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United States v. Adams

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

April 26, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
ISIAH BERNARD ADAMS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted on the briefs: [*]

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma (D.C. No. 4:13-CR-00132-GKF-1)

          Barry L. Derryberry and William Patrick Widell, Jr., Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Tulsa, Oklahoma for Defendant-Appellant.

          Kevin C. Leitch, Assistant United States Attorney, (R. Trent Shores, United States Attorney with him on the brief) Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before HARTZ, SEYMOUR, and PHILLIPS, Circuit Judges.

          HARTZ, Circuit Judge.

          One of the conditions of supervised release for Defendant Isiah Bernard Adams was that he comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 34 U.S.C. §§ 20911-20932.[1] The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma found that Defendant, who was homeless at the time, had violated that condition by failing to update his SORNA registration within three days of changing his residence to Tulsa. He challenges the court's finding, arguing on appeal that the government offered no evidence that he had established his residence in Tulsa for SORNA purposes by residing there for 30 days or more. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we hold that there was sufficient evidence and affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant pleaded guilty in 2014 for failing to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison, followed by a five-year term of supervised release, which eventually began in November 2015. One condition of his supervised release was that he "comply with the requirements of [SORNA]." R., Vol. I at 10.

         In January 2017, Sharla Belluomo, a Tulsa-based probation officer supervising Defendant, filed a petition (the Petition) alleging five violations of the terms of his supervised release. The district court held a revocation hearing on April 5, 2017. Defendant stipulated to four of the alleged violations but denied the allegation that he had violated SORNA by "fail[ing] to update his registration status when he changed residences in July 2016." Id. at 14. He claimed that he had "just found . . . out" that homeless people could register as such under SORNA, and that people at a court building had told him that homeless people could not register. R., Vol. III at 12. In response, Belluomo testified that in July or August 2016, Defendant had returned to Tulsa after living in a facility in Oklahoma City under a "public law placement" because of a state failure-to-pay charge. Id. at 22. According to Belluomo, after Defendant reported that he was homeless, she had instructