his] need for treatment." Compl. ¶ 37. While undergoing sex offender treatment as part of his supervised release, the plaintiff was convicted of drug possession and served additional time in prison. Following his release from prison, the Parole Commission re-imposed the SOA at the request of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia ("CSOSA"). The plaintiff then brought suit against the Parole Commission and CSOSA (collectively, "the defendants") alleging violations of the "reasonably related" standards for supervised release conditions set forth in D.C. Code § 24-403.01(b)(6) and 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d) as well as the plaintiff's Fifth Amendment right to substantive and procedural due process and his First Amendment right to refrain from speaking. The plaintiff also sought preliminarily and permanently to enjoin enforcement of the SOA, which he argues is "not only unnecessary to [his] rehabilitation, but is actively impeding it." Compl. ¶ 10.

Shortly after the plaintiff filed his Complaint, the Parole Commission withdrew the SOA from the plaintiff's supervised release. The plaintiff then moved for partial summary judgment on his claim that the Parole Commission violated his Fifth Amendment right to procedural due process by imposing the SOA without providing the plaintiff adequate process. The defendants subsequently moved to dismiss this action for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the case is now moot following the withdrawal of the SOA. For the reasons explained below, the Court denies the defendants' Motion to Dismiss and grants the plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.

I.FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Supervised Release in the District of Columbia

Individuals, like the plaintiff, who are subject to supervised release in the District of Columbia are "subject to the authority of the United States Parole Commission until completion of the term of supervised release." D.C. CODE § 24-403.01(b)(6). The Parole Commission has "the same authority" over the District of Columbia's supervised releasees "as is vested in the United States District Courts by 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)-(i)." Id.

The Parole Commission may impose special conditions on a period of supervised release, so long as those conditions meet four requirements: "(1) the conditions must be 'reasonably related' to the nature and circumstances of the supervisee's instant offense; (2) they must be 'reasonably related' to the supervisee's history and characteristics; (3) they must be 'reasonably related' to the sentencing goals of deterrence, protection of the public, and rehabilitation; and (4) they must 'involve[ ] no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary' to achieve those same sentencing goals." Compl. ¶ 25 (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)).

CSOSA is responsible for "supervis[ing] any offender who is released from imprisonment for any term of supervised release imposed by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia." D.C. CODE § 24-133(c)(2).

B. Special Conditions Imposed on the Plaintiff's Supervised Release

The plaintiff is an indigent and unemployed resident of the District of Columbia serving a 52-month period of supervised release, set to expire on or about April 1, 2015. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 9, 19.

The plaintiff, who has no home of his own and depends on his mother and brother for support, has never been convicted of a sex offense. In 1984, 28 years ago, when the plaintiff was 26 years of age, he was accused, but not convicted, of sexual misconduct when he was charged in the D.C. Superior Court with assault with intent to rape. In that case, the plaintiff entered a guilty plea to two misdemeanor offenses: attempted second degree burglary and theft of property of a value less than $250. Id. ¶ 28. The government, in turn, dismissed the greater counts of second degree burglary and felony theft, and dismissed entirely the count for assault with intent to rape. Id. The plaintiff claims that, since 1984, he "has never again been accused of any charge that even hinted at sexual misconduct or sexual deviance." Id. ¶ 30.

Over 20 years after the government dropped the assault with intent to rape charge, on November 29, 2007, the plaintiff pled guilty in D.C. Superior Court to two misdemeanor counts: one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Id. ¶ 32. The misdemeanor offenses in no way related to sexual misconduct. For those drug offenses, the plaintiff was sentenced to 14 months of incarceration followed by 5 years of supervised release. Id. As noted, this lawsuit relates to a condition imposed on the plaintiff's supervised release, namely the SOA.

1. Notice of the SOA Imposed on Supervised Release

On January 30, 2009, the day he was released from the halfway house, the plaintiff was informed in writing that the Parole Commission was imposing a SOA as a condition of his supervised release. Id. ¶¶ 36, 38. Although the notice informed the plaintiff of the SOA, he was unable to read the notice at the time due to his illiteracy. Id. ¶ 38. While the Parole Commission provided the plaintiff written notice of the SOA, CSOSA was also apparently still not aware of the condition. Upon his release from the halfway house, CSOSA placed the plaintiff into a "General Supervision Unit" rather than the "Sex Offender Unit," which is for individuals subject to the SOA. Id. ¶ 36.

In February of 2009, CSOSA transferred the plaintiff to its Sex Offender Unit for his supervised release supervision. Id. ¶ 40. This transfer allegedly came as a surprise to the plaintiff, who had not been able to read the notice given to him on January 30, 2009. Id. ¶ 41 (quoting Ex. 7) ("Mr. Wills is confronted with his NOA dated 1/6/09 and the special conditions added. He was unaware of any other than drug aftercare."). The plaintiff had not received an earlier Notice of Action ("NOA") issued by the Parole Commission informing him of the SOA.*fn1

attempted to inform the plaintiff of the imposition of the SOA prior to January 30, 2009 Less than a month before the plaintiff was to begin supervised release, on January 6, 2009, the Parole Commission issued a NOA stating that, upon release from incarceration later that month, the plaintiff would be subject to the "Special Sex Offender Aftercare Condition." Compl. ¶ 37. The NOA explained that:

Instead, the plaintiff had only received notices from CSOSA about supervised release conditions, and those notices did not inform him about the SOA.*fn2

For at least a month after the Parole Commission imposed the SOA on the plaintiff, neither the Parole Commission nor CSOSA were able to articulate a justification for the imposition of the SOA. For example, a recorded entry by the plaintiff's CSOSA supervisor officer in February 2009 stated that:

[Parole Commission] [c]ase analyst Corey Mitchell returns this officer's telephone call concerning the [Parole Commission NOA] dated 1/6/09. He confirms that they too have the same conditions ordered but have no reasons listed just as this officer has no reasoning on the form.

Compl. ¶ 39 (quoting Ex. 5). In February 2009, the plaintiff's supervising officer informed the plaintiff for the first time of the possible basis for the special condition: the 1984 charge against him of assault with intent to rape, which had been dismissed in 1986. Id. ¶¶ 27-28; id. ¶ 42 (quoting Ex. 7) ("Offender is informed that [the condition] may have been added due to past 'assault with intent to rape' charge that was dismissed. Mr. Wills is told that further contact will be made to [the Parole Commission] to confirm these special conditions but that Mr. Mitchell from [the Parole Commission] confirmed that they were in fact there.").

Defs.' Mem. in Supp. of the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnes to Hope Village, the halfway house ("Defs.' Mem."), ECF No. 14, at 3; Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Defs.' Opp'n"), ECF No. 17, at 31. Thus, the plaintiff did not learn of the SOA until he was already subject to the condition.

2. Requirements of the SOA Imposed on the Plaintiff

The plaintiff alleges that, soon after his transition to supervised release and subsequent transfer to the Sex Offender Unit, CSOSA "began to enforce" the SOA. Compl. ¶ 45.

On March 9, 2009, the plaintiff's supervising officer required the plaintiff to disclose the "nature of [his] sexual offense" to his then-girlfriend, with whom he was residing at the time. Id.

¶ 43 (quoting Ex. 8). In May 2009, the supervising officer met the plaintiff's girlfriend in person to confirm that the plaintiff had complied with this directive. Id. ¶ 44. The plaintiff alleges that this "compelled disclosure of inaccurate information caused a significant strain in Mr. Wills' relationship with his girlfriend" and that he is no longer in a relationship with this woman. Id.; Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Mem."), ECF No. 12, at 6.

CSOSA also scheduled the plaintiff for an "assessment package," consisting of six sessions with a treatment provider at the Center for Clinical and Forensic Services ("CCFS"), as well as two polygraph examinations. Compl. ¶ 46. The plaintiff was also expected to undergo twelve additional sex offender treatment sessions with CCFS, which were intended to provide the basis for the plaintiff's "clinical diagnosis" and "comprehensive treatment plan." Id. ¶¶ 46-47.

During the initial session with a treatment provider on September 14, 2009, the plaintiff, who was forced to waive his right to therapist-patient confidentiality as part of the SOA, was subject to a "psychosexual assessment," which consisted of a series of questions about his sexual history, desires, and practices. Id. ¶ 48.*fn3 Following this psychosexual assessment, on October , the plaintiff was asked, inter alia:

27, 2009, after again waiving confidentiality, the plaintiff was forced to undergo a polygraph examination regarding his answers to the questions posed in the psychosexual assessment. Id. ¶ 49.*fn4

The plaintiff thereafter attended numerous sex offender treatment sessions. Id. ΒΆ 51. According to the plaintiff, the treatment providers "repeatedly pressured him" during those sessions to acknowledge his need for the sex ...


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