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Resentencing Ordered After Judge Said Defendant “Turned Into A Demon”

Yvonne Hall’s supervised release was revoked and sentenced to 36 months imprisonment. Resentencing is now scheduled after Hall’s judge made inappropriate religious comments at sentencing.

The following exchange between the judge and the defendant took place at sentencing:

Have you ever picked up the Bible?

Hall: Yes, I have.

Court: What have you done with it?

Hall: I mean, I read it. It’s nothing—I don’t think it’s a spiritual thing.

Court: And I’m going to sentence you to 36 months’ custody …. But I just wish that you would give yourself time to reflect on the self, that you have turned into a demon and you’ve known it. You’re not sick. You’ve turned yourself into a demon and you need not have done that.

The Eleventh Circuit reversed, finding “the court’s colloquy with Hall makes clear that its sentencing decision was substantially affected by the consideration of religion.” According to the court, “religion was a focal point of the colloquy, and the court, in explaining its sentencing decision, twice called Hall a “demon,” thus indicating that its “imposition of a lengthy prison term … reflected the fact that [its] own sense of religious propriety had somehow been betrayed.” The case was remanded for re-sentencing. United States v. Hall, No. 15-15096 (11th Cir. 2017).

About Brandon Sample

Brandon Sample is an attorney, author, and criminal justice reform activist.Brandon’s law practice is focused on federal criminal defense, federal appeals, federal post-conviction relief, federal civil rights litigation, federal administrative law, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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