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United States v. Charles D.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 7, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Charles D. St. Clair, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued April 24, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. No. l:15-CR-25-TLS-SLC-l - Theresa L. Springmann, Chief Judge.

          Before Kanne, Hamilton, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.


         Defendant-appellant Charles D. St. Clair admitted that he violated several conditions of his supervised release. The district court revoked his release and sentenced him to another term of imprisonment, followed by an additional term of supervised release. St. Clair appeals the conditions for the new term of supervised release. He argues first that the district court failed to justify the twelve discretionary conditions it ordered. He also argues that the court violated his due process rights by imposing a vague condition based on a superseded version of the Sentencing Guidelines.

         We affirm. St. Clair waived his right to challenge his supervised release conditions at his revocation hearing when he (1) acknowledged that he received prior notice of the proposed conditions and discussed them with counsel, and then (2) told the judge that he had no objections to or questions about them when asked.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         In September 2016, St. Clair pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Before his sentencing, the district court notified St. Clair in writing that it proposed to impose six mandatory and fourteen discretionary conditions of supervised release. The court later sentenced St. Clair to thirty-three months in prison and a year of supervised release, including all twenty proposed conditions. St. Clair did not appeal.

         St. Clair began his original term of supervised release in August 2017. Within the first month, he started violating the conditions of his release. By December, the government had moved to revoke St. Clair's release, citing sixteen violations of release conditions by using marijuana, failing to submit to drug tests, and not reporting to probation. A probation officer prepared a written "summary report of violations" recommending that the court sentence St. Clair to imprisonment followed by supervised release and that the court also impose seventeen of the twenty conditions from St. Clair's original term of supervision.

         At a revocation hearing in April 2018, St. Clair admitted to the sixteen violations. Critical to our decision, when the judge asked about the proposed conditions of supervised release, defense counsel confirmed that he had reviewed the conditions with St. Clair and explained them to him, and St. Clair said that he had no objections to or questions about them. St. Clair also waived a formal reading of the conditions and acknowledged that the court might later incorporate them by reference. The court then revoked St. Clair's supervised release and sentenced him to another year in prison, followed by another year-long term of supervision. With no objection from St. Clair, the court included the seventeen proposed supervised release conditions in the revocation sentence.

         II. Analysis

         St. Clair challenges the discretionary conditions of supervised release, which he says the court never justified. He also contests one of the conditions-forbidding him from "physically, voluntarily, and intentionally be[ing] present at a place that he knows or has reason to know ... controlled substances are illegally sold, used, manufactured, distributed, or administered." He argues the condition-especially its use of the term "place"-is impermissibly vague and based on inaccurate information because the court cited an outdated version of the Sentencing Guidelines. (The United States Sentencing Commission removed a version of this standard but discretionary condition from U.S.S.G. § 5D1.3(c) beginning in November 2016, after St. Clair's original sentencing but well before his April 2018 revocation hearing.)

         The government argues that St. Clair has waived these arguments by opting not to present them to the district court. We agree with the government's waiver argument. St. Clair expressly acknowledged at the revocation hearing that he had reviewed the conditions with his lawyer and that he did not object to any of them. That is quintessential waiver for supervised release conditions, as it is for other matters, such as jury instructions. See United States v. Gabriel, 831 F.3d 811, 814 (7th Cir. 2016) (defendant waived objections to supervised release conditions where, after receiving advance notice of proposed conditions, defense said it had no objections to conditions); United States v. Block, 825 F.3d 862, 873-74 (7th Cir. 2016) (same, except for one express objection); United States v. Lewis, 823 F.3d 1075, 1082-23 (7th Cir. 2016) (same).[1]

         "The sentencing in the district court is the main event." Lewis, 823 F.3d at 1083. A defendant who receives advance notice of proposed conditions of supervised release has both the benefit of advice of counsel and a full opportunity to raise objections about arguably vague or unjustified conditions of supervised release. Sentencing in the district court is the time to raise such issues, not on appeal, for the first time. And with conditions of supervised release, both the defendant and the ...

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