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United States v. Haymond

Supreme Court of the United States

February 26, 2019, Argued; June 26, 2019, Decided

No. 17-1672.


Justice Gorsuch announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which Justice Ginsburg, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan joined.

Only a jury, acting on proof beyond a reasonable doubt, may take a person’s liberty. That promise stands as one of the Constitution’s most vital protections against arbitrary government. Yet in this case a congressional statute compelled a federal judge to send a man to prison for a minimum of five years without empaneling a jury of his peers or requiring the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. As applied here, we do not hesitate to hold that the statute violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

After a jury found Andre Haymond guilty of possessing child pornography in violation of federal law, the question turned to sentencing. The law authorized the district judge to impose a prison term of between zero and 10 years, 18 U. S. C. §2252(b)(2), and a period [***7]  of supervised release of between 5 years and life, §3583(k). Because Mr. Haymond had no criminal history and was working to help support his mother who had suffered a stroke, the judge concluded that Mr. Haymond was “not going to get much out of being in prison” and sentenced him to a prison term of 38 months, followed by 10 years of supervised release.

 [*2374]  After completing his prison sentence, however, Mr. Haymond encountered trouble on supervised release. He sat for multiple polygraph tests in which he denied possessing or viewing  [**901]  child pornography, and each time the test indicated no deception. But when the government conducted an unannounced search of his computers and cellphone, it turned up 59 images that appeared to be child pornography. Based on that discovery, the government sought to revoke Mr. Haymond’s supervised release and secure a new and additional prison sentence.

A hearing followed before a district judge acting without a jury, and under a preponderance of the evidence rather than a reasonable doubt standard. In light of expert testimony regarding the manner in which cellphones can “cache” images without the user’s knowledge, the judge found insufficient evidence to show that Mr. [***8]  Haymond knowingly possessed 46 of the images. At the same time, the judge found it more likely than not that Mr. Haymond knowingly downloaded and possessed the remaining 13 images.

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139 S. Ct. 2369 *; 204 L. Ed. 2d 897 **; 2019 U.S. LEXIS 4398 ***; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 1079; 2019 WL 2605552


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


United States v. Haymond, 869 F.3d 1153, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16747 (10th Cir. Okla., Aug. 31, 2017)

Disposition: 869 F. 3d 1153, vacated and remanded.


supervised release, sentence, parole, plurality, Sixth Amendment, criminal prosecution, prison, revocation, revocation proceeding, supervised-release, mandatory minimum, prison term, probation, cases, right to a jury trial, proceedings, maximum, beyond a reasonable doubt, term of imprisonment, violating, terms, confinement, rights, jury trial, conditions, convicted, courts, preponderance of evidence, revoke, impose sentence

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Jury Trial, Criminal Law & Procedure, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Statutory Maximums, Supervised Release, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection