Delegation Of Judicial Authority To Probation Officer Over Supervised Release Conditions Improper

After George Yarbrough was sentenced, the court included in its written judgment two special conditions of supervised release that required the defendant to: “’participate in a vocational training program as deemed necessary and approved by the probation officer’ and ‘participate in a mental health program as deemed necessary and approved by the probation officer.’” Yarbrough appealed arguing that these supervised release conditions, as written, amounted to an improper delegation of judicial authority. The Fifth Circuit reversed.

“We conclude that the district court abused its discretion by impermissibly delegating judicial authority to the probation officer as to whether Yarbrough would participate in a vocational training program,” the court wrote. “A court impermissibly delegates judicial authority when it gives a probation officer authority to decide whether a defendant will participate in a treatment program,” the court held.

For similar reasons, the appeals court also vacated the mental health condition. See United States v. Yarbrough, No. 15-20236 (5th Cir. 2017) (unpublished).

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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