ILNews

Judges vacate 2 conditions of supervised release

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Because two special conditions imposed on a man convicted of attempted extortion do not bear a reasonably direct relationship to his underlying crimes, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated those conditions.

Walbert Keith Farmer attempted to extort money from Walter Allen, an employee at Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth. Farmer learned that Allen had used a company credit card without authorization and threatened Allen over the phone to tell the casino about his actions unless Allen paid him off.

The police busted up Farmer’s scheme, and he pleaded guilty to two counts for attempting to extort Allen and using interstate communications in the execution of his plot. The presentence report prepared did not disclose to the parties any information about the conditions of supervised release that the probation service intended to recommend to the District Court.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt imposed those special conditions, which included that Farmer submit to the search of his person, vehicle, office, residence and property at the request of his probation officer, even without a warrant or reasonable suspicion; and a ban on self-employment.

In United States of America v. Walbert Keith Farmer, 13-3373, the 7th Circuit judges noted their concern that the parties weren’t privy to the conditions of the supervised release suggested by the probation officer prior to the hearing. The sentencing recommendation, which contained some of the conditions, was designated as confidential under a local rule. By keeping this information confidential, it does not allow a defendant to properly challenge the recommendation at the sentencing hearing.

“We recommend that sentencing judges follow the best practices outlined in Siegel when imposing conditions of supervised release, particularly the suggestion that judges “[r]equire the probation service to communicate its recommendations for conditions of supervised release to defense counsel at least two weeks before the sentencing hearing,” Judge John Tinder wrote.

The judges were “at a loss” as to how the broad search and seizure authority is connected to Farmer’s current offense or criminal history. And they found that the judge’s explanation for imposing the ban on self-employment did not provide the necessary nexus between Farmer’s underlying crime of attempted extortion and the self-employment ban.

They vacated these two conditions of supervised release and remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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