Media for Dorszynski v. United StatesAudio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 26, 1974 in Dorszynski v. United States
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 20, 1974 in Dorszynski v. United States
Warren E. Burger:
-- you may proceed whenever you are ready.
Robert H. Friebert:
Mr. Chief Justice and If it please the Court.
My name Robert Friebert and I represent the petitioner Douglas Raymond Dorszynski.
The respondent is United States of America.
This case involves a petition for certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and this case originally arose out of an appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Honorable Myron L. Gordon presiding.
The issue involves an interpretation of the Federal Youth Corrections Act and in particular, the issue involves the procedural requirements which must be met before a youth offender can be sentenced as an adult.
The Act and the particular point in question states as follows and this is Title 18 5010 (d).
“If the court shall find that the youth offender will not derive benefit from treatment under the “Act” then the court may sentence the youth offender under any other applicable penalty provision.”
Synthesized further then, the issue before the Court here is whether a sentencing court, sentencing a youth offender who is a defendant under the age of 22 must articulate its findings of no benefit on the record and further whether the sentencing court must support that finding with reasons.
The facts are as follows.
Petitioner Douglas Dorszynski was convicted of possession of LSD in violation of 21 U.S.(c). 844 (a) at a time when he was 19 years old.
He was no longer juvenile, but he was subject to the provisions of the Federal Youth Corrections Act.
The particular charge involved was a misdemeanor, subjecting him to a maximum penalty were he simply an adult to one year in jail or a prison.
The petitioner pled guilty.
The trial court sentenced the petitioner to a split sentence of 90 days in jail to be followed by a probationary period outside of jail for two years.
At the time of his arraignment and his plea of guilty, he was not told that he could be sentenced under the Federal Youth Corrections Act for period of control or in essence of about six years with four years in prison.
At the sentencing proceeding, the trial court never mentioned the Federal Youth Corrections Act when it imposed its sentence as an adult.
Post trial motions were filed which challenged the adult’s sentence and challenged it in particular on the grounds that the trial court had made no findings on his reasons why he rejected a sentence under the Federal Youth Corrections Act.
At the time of the post trial motions, the sentencing court stated that the Act was not applicable and he further stated that he, when he sentenced the youth offender as an adult that there was implied finding on his behalf and he said no more.
The Court of Appeals agreed that the Trial Judge did not have to explain his reasons in any way as to why he did not sentence under the Federal Youth Corrections Act, or why he made a finding of no benefit under the Act and affirmed this aspect of the case.
Warren E. Burger:
I have the impression that somewhere in the record, the United States Attorney had referred to the youth -- the Act was at the arraignment?
Robert H. Friebert:
Yes, the Act was referred to twice at the arraignment.
It was under the provisions of the code.
The defendant stated that he was going to plead guilty and the pre-sentence investigation was done before he came into courts so the proceedings at the arraignment was also a sentencing proceeding with benefit of a pre-sentence report.
The United States Attorney in court stated that the defendant was a youth offender and subject to the Youth Offender’s Act, but he did not state that the Youth Offender’s Act subjected the petitioner to potential four years incarceration.
This was followed by the same Assistant United States Attorney stating that the penalty maximum was one year which was an incorrect statement of the law under the circumstances because the maximum penalty was six years in actuality.
Then the judge made that statement and further emphasized the one year maximum to the petitioner.
After the plea of guilty was entered, the court recessed to consider the pre-sentence investigation report which had been previously prepared.
Upon reconvening, the Federal Youth Corrections Act was mentioned the second time, and that was by the petitioner’s counsel at that time who asked that probation be given to the petitioner and that this probation be under the Federal Youth Corrections Act.
The trial court then imposed the split sentence of 90 days in custody to be followed by two years probation without in any way commenting upon the Federal Youth Corrections Act.