Facts of the Case
Respondent Andre Haymond was convicted of possessing child pornography, a crime that carries a prison term of zero to 10 years. After serving a prison sentence of 38 months, and while on supervised release, Mr. Haymond was again found with what appeared to be child pornography. The government sought to revoke his supervised release and secure a new and additional prison sentence. A district judge, acting without a jury, found by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Haymond knowingly downloaded and possessed child pornography. Under
Does 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) violate the Fifth and Sixth Amendments by imposing a mandatory minimum punishment on a criminal defendant upon a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant engaged in certain criminal conduct during supervised release?
In a 5-4 decision, the Court vacated the judgment of the Tenth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered an opinion for a four-justice plurality of the Court, in which he concluded that the application of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) in this case violated Haymond’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a separate opinion concurring in the judgment but based on different reasoning.Justice Gorsuch reasoned that at the time the Fifth and Sixth Amendments were adopted, judges’ power to sentence criminal defendants was limited by the jury’s finding of facts. In Apprendi v. New Jersey , 530 U.S. 466 (2000) , the Court held unconstitutional a sentencing scheme that allowed a judge to increase a defendant’s sentence beyond the statutory maximum based on the judge’s finding of new facts by a preponderance of the evidence. And in Alleyne v. United States , 570 U.S. 99 (2013) , the Court held that the same principle applies when a judge finds additional facts to increase the mandatory minimum. Those two cases mandate the outcome in this case: that the statutory scheme violated Haymond’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment right to trial by jury. Justice Gorsuch suggested that on remand, the Tenth Circuit consider whether its remedy—declaring the last two sentences of §3583(k) “unconstitutional and unenforceable”—sweeps too broadly.Justice Breyer concurred in the judgment, characterizing the provision at issue as “less like ordinary supervised-release revocation and more like punishment for a new offense,” which requires that jury—not judge—find facts of criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, Justice Breyer would reach the same conclusion without relying on Apprendi .Justice Samuel Alito filed a dissenting opinion, in which Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh joined. Justice Alito argued that the terms of the Sixth Amendment and the original understanding of the scope of the jury trial, coupled with the Court’s precedents with respect to supervised-release revocation proceedings, militate toward the opposite conclusion of the plurality.
- Citation: 588 US _ (2019)
- Granted: Oct 26, 2018
- Argued: Feb 26, 2019
- Decided Jun 26, 2019