Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, November 30, 2020

Bobal: Supervised Release Condition Banning Computer Use for Life Not Plainly Unconstitutional After Packingham

In United States v. Bobal, 19-10678 (Nov. 30, 2020) (William Pryor, Hull, Marcus), the Court affirmed the defendant’s enticement conviction and lifetime supervised release condition prohibiting him from using a computer.

As for the conviction, the Court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a motion for a mistrial based on the prosecutor’s comments at closing.  The comments were not improper and did not substantially affect the verdict.

As for the supervised release condition, and applying plain error, the Court found that the lifetime computer restriction was not plainly unconstitutional in light of Packingham.  The Court found that Packingham was distinguishable because it applied to those who completed their sentences, it applied even to sex offenders who did not use a computer to commit the offense, and the restriction here contained an exception for work.  The Court joined three other circuits who have found no plain error in a similar restriction, and it rejected a Third Circuit opinion that ruled that blanket computer restrictions would rarely be permissible after Packingham.