Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion from August 1

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. Crews

In 2007, Maitise Crews pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court sentenced him to 63 months of imprisonment, to be served concurrently with a much longer state term and three years of supervised release. 

In September 2019, Crews began serving his federal supervised release. Nearly a year later, in August 2020, his probation officer petitioned to revoke his supervised release because he tested positive for drugs multiple times and didn’t comply with drug treatment and monitoring. Crews admitted to the violations. 

Although the guidelines’ range was 21-24 months of imprisonment, the prosecutor considered 12 months and 1 day to be a sufficient sentence, while Crews requested time served pending the revocation hearing — approximately 60 days. Both sides agreed that imprisonment should be followed by two more years of supervision. 

The district court varied downward and imposed a sentence of six months of imprisonment and two years of supervised release. It also warned Crews that “if [he was] revoked again, the court [would] have no interest in continuing supervised release or in varying below the guidelines in terms of incarceration.”

Crews completed the six-month sentence and began serving his second term of supervised release on Jan. 12, 2021. His probation officer reviewed the conditions of release with him on Jan. 13. The next day, Crews failed to provide a urine sample for drug testing. Further, he was living at his wife’s house and she alleged he physically assaulted her.

The probation office placed Crews in a motel — an arrangement that only lasted two days after he had a verbal altercation with another resident. He then moved to his mother’s house, but his wife called the police at least three times over the next two weeks, reporting that he not only made harassing phone calls to her but also forcibly entered her house and stole her marijuana, repeatedly knocked on her door and refused to leave and threw rocks through her windows. During this time, Crews failed two more drug tests. Finally, on Jan. 29, he engaged in a three-hour standoff with police before being arrested. Crews pleaded guilty to one count of criminal mischief, and the state dismissed charges of burglary, assault, harassment and theft.  

Crews’ probation officer filed a petition to revoke his second supervised release with four counts supporting revocation. Count one alleged he violated the law. Counts two and three alleged he failed drug tests. And count four alleged he failed to comply with substance abuse testing as directed. At his second revocation hearing, Crews admitted to all four counts.

This time, both the probation officer and the prosecutor requested that the court impose a 21-month sentence. Crews requested a sentence of time served — 315 days — with no further supervision. The district court imposed a 21-month sentence with no further supervision.

Crews appealed, alleging the district court impermissibly decided his sentence in advance when it warned him at the first revocation hearing that it would not vary in the future. But the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the district court followed the correct procedural steps and Crews failed to establish that it committed a clear or obvious error. 

The 10th Circuit granted Crews’ motion to expedite the appeal and affirmed the district court’s judgment.

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