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United States v. Johnson

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

June 30, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
VAUGHN JOHNSON, a/k/a Andrew Smith, a/k/a Glenroy King Vaughn Johnson, Appellant

          Argued on May 4, 2017

         On Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands (D.V.I. No. 1:11-cr-00021-001) District Judge: Honorable Wilma A. Lewis

          Omodare B. Jupiter [Argued] Office of Federal Public Defender Counsel for Appellant.

          Alphonso G. Andrews, Jr. Office of United States Attorney David W. White [Argued] Office of United States Attorney Counsel for Appellee.

          Before: GREENAWAY, JR., SHWARTZ, and FUENTES, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          FUENTES, Circuit Judge.

         Appellant Vaughn Johnson challenges a judgment revoking his term of supervised release and resentencing him to 18 months in prison (with credit for time served). He contends, among other things, that the District Court of the Virgin Islands lacked jurisdiction over the term of supervised release, because 1) he was subject to a previous revocation order, entered by a different district court, on an unrelated concurrent supervised release term; and 2) the Virgin Islands Probation Office failed to actually supervise him or attempt to do so. As we find that the District Court was not deprived of jurisdiction, we will affirm.

         I.

         In the early 2010s, Johnson was twice convicted of federal crimes. The first conviction, in the Middle District of Florida, arose from a charge of lying on a passport application. The second, in the District of the Virgin Islands, arose from wire fraud charges. In both instances, Johnson received a custodial sentence followed by three years of supervised release, the conditions of which would be violated if he committed another crime.[1] Because Johnson was already imprisoned on the first charge when he was indicted, convicted, and sentenced on the second, he effectively served one aggregate prison term in connection with both convictions.

         After Johnson was released from prison in January 2014, he settled in the Middle District of Florida, and the Middle District's Probation Office took charge of his supervision. Aside from a brief status phone call in June 2014 that he initiated, Johnson had no contact with the Virgin Islands Probation Office, which otherwise took no action to supervise or keep tabs on him.

         In January 2015, Johnson was again indicted in Florida federal court for lying on a passport application-a charge to which he would eventually plead guilty, but which also violated the no-new-crime condition of his supervised release terms. As a result, the Middle District of Florida began taking steps to revoke the Florida term of supervised release by issuing an order of detention. Johnson eventually admitted the Middle District revocation charge and, in April 2016, the district court entered a judgment of revocation sentencing him to time served.

         Although the new Florida federal indictment had been handed down in January 2015, the Virgin Islands Probation Office took no action until March 2016, when it was belatedly informed by its Middle District of Florida counterpart of Johnson's new indictment and, by extension, of his violation of the conditions of the Virgin Islands term of supervised release. After inquiring into whether the Middle District of Florida Probation Office would accept a formal transfer of jurisdiction (Florida declined), the Virgin Islands Probation Office notified the Virgin Islands District Court of Johnson's violation. The Court then began the formal process of revoking Johnson's Virgin Islands term of supervised release.

         This time, however, Johnson decided to challenge the revocation proceedings. He did so partly on jurisdictional grounds, arguing that the Florida district court's judgment of revocation had eliminated the Virgin Islands term of supervised release, leaving nothing left to supervise or revoke. He claimed also that the Virgin Islands Probation Office's abdication of its supervisory responsibility-as demonstrated by its failure to supervise or attempt to supervise between his release from prison and March 2016- otherwise deprived the District Court of jurisdiction.

         After conducting a revocation hearing, [2] the District Court overruled Johnson's challenges, denied his oral motion to dismiss, revoked his supervised release, and sentenced him to 18 months in prison (with credit for time served) and 18 additional months of supervised release. Johnson appealed.

         II.[3]

         a) Jurisdictional Arguments

         1)Merger of Concurrent Terms of ...


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