from the United States District Court for the District of
Kansas (D.C. No. 2:05-CR-20087-JWL-3)
Richard A. Friedman, Attorney, Appellate Section, Criminal
Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington,
D.C. (Barry R. Grissom, United States Attorney, District of
Kansas, James A. Brown, and Scott C. Rask, Assistant United
States Attorneys, Office of the United States Attorney for
the District of Kansas, Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant
Attorney General, and Sung-Hee Suh, Deputy Assistant Attorney
General, with him on the briefs), for Plaintiff-Appellant.
T. Hansmeier, Appellate Chief, Kansas Federal Public
Defender, Kansas City, Kansas (Melody Bannon, Chief Federal
Public Defender, Kansas Public Defender, Kansas City, Kansas,
with him on the brief), for Defendant-Appellee.
HOLMES, BALDOCK, and MATHESON, Circuit Judges.
HOLMES, Circuit Judge.
Collins was serving a term of supervised release as part of
his sentence for knowingly and intentionally distributing
more than five grams of a mixture or substance containing
cocaine base (i.e., crack cocaine), in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(iii). His supervised release
was revoked after he failed several drug tests. He was
reincarcerated and received a new term of supervised release.
Upon his release from prison, his supervised release was
revoked a second time after he again failed multiple drug
tests and failed to participate in a required substance-abuse
program. Following his second revocation, the district court
sentenced Mr. Collins to twelve months' imprisonment,
having determined that the maximum term of imprisonment that
it could impose under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3) was one
year. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we
reject this application of § 3583(e)(3), reverse the
district court's sentencing order and remand the case,
instructing the court to vacate its revocation judgment and
resentence Mr. Collins.
undercover agent of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation
arranged through an informant to conduct three transactions
involving the sale of crack cocaine. On November 6, 2003, the
agent purchased 7.11 grams of crack cocaine at a roadside
park near Baxter Springs, Kansas. Mr. Collins and the
informant were among the passengers in the vehicle from which
the agent made the purchase. Following the first transaction,
the informant supplied the agent with two telephone numbers
to arrange subsequent drug purchases. On November 13, 2003,
after calling one of the telephone numbers and speaking with
Mr. Collins, the agent purchased 4.66 grams of crack cocaine
in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Pittsburg, Kansas.
On December 9, 2003, after calling both telephone numbers,
the agent conducted a third transaction, this time purchasing
5.47 grams of crack cocaine from Mr. Collins and two other
males in the shopping mall in Pittsburg. In an interview in
November 2005, Mr. Collins recalled selling crack cocaine on
at least five other occasions.
August 17, 2005, Mr. Collins was indicted along with two
other men on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess
with intent to distribute more than fifty grams of a mixture
or substance containing cocaine base, in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(iii), and three counts
of knowingly and intentionally distributing more than five
grams of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(iii).
Upon entering into a plea agreement, Mr. Collins was
convicted on one count of distribution, in violation of
§ 841(b)(1)(B)(iii). The district court imposed a
sentence of eighty-four months' imprisonment to be
followed by four years of supervised release. Over the course
of the next two years, for reasons not material here, the
district court reduced Mr. Collins's prison term to sixty
months; his supervised release term remained unchanged.
completing his prison sentence, Mr. Collins failed several
drug tests in October 2010 and his supervised release was
revoked the following July. As a result of this revocation,
Mr. Collins was reincarcerated for a term of eighteen months
and sentenced to a new three-year term of supervised release.
Upon his second release from prison, Mr. Collins was found in
possession of a controlled substance, failed several drug
tests, and was terminated from a substance-abuse treatment
program. At a revocation hearing on March 2, 2015, Mr.
Collins admitted to these supervised-release violations, and
the district court revoked his second supervised release
this second revocation, the district court sentenced Mr.
Collins to twelve months' imprisonment to be followed by
a two-year term of supervised release. In sentencing Mr.
Collins, the district court determined that the statutory
maximum term of imprisonment that it could impose under 18
U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3) was one year, believing that it was
restricted by the maximum supervised release term that was
authorized for the violation forming the basis for (i.e.,
resulting in) the first revocation of supervised release,
rather than the maximum term authorized for the original
offense of conviction, in resentencing Mr. Collins. The
government timely appealed from the district court's
sole issue the government raises on appeal is whether the
district court erred in sentencing Mr. Collins to twelve
months' imprisonment under an ostensible one-year
statutory maximum based on § 3583(e)(3), which limits
reincarceration following revocation of supervised release to
the "term of supervised release authorized by statute
for the offense that resulted in such term of
supervised release, " 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3)
(emphasis added). Resolution of this issue turns on a
question of statutory interpretation: in determining the
maximum allowable term of reincarceration following a
second revocation of supervised release, does §
3583(e)(3) refer to the original criminal offense for which
the defendant was convicted or the subsequent
violation of the conditions of supervised release that
resulted in his first revocation?
extent that the government challenges the district
court's sentencing order because the court allegedly
failed to apply the correct law-and "to the extent that
determining the 'correct law' requires us to engage
in statutory interpretation-our review is de novo."
