Ginsburg sides with conservative justices in ruling over prison sentence

The Supreme Court on Monday found that a criminal defendant can be sentenced for violating his supervised release, even if the release expires while he is incarcerated ahead of facing new charges.

The justices, divided in the 5-4 decision, ruled against Jason Mont's argument that a district court shouldn't be able to charge him for violating his release because the term had expired at the time of the new sentencing.

ADVERTISEMENT

Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgSupreme Court postpones April arguments Ginsburg's personal trainer says she's working out amid the pandemic Supreme Court raises bar for racial discrimination claims in contracts MORE sided with conservative Justices Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasSupreme Court postpones April arguments Supreme Court rules Citgo responsible for 2004 oil spill Trump steps up intensity in battle with media MORE, John Roberts, Samuel AlitoSamuel AlitoSupreme Court postpones April arguments Supreme Court rules Citgo responsible for 2004 oil spill Supreme Court postpones oral arguments amid coronavirus pandemic MORE and Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughProgressive group knocks McConnell for talking judicial picks during coronavirus Trump nominates former Kavanaugh clerk for influential appeals court Coronavirus isn't the only reason Congress should spend less time in DC MORE in the majority. Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchHillicon Valley: Twitter says Chinese official's virus disinformation doesn't violate rules | Hackers target WHO | Senators urge agencies to stop coronavirus robocalls Supreme Court raises bar for racial discrimination claims in contracts Progressives urge Democrats to hear from federal judge deeply critical of Roberts, conservatives MORE joined liberal Justices Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorSupreme Court postpones April arguments Overnight Energy: Critics blast EPA move as 'license to pollute' during pandemic | Trump expected to roll back Obama mileage standards| Group plans to sue over rollback of water law Supreme Court rules Citgo responsible for 2004 oil spill MORE, Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerSupreme Court postpones April arguments Supreme Court rules states can eliminate insanity defense Supreme Court postpones oral arguments amid coronavirus pandemic MORE and Elena KaganElena KaganSupreme Court rules states can eliminate insanity defense Key Democrat urges Supreme Court to livestream oral arguments Former public worker asks Supreme Court to force repayment of union dues MORE in opposing the decision.

Mont had previously been convicted on felony drug and gun charges and served 84 months in prison before beginning a five-year supervised release due to end in March 2017.

However, he faced other charges in 2015 and 2016 and was incarcerated in state jail in June 2016. After several delays of a hearing, a district court heard and ruled that Mont had violated his supervised release and imposed another prison sentence.

Mont had opposed the new 42-month sentence, set to run after completing the sentence for his new charges, which he pleaded guilty to. He said that he shouldn't face the new sentence because the court had repeatedly delayed the hearing until after the end date for his supervised release term.

Thomas wrote in the majority opinion that "time in pretrial detention constitutes supervised release only if the charges against the defendant are dismissed or the defendant is acquitted."

"This ensures that the defendant is not faulted for conduct he might not have committed, while otherwise giving full effect to the lawful judgment previously imposed on the defendant."

However, Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion that she doesn't agree with the majority's reasoning "that a person 'is imprisoned in connection with a conviction' before any conviction has occurred."