United States v. Neuhauser, No. 13-6186 (4th Cir. 2014)

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Justia Opinion Summary

Defendant appealed the district court's denial of his motion to terminate the terms of his supervised release that had been imposed in conjunction with his term of imprisonment. The court held that defendant's term of supervised release did not commence while he remained in federal custody pending the resolution of his status under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, 18 U.S.C. 4248. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.

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PUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 13-6186 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff Appellee, v. JEFFREY CISSEL NEUHAUSER, Defendant - Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Greenbelt. Alexander Williams, Jr., District Judge. (8:99-cr-00189-AW-1) Argued: January 29, 2014 Decided: March 11, 2014 Before MOTZ, KING, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by published opinion. Judge Motz wrote the opinion, in which Judge King and Judge Diaz joined. ARGUED: Susan Amelia Hensler, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant. Kristi Noel O'Malley, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: James Wyda, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant. Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee. DIANA GRIBBON MOTZ, Circuit Judge: Shortly before his term of imprisonment on child sex offenses ended, Jeffrey Neuhauser received notification that the Government had certified him as a sexually dangerous person under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4248. The certification stayed his release from prison, where he remained confined in civil detention pending the resolution of his status. The district court ultimately concluded that the Government had not proven Neuhauser to be a sexually dangerous person and so ordered his release from prison. Neuhauser then moved to terminate the term of supervised release that had been imposed in conjunction with his term of imprisonment. He asserted that his term of supervised release began when his term of imprisonment ended, and thus, his supervised throughout the time he spent in civil detention. court denied supervised the confinement. release motion, did holding not begin that until release The district Neuhauser s he ran was term freed of from For the reasons that follow, we affirm. I. In September 1999, Neuhauser pled guilty to one count of interstate travel with intent to engage in sex with a minor and one count of distribution of child pornography. § 2423(b) and 2252(a)(1). See 18 U.S.C. The court sentenced him to 109 months 2 imprisonment and an additional five years of supervised release. The Bureau of Prisons ( BOP ) set a release date of June 6, 2007, and Neuhauser served his time two weeks in prison without significant incident. On May 22, 2007, just scheduled release date, the sexually dangerous person Government under the before Neuhauser s certified Adam Walsh him as Act. a The certification triggered a stay of Neuhauser s discharge until a federal district court could determine met the See 18 U.S.C. § 4248(a). criteria for civil commitment. whether he On June 6, 2007 -- Neuhauser s original release date -- the BOP processed him for Adam Walsh Act review and transferred him to a different housing unit within the same federal prison. remained there for the next four-and-a-half years He while constitutional challenges to the Adam Walsh Act were resolved. 1 1 See Order, United States v. Neuhauser, No. 5:07-HC-2101-BR (E.D.N.C. Jan. 8, 2008) (holding proceedings in abeyance while appellate courts addressed constitutionality of Adam Walsh Act); Order, id. (June 11, 2010) (lifting stay based on Supreme Court s ruling in United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126 (2010)); see also Comstock, 560 U.S. at 130 (upholding the constitutionality of the Adam Walsh Act under Article I); United States v. Timms, 664 F.3d 436, 449 (4th Cir. 2012) (upholding the constitutionality of the Adam Walsh Act under the Equal Protection Clause); United States v. Comstock, 627 F.3d 513, 524 25 (4th Cir. 2010) ( Comstock II ) (upholding the constitutionality of the Adam Walsh Act under the Due Process Clause). We note that Neuhauser does not pose any constitutional challenge to his period of civil detention. 3 On January district 19, court commitment. 2012, refused The after to court an evidentiary certify reasoned hearing, Neuhauser that for although the civil Neuhauser evidenced an interest in adolescent boys, the Government did not demonstrate that his condition qualified as a mental illness justifying civil commitment. United States v. Neuhauser, No. 5:07-HC-2101-BO, 2012 WL 174363, at *2 (E.D.N.C. Jan. 20, 2012) (explaining that a pedophilia diagnosis requires the exhibition of an interest in preadolescent boys). On February 3, 2012, the BOP released Neuhauser, and he returned to his Maryland home. Five months later, on June 6, 2012, terminate his term of supervised release. Neuhauser moved to He argued that his term of supervised release began on the date that his prison sentence ended: was no longer sanction, but June 6, 2007. serving rather time he in remained operation of a civil statute. detention, unlike imprisonment. After that date, he noted, he criminal prison in pursuant prison to pursuant criminal to the Neuhauser maintained that civil confinement, does not constitute Because federal law specifies that supervision begins on the date of a person s release[] from imprisonment, he contended that his term of supervised release began when his confinement for Adam Walsh Act review began. § 3624(e) (emphasis added). 