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United States v. Speed

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 19, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Jermaine R. Speed and Rico J. Speed, Defendants-Appellants.

Argued November 5, 2015

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. Nos. 14-cr-20056 & 14-cr-20057 Colin S. Bruce, Judge.

Before Flaum, Manion, and Rovner, Circuit Judges.

Manion, Circuit Judge.

Rico and Jermaine Speed are cousins who were caught dealing crack in the city of Kankakee, Illinois. Rico also sold firearms and ammunition in violation of the law. After the cousins each serve 18 years in federal prison, they must each complete eight years of supervised release. These consolidated appeals focus on three identical challenges to Rico's and Jermaine's conditions of supervised release: the district judge's decisions to limit contact with felons, impose alcohol-related restrictions, and prohibit them from using dangerous weapons. We affirm, while clarifying the standards of review that apply when defendants challenge conditions of supervised release.

I. Background

When Rico and Jermaine Speed sold cocaine base, also known as crack cocaine, their drug deals were secretly reported to law enforcement. Rico Speed sold 30 grams of crack to a confidential informant once, and sold firearms and ammunition to the same informant four times, between 2011 and 2013. After he was indicted on four counts, he pleaded guilty to one count of possessing a firearm as a felon and one count of knowingly distributing crack. Jermaine Speed was indicted on four counts for selling cocaine four times in 2010 and 2011: he sold 8.9 grams, 10.2 grams, 27.2 grams, and 29.6 grams of cocaine to a confidential informant. He pleaded guilty to the last count only, for his largest cocaine sale.

In separate sentencing hearings, District Judge Colin Bruce varied downward and imposed 216 months in prison, or 18 years, on each defendant. Judge Bruce also sentenced each to the mandatory eight years of supervised release.

When Judge Bruce began these sentencing hearings, Rico's attorney and Jermaine's attorney each offered objections to the presentence investigation reports (PSRs) provided by probation, but neither attorney objected to the PSRs' recommended conditions of release. As probation read its recommendations for supervised-release conditions, Judge Bruce adopted the conditions and reasoning found in each PSR.

First, for both Rico and Jermaine, the district court required that "[t]he defendant shall not knowingly meet, communicate, or otherwise interact with any person whom he knows to be a convicted felon or to be engaged in, or planning to engage in, criminal activity, unless granted permission to do so by the probation officer." The district court reasoned that this would give each defendant his best chance of succeeding in supervised release, by keeping him away from people who would entice him to commit crimes.

Second, Judge Bruce directed each defendant that "[y]ou shall, at the direction of the U.S. Probation Office, participate in a program for alcohol treatment, including testing, to determine if you have used alcohol. Yo u shall abide by the rules of the treatment provider." Judge Bruce reasoned that it is not unusual for drug-dependent individuals to drink more alcohol when drugs become unavailable. As he noted, alcohol-treatment programs would also require Rico and Jermaine to abstain from alcohol. Later, in his written judgments, Judge Bruce added this language to the conditions of release: "You shall refrain from any use of alcohol."

Third, although the PSR contained no recommendation on this issue, the district judge added a condition during the oral sentencings. He ordered that Rico and Jermaine "shall not possess a firearm, ammunition, destructive device, or any other dangerous weapon." Judge Bruce did not provide reasons for imposing this condition on either defendant.

Rico and Jermaine Speed now bring these direct appeals.

II. Discussion


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