United States v. Comer, No. 19-4466 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Defendant was convicted of conspiring to engage in sex trafficking after she lured women into prostitution via social media and, in at least one case, attempted to use Facebook to force a young woman who had left her trafficking ring to return. While defendant was later on supervised release from her trafficking conviction, she used Facebook to help broker a drug deal.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's imposition of a social networking special condition of supervised release, concluding that the condition is not unconstitutionally vague. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing the social networking condition where the condition advanced the statutory goals of deterrence, protecting the public, and rehabilitation, and it deprived defendant of no more liberty than was necessary to accomplish these goals—even if it does prevent her from finding a romantic partner online during the period of supervision. Finally, while the court found no plain error in the district court's management of the hearing, the court joined the Seventh Circuit in cautioning against sitting Probation with the Government while in the courtroom.