4 See 18 U.S.C. The district court disagreed. It credited Neuhauser s argument that a person s term of supervised release begins at the end of his imprisonment. The court reasoned, however, that release from imprisonment occurs only when a person is freed from confinement. until the Because resolution of the Government his confined civil-commitment Neuhauser hearing, the district court determined that his supervised release commenced only after that date, i.e., in February 2012, not in June 2007. Neuhauser noted a timely appeal. 2 II. The sole dispute in this case concerns the date on which Neuhauser s supervised release began. Neuhauser contends that his supervised release began on June 6, 2007, the date on which his prison sentence ended. The Government maintains that Neuhauser s release began on February 3, 2012, the date on which 2 Although not directly at issue here, our holding affects the propriety of the district court s July 2013 order sentencing Neuhauser to a second term of imprisonment and supervised release. The district court found that Neuhauser had violated the conditions of his original term of supervised release in March 2013. See Judgment, United States v. Neuhauser, No. 8:99cr-00189-AW-1 (D. Md. July 10, 2013). The court based this second sentence on its finding that Neuhauser was under supervision at the time of the March 2013 incident. If we held that Neuhauser s original term of supervised release commenced in June 2007, not in February 2012, however, his original term of supervised release would have expired before the March 2013 incident, and thus, Neuhauser s infraction could not form the basis of the second sentence. 5 his actual confinement ended. The parties question of law, which we consider de novo. thus dispute a Holland v. Pardee Coal Co., 269 F.3d 424, 430 (4th Cir. 2001). A. This question requires us to determine whether the time a person spends in prison awaiting the resolution of his status pursuant to the Adam Walsh Act affects the date on which his supervised release begins, as determined by 18 U.S.C. § 3624. Under § 3624, a defendant s term of supervised release commences on the day the person is released from imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e). Ordinarily, the BOP releases a prisoner from confinement upon the expiration of his criminal sentence. See id. § 3624(a). But under certain conditions, a defendant s release from confinement will be stayed for some time beyond that date. In particular, under § 4248(a) of the Adam Walsh Act, the Government s certification of a prisoner as a sexually dangerous person . . . stay[s] [his] outcome of a civil-commitment proceeding. release pending the 18 U.S.C. § 4248(a). A prisoner so confined remains in BOP custody until a district court determines whether he satisfies the requirements for civil commitment. There Id. is no dispute that Neuhauser remained confined pursuant to § 4248 beyond the expiration of his prison sentence. The question is whether his confinement beyond his scheduled 6 release date qualifies as imprisonment under § 3624. Neuhauser stresses that from June 2007 onward, he was held in civil detention pending the outcome of a hearing. This was not imprisonment, he argues, because the term imprisonment refers only to incarceration imposed as a punishment for a crime. In view of the fact that § 4248 is not punitive in nature, see Timms, 664 F.3d at 456, he maintains that his Adam Walsh Act confinement lacked the requisite indicia of punishment to count as imprisonment under § 3624. Like any issue of statutory interpretation, we begin our analysis with the statute s plain text. 624 F.3d 670, 675 (4th Cir. 2010). Broughman v. Carter, The ordinary meaning of imprisonment evinces no necessary link to criminal punishment. On the contrary, to imprison someone is simply to put [a person] in prison. Webster s New Collegiate Dictionary 572 (1979). Chasanow As Judge has recently noted, numerous dictionaries confirm that the term imprisonment focuses on the nature imposition. of . . . confinement, not the reason for its Tobey v. United States, 794 F. Supp. 2d 594, 598 (D. Md. 2011) (quoting Black s Law Dictionary (2009) (defining imprisonment as the state of being confined; a period of confinement ); Oxford English Dictionary (2d ed. 1989) (defining imprisonment as detention in a prison confinement; close or irksome confinement )). 7 or place of Indeed, in other legal contexts, the term imprisonment describes something other than a defendant s service of a criminal sentence. U.S.C. § 3041 (permitting imprisonment before trial). 3 See 18 Thus, we find no support for Neuhauser s argument in the text of § 3624. Nor does the structure of the statute assist Neuhauser. Section 3624 release: contains two provisions regulating supervised a provision regulating when supervised release begins and another regulating when supervised release is tolled. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e). According 3 to the statute, a term See of Neuhauser notes that persons detained under civilcommitment statutes are not prisoners for the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ( PLRA ). See Michau v. Charleston Cnty., 434 F.3d 725, 727 (4th Cir. 2006). The PLRA, however, provides no analogy helpful to Neuhauser. For the PLRA applies only to persons incarcerated or detained in a federal facility who [are] accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for, violations of criminal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(c) (emphasis added). The supervised-release statute, by contrast, applies to all imprisoned persons. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e). The lack of limiting qualification in § 3624 indicates that it has a much broader scope than the PLRA, and thus, cases like Michau are not relevant here. Neuhauser s reliance on 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b) fails for a similar reason. That statute provides for a reduction in a person s term of imprisonment if the person has spent time in prison prior to the date [of his] sentence as a result of, inter alia, the offense for which the sentence was imposed. Id. Neuhauser finds it notable that this credit does not obtain for periods spent in civil detention. It is unclear why this is notable or what bearing § 3585(b) has on the case at hand, given that both parties agree that Neuhauser remained confined past his term of imprisonment. Perhaps Neuhauser intends to suggest that § 3585(b) states a universal definition of imprisonment, which excludes confinement in civil detention, but nothing in the text of § 3585(b) - or any other statute - indicates that this is the case. 8 release begins when a person is released from imprisonment, while a term of release is tolled when a person is imprisoned in connection with a conviction. distinction between Id. (emphasis added). imprisonment, on the one The hand, and imprisonment in connection with a conviction, on the other, belies Neuhauser s suggestion that imprisonment must involve a conviction. If Neuhauser were correct, and imprisonment necessarily related to punishment, there would be no need for Congress to qualify the term imprisonment in the statute s tolling provision. would always inclusion of be Under Neuhauser s definition, imprisonment in that connection phrase entirely unnecessary. in the with a conviction, tolling provision and the would be To avoid an interpretation of the statute that would render [its] terms meaningless or superfluous, the word imprisonment must mean something broader than detention in connection with a conviction. See Scott v. United States, 328 F.3d 132, 139 (4th Cir. 2003). Finally, imprisonment we note comports that with only the a broad purpose of definition § 3624. As of we explained in United States v. Buchanan, 638 F.3d 448, 451 (4th Cir. 2011), [t]he congressional policy in providing for a term of supervised release after incarceration is to improve the odds of a successful transition from the prison to liberty. See also id. ( Supervised release . . . is a unique method of post9 confinement supervision that fulfills rehabilitative ends distinct from those served by incarceration. (quotation marks and citations omitted)). It is hard to imagine the way in which supervision would aid in a person s transition if he could serve his entire term of supervised release before leaving prison. B. Our analysis accords with that of the Supreme United States v. Johnson, 529 U.S. 53 (2000). Court in There, the Court determined the date on which a defendant s supervised release commenced in a case in which later appellate precedent required modification of his prison term. Id. at 54. Johnson originally received a sentence of nine years imprisonment plus a term of supervised release; the change in the law led to a modified sentence of four years imprisonment plus a term of supervised release. spent six sentence. Id. at years Id. 54 55. in Unfortunately, prison at 55. before Johnson receiving had the already modified Having served too much prison time, Johnson argued that his improper imprisonment should be credited toward his term of supervised release. Id. at 54 55. He contended that his term of supervised release began on the date that his lawful imprisonment ended, not the date on which the BOP ultimately released him. Id. at 55 56. The Supreme Court rejected the argument. The Court noted that under § 3624, a defendant s supervised release does not 10 commence until imprisonment. [the] Id. individual at 57. That is released phrase, it from explained, contemplates a defendant s freed[om] from confinement. Id. For this reason, [s]upervised release does not run while an individual remains in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. Id. After all, the Court explained, [s]upervised release has no statutory function until confinement ends. Id. at 59. The Government maintains that the Supreme Court s holding in Johnson is dispositive here. Neuhauser argues that the case because is Neuhauser, clearly distinguishable conceded the fact of his Johnson, unlike imprisonment. This difference, he argues, requires us to apply a fundamentally different analysis than that employed by the Supreme Court in Johnson, which he claims leads to a fundamentally different result. Neuhauser is correct that Johnson does not strictly control this case. While Johnson freely admitted that he had been imprisoned, albeit wrongly, for the entire six years of his detention, Neuhauser makes no similar admission. Instead, Neuhauser maintains that he was not imprisoned during the last four years of his confinement. Accordingly, Neuhauser presents an argument that Johnson did not make on appeal, i.e., that detention pursuant to a civil statute imprisonment in any sense of the term. 11 does not constitute But this new argument does not warrant a fundamentally different analysis. Rather, Johnson is instructive here in two important respects. First, Johnson reiterates the commonsense meaning of imprisonment as confinement. See Johnson, 529 U.S. at 57 (explaining that to be released