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Illegally Excessive Sentence Remanded

USA v. Lonnie Lillard Docket: 18-30106 Opinion Date: January 17, 2023. Defendant was serving a sentence of supervised release for a prior federal conviction from Nevada when he was arrested and indicted on one count of Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud. Soon after Defendant’s arrest, the government obtained an order permitting it to seize the funds in his inmate trust account and apply them to a restitution obligation for a prior federal conviction from Washington. Defendant pleaded guilty in the conspiracy case, admitted a violation of his supervised release in his Nevada case, and was sentenced in both cases. Defendant urges that the seizure of his inmate funds violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice and his Fifth Amendment due process right. He also contends that the district court’s imposition of an undisputedly illegal sentence for his supervised release violation is reversible error. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court in part, vacated the sentence imposed for the violation of supervised release, and remanded for re-sentencing on the supervised release violation. The panel concluded that the government’s seizure of Defendant’s inmate funds did not violate his right to either counsel of choice or due process. The court also concluded that the district court’s imposition of an illegally excessive sentence for Defendant’s supervised release violation was plain error that requires vacatur of that sentence and remand for re-sentencing.

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