United States v. Miller, No. 19-2156 (10th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Defendant-Appellant Eldon Miller challenged his sentence entered upon a guilty plea to one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The charges arose out of Miller’s operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, leading to an accident that caused serious and permanent injuries to his sole passenger. The district court imposed a within-Guidelines sentence of 36 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Miller challenged his sentence on two grounds: (1) the sentence was substantively unreasonable because the district court unreasonably discounted, inter alia, the relationship between his disease of alcoholism and his criminal record, the detrimental effect that a lengthy prison term would have on his rehabilitation, and various mitigating facts related to his background; and (2) the district court’s impermissibly imposed a special condition of supervised release authorizing his probation officer to determine the number of drug tests to which he must submit during his term of supervised release. As to the latter objection, Miller contended the district court’s imposition of this condition unconstitutionally delegated judicial authority in contravention of Article III; and the district court erred in failing to make findings on the record supporting imposition of the challenged condition. The Tenth Circuit affirmed, finding Miller fell "far short" of rebutting the presumption of substantive reasonableness of the within-Guidelines sentence. With regard to the special condition, the Court rejected Miller's argument that the district court impermissibly delegated to probation judicial authority, and found he failed establish that any of the asserted errors constituted plain error.