Eighth Circuit Vacates Special Condition of Supervised Release on Possessing Materials Depicting Nudity
Jerry Simons was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment and 20 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to violating the registration provisions of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. At sentencing, the district court imposed a special condition of supervised release prohibiting Simons from possessing or having under his control "any material, legal or illegal, that contains nudity or that depicts or alludes to sexual activity or depicts sexually arousing material."
Simmons appealed the condition arguing that it was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, infringing on his "First Amendment right to view nonobscene material that contains nudity." He also argued that the condition gave too much discretion to the probation office to determine what constitutes "sexual activity" and "sexually arousing material."
The Eighth Circuit agreed with Simons that the condition was overbroad. The court began its analysis by noting that it had upheld special conditions of supervised release barring the possession or viewing of "material that depicts or alludes to sexual activity or depicts sexually arousing material." However, the condition in Simons' case was different, more expansive in that it prohibited the possession of any material that depicted nudity.
"By its terms, [the condition] would prohibit Simons from viewing a biology textbook or purchasing an art book that contained pictures of the Venus de Milo, Michelangelo's David, or Botticelli's Birth of Venus, all of which depict nudity," the court wrote.
Such a condition is simply a "greater deprivation than is reasonably necessary," the court held. "[I]f the district court wished to limit Simons' access to pornography," the court said, "we see no reason why [the] condition could not have been written to state exactly that."
The special condition was accordingly vacated, and the case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings. See: United States v. Simons, 614 F.3d 475 (8th Cir. 2010).
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Related legal case
United States v. Simons
|Cite||614 F.3d 475 (8th Cir. 2010)|
|Level||Court of Appeals|