Submitted: September 21, 2016
from United States District Court for the Southern District
of Iowa - Des Moines
RILEY, Chief Judge, MURPHY and SMITH, Circuit Judges.
special condition of Cynthia Hobbs's supervised release
prohibits her from "direct, indirect, or electronic
contact" with her husband. Because the record does not
support this sweeping restriction on her important
constitutional right of marriage, we vacate and remand for
2009, Hobbs and her husband were charged with aggravated
identity theft and conspiring to commit bank fraud. They
pleaded guilty. Hobbs was sentenced to 56 months'
imprisonment and 5 years' supervised release. Her husband
was sentenced to 80 months' imprisonment and 5 years'
supervised release. They were ordered jointly to pay
approximately $18, 000 in restitution.
entered supervision in November 2014. At first she did well.
Then, in January 2016, probation moved to revoke her
supervised release, alleging four violations of her release
conditions. First, Hobbs moved from her registered address
without telling her probation officer. Second, she failed to
submit to a required urinalysis. Third, she left her job at
McDonald's without telling her probation officer. (These
first three violations happened in January 2016.) And fourth,
Hobbs stopped making restitution payments in August 2015, the
month her husband was released.
April 2016, Hobbs appeared before the court and admitted the
violations. Noting Hobbs's cooperation, the government
asked that her release be modified rather than revoked. The
government also asked the court to impose a condition of
"no contact with her husband."
hearing focused on the no-contact issue. The court expressed
concern that Hobbs's violations were connected to her
husband's release. "My understanding from speaking
with the probation officer and reviewing the record, "
said the court, "is that Ms. Hobbs was doing very well
on supervision when she was living independently and Mr.
Hobbs was still incarcerated." "And then, "
the court went on, "this contact occurs with her spouse,
and those positive steps forward cease and, in fact, she
absconds from supervision. That time line seems to the court
to be instructive." A probation officer established Mr.
Hobbs's release date but did not establish that Hobbs had
had any contact with her husband since his release.
court then outlined its revocation sentence: 30 days'
imprisonment and no marital contact. The court emphasized the
coincidence of Hobbs's noncompliance and her
husband's release: "The court finds that the time
line related to the release of her co-defendant and the
introduction, reintroduction of her spouse, Jack Hobbs, into
her home and her life . . . was one factor that appears to
have contributed to the violations that occurred here."
The court acknowledged the constitutional implications of
substantially restraining Hobbs's marital liberties, but
it considered the restrictions reasonably necessary for the
remaining three-and-a-half years of her supervision.
court entered an order modifying Hobbs's supervised
release to include this condition:
The defendant shall have no direct, indirect, or electronic
contact with codefendant and husband, Jack Hobbs, during her