Court Opinion: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for Oct. 6

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

United States v. McAlister

Earl McAlister appealed his sentence challenging several conditions of his supervised release. Because the written judgment didn’t conform to the orally pronounced sentence, as the government conceded, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals out of Muskogee, Oklahoma, reversed and remanded.

McAlister pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. At his sentencing hearing, the district court imposed a life sentence and five years of supervised release. It also orally pronounced eight conditions of the supervised release. Three days later, the district court entered a written judgment that memorialized this sentence but included 11 discretionary standard conditions of supervised release that hadn’t been pronounced orally at the sentencing hearing, the 10th Circuit determined, citing its recent decision in United States v. Geddes.

McAlister appealed asking to vacate the newly added discretionary standard conditions and remand with instructions to strike them from the judgment. The 10th Circuit reviewed for abuse of discretion.

According to the 10th Circuit’s opinion “an orally pronounced sentence controls” over a written judgment “when the two conflict,” based on the court’s 1987 decision in United States v. Villano. This is because “[t]he sentencing judge must announce the sentence such that the defendant is aware of the sentence when leaving the courtroom.” This rule extends to standard conditions of supervised release: “[D]istrict courts must orally pronounce discretionary conditions classified as standard by the sentencing guidelines at sentencing,” the opinion continued. 

Here, the district court didn’t orally pronounce or otherwise reference the additional discretionary standard conditions of supervised release that appear in the written judgment. It erred in doing so, the 10th Circuit determined. 

The 10th Circuit reversed the imposition of the discretionary standard conditions of supervised release and remanded for the district court to conform the written judgment to the orally pronounced sentence.

Previous articleLocal Firms Announce New Attorneys; 8th and 12th Judicial District Announce Events
Next articleVacancy Announced for Gilpin County Court


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here