from imprisonment, one must be freed from confinement ). That the Supreme Court applied this definition so readily to another supervised-release case underscores its relevance here. Second, Johnson emphasizes the importance of construing § 3624 in light of its purpose. As the Johnson Court recognized, supervised release contributes to a defendant s rehabilitation and transition to community life. See id. at 59. These objectives would be ill served were a defendant to begin his release while living in prison. Johnson release thus commences lends on support the date to the view that that a person is supervised freed from confinement, irrespective of whether that confinement resulted from a criminal or civil statute. holdings from other courts that This view also accords with have recently held that supervised release does not begin until a § 4248 detainee is released from confinement. United States v. Mosby, 719 F.3d 925, 930 (8th Cir. 2013) (holding as a matter of law that § 4248 detainee s supervised release commences on the day he was freed from confinement ), cert. denied, 134 S. Ct. 905 (2014); Tobey, 794 F. Supp. 2d at 602 (same). 12 We 1117, recognize 1126 that Cir. (9th different result. in United 2012), States the v. Ninth Turner, Circuit 689 F.3d reached a There, a divided panel held that when the Government s institution of a civil-commitment proceeding stays a prisoner s release from confinement, his term of supervised release begins on the date that he was due to be discharged. Id. of The majority reasoned that because § 3624 suspends a term supervised release when a defendant is imprisoned in connection with a conviction, an individual detained pursuant to a civil provision. statute cannot be subject to § 3624 s tolling Id. (emphasis added). The Turner majority, however, conflated the two separate provisions of § 3624: tolling provision. the commencement provision See 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e). provisions work in different ways. and the These statutory See United States v. Ide, 624 F.3d 666, 669 (4th Cir. 2010); see also Tobey, 794 F. Supp. 2d at 600. which The commencement provision specifies the date on supervised release begins, while the tolling provision describes periods of time during which supervised release is suspended. Of course, [w]hat never begins Turner, 689 F.3d at 1127 (Smith, J., dissenting). cannot end. Thus, a court must first assess whether the defendant s supervised release has begun before it addresses whether his supervised release has been suspended. 13 Turner s conflation is particularly problematic because, as noted above, suspension different events. a person is and commencement are triggered by Although supervised release is suspended when imprisoned in connection with a conviction, supervised release commences simply when a person is released from imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e) (emphasis added). Of critical importance here, the commencement provision does not require that imprisonment be in connection with a conviction. Id. Under regardless the of statute s whether it plain is language, imposed any pursuant imprisonment, to a criminal conviction, prevents supervised release from commencing. Turner § 3624. thus falters in light of the plain language of The Turner majority s sole justification for permitting supervised release to run during a detainee s civil confinement is that this kind of detention connection with a conviction. is not imprisonment Turner, 689 F.3d at 1126. 4 4 in But Even if the Turner majority were correct in its reliance on this language, its analysis would still be problematic. For a defendant detained pursuant to § 4248 is in fact imprisoned in connection with a conviction. The Adam Walsh Act allows the Government to commit individuals only if they are presently confined in prison pursuant to a conviction. See 18 U.S.C. § 4248(a). Indeed, in Comstock, 560 U.S. at 134 37, the Supreme Court emphasized that it was § 4248 s close relationship to the enforcement of criminal law that provided Congress with the authority to enact the statute. See id. at 149. The Court observed that Congress presumably could not pass a law providing for the civil commitment of any sexually dangerous person. Id. at 148. Rather, it was the Adam Walsh Act s connection to a (Continued) 14 § 3624 does not require that imprisonment be in connection with a conviction release. to stave Because distinction off Turner between the does § 3624 s commencement not take of supervised account commencement and of the tolling provisions, we cannot endorse its analysis. III. For all of these reasons, we hold that a defendant s term of supervised release does not commence while he remains in federal custody pending the resolution of his status under the Adam Walsh Act. 5 The judgment of the district court is therefore AFFIRMED. detainee s criminal conviction constitutional. Id. at 136. 5 that rendered the statute We note that the case at hand does not require us to determine whether a defendant s civil commitment -as distinguished from the time a defendant serves in prison pending the outcome of his civil-commitment hearing -- constitutes imprisonment. There may be reasons for treating civil commitment differently. For example, once a person is civilly committed, section 4248 requires the Government to release [that] person to . . . the State. 18 U.S.C. § 4248(d) (emphasis added). Releasing a prisoner may suffice to end his imprisonment. See Johnson, 529 U.S. at 57. In any event, our disposition in this case does not preordain the outcome of that very different situation. 15