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Hunt v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

December 31, 2014

JEFFREY H. HUNT, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE

Argued: April 22, 2014.

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CMD-20889-12). (Hon. Patricia A. Broderick, Trial Judge).

Farin Mirvahabi for appellant.

Lauren R. Bates, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman and John P. Mannarino, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before BECKWITH and EASTERLY, Associate Judges, and STEADMAN, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 621

Beckwith, Associate Judge:

On December 2, 2012, Appellant Jeffrey Hunt cut off a global positioning system (GPS) monitoring device that he was required to wear by his Community Supervision Officer (CSO) of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency. He was convicted after a bench trial of violating D.C. Code § 22-1211 (a)(1)(A) (2012 Repl.),[1] which makes it a misdemeanor for a person to " intentionally remove" a GPS device that he or she is " required to wear . . . as a condition of . . . parole." On appeal, Mr. Hunt challenges the sufficiency of the government's evidence, contending that the government failed to show that he was required to wear the GPS device as a " condition" of his parole. We agree, and we reverse.

I. Legal Framework

In 1997, as part of legislation transferring the District of Columbia prison system to federal control, Congress transferred the " jurisdiction and authority" of the Board of Parole of the District of Columbia to the United States Parole Commission (USPC) and authorized USPC to " impose conditions upon an order of parole." D.C. Code § 24-131 (a)(1). USPC has " sole authority . . . to establish the conditions of release, for all District of Columbia Code prisoners who are serving sentences for felony offenses, and who are eligible for parole by statute." 28 C.F.R. § 2.70 (b) (2014). For misdemeanor offenses, conditions of release are imposed by the Superior Court. D.C. Code § 24-131 (a)(3).

Congress also created the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) to " carry out the conditions of release imposed by the United States Parole Commission or, with respect to a misdemeanant, by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia." D.C. Code § 24-133 (c)(4). More specifically, CSOSA " provide[s] supervision, through qualified supervision officers, for offenders on probation, parole, and supervised release pursuant to the District of Columbia Official Code." D.C. Code § 24-133 (c)(1). No statute or regulation provides CSOSA with the authority to impose conditions of release.

One way in which CSOSA supervises releasees is by issuing " intermediate sanctions" to encourage compliance with release conditions. D.C. Code § 24-133 (b)(2)(F). CSOSA's regulations explain to supervisees how the sanctions operate:

If your CSO has reason to believe that you are failing to abide by the general or specific conditions of release or you are engaging in criminal activity, you will be in violation of the conditions of your supervision. Your CSO may then impose ...

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