United States v. Wilks, No. 21-2559 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Wilks, indicted for possessing a firearm as a prohibited person, was released on bond with conditions, including home confinement with limited exceptions. A superseding indictment in an earlier-filed drug-trafficking case added Wilks as a defendant. The new indictment included the original firearm charge; his bond and release conditions were carried over. Wilks obtained the court’s permission to leave his home near Indianapolis to stay overnight in Centralia, Illinois for medical appointments, a family wedding, and religious services. He went to a bar in Mount Vernon, where a fatal shooting occurred. The government moved to revoke Wilks’s release for violating his release conditions prohibiting any contact with codefendants and requiring him to promptly report any contact with law enforcement. The district judge viewed a video of Wilks in the bar and revoked Wilks’s release, finding that Wilks had violated his home-confinement condition as amended by the order allowing his visit to Centralia.
The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. A finding that the defendant violated a release condition does not alone permit revocation; the judge must make findings under 18 U.S.C. 3148(b)(1) and (b)(2) before he may revoke release. Though it was not improper for the judge to reframe the inquiry, Wilks’s counsel did not have an opportunity to address the specific issue that the judge was concerned about. The judge did not explain why detention was necessary under section 3148(b)(2).