United States v. Burkholder, 816 F.3d 607, 611-12
(10th Cir. 2016); accord United States v. Porter,
745 F.3d 1035, 1040 (10th Cir. 2014); United States v.
Sturm, 672 F.3d 891, 897 (10th Cir. 2012) (en banc);
see also United States v. Nacchio, 573 F.3d 1062,
1087 (10th Cir. 2009) ("We review questions of statutory
interpretation de novo.").
outset, we provide a brief overview of the structure of 18
U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3) to clarify the nature of our
interpretive inquiry. Section 3583(e)(3) allows the district
court to revoke a term of supervised release upon finding by
a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant has
violated the conditions of supervised release. The district
court may then "require the defendant to serve in prison
all or part of the term of supervised release authorized by
statute for the offense that resulted in such term . . .
without credit for time previously served." 18 U.S.C.
§ 3583(e)(3). However, Congress included a limiting
principle in this provision:
[A] defendant whose term [of supervised release] is revoked
under this paragraph may not be required to serve on any such
revocation more than 5 years in prison if the offense
that resulted in the term of supervised release is a
class A felony, more than 3 years in prison if such offense
is a class B felony, more than 2 years in prison if such
offense is a class C or D felony, or more than one year in
any other case[.]
Id. (emphasis added). As these plain terms reveal,
the "offense that resulted in" provision of §
3583(e)(3) operates to limit the maximum term of imprisonment
following the revocation of a term of supervised release. The
provision is triggered after a defendant's term of
supervised release has been revoked.
undisputed that the limitation on the maximum term of
imprisonment under § 3583(e)(3) relates to the original
crime of conviction when a defendant's supervised release
term is revoked for the first time. However, Mr.
Collins argues that, following a second revocation
of supervised release, the relevant "offense" under
§ 3583(e)(3) is the violative conduct that gave rise to
the first revocation. At Mr. Collins's sentencing, the
government disagreed, arguing that § 3583(e)(3)'s
"offense that resulted in" language refers to the
original crime of conviction. If the government's
interpretation is correct-viz., if the statutory
maximum is based on Mr. Collins's original offense,
rather than the violation resulting in his first
revocation-then the maximum term of imprisonment that Mr.
Collins could serve under subsection (e)(3) is three years,
rather than the one-year maximum on which the district court
based its ruling. In other words, to the extent that Mr.
Collins's sentence was based on this legal error, his
sentence should reflect the three-year maximum for the class
B felony for which he was first sentenced. R., Vol.
I, at 40 (listing Mr. Collins's offense of conviction as
"distribution of more than five grams of cocaine
base"); see 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)
(2000) (restricting term of imprisonment for distribution of
"5 grams or more of a mixture or substance . . . which
contains cocaine base" to "not . . . less than 5
years and not more than 40 years"); 18 U.S.C. §
3559(a)(2) (classifying an offense with a maximum term of
imprisonment of "twenty-five years or more, as a Class B
"primary task in interpreting statutes [is] to determine
congressional intent." Coffey v. Freeport McMoran
Copper & Gold, 581 F.3d 1240, 1245 (10th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Russell v. United States, 551 F.3d 1174,
1178 (10th Cir. 2008)). In doing so, we begin "where all
such inquires must begin: with the language of the statute
itself." First Nat'l Bank of Durango v. Woods
(In re Woods), 743 F.3d 689, 694 (10th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Ransom v. FIA Card Servs., N.A., 562 U.S.
61, 69 (2011)); see also United States v. West, 671
F.3d 1195, 1199 (10th Cir. 2012) (stating that "we first
and foremost look to the statute's language to ascertain
Congressional intent"). "It is well established
that 'when the statute's language is plain, the sole
function of the courts-at least where the disposition
required by the text is not absurd-is to enforce it according
to its terms.'" Lamie v. U.S. Tr., 540 U.S.
526, 534 (2004) (quoting Hartford Underwriters Ins. Co.
v. Union Planters Bank, N.A., 530 U.S. 1, 6 (2000));
cf. Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Reading
Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 56 (2012) ("[T]he
purpose [of a statute] must be derived from the text, not
from extrinsic sources such as legislative history or an
assumption about the legal drafter's desires.").
"We will look beyond the plain language of a statute
only if the result is an absurd application of the
law." United States v. Brown, 529 F.3d 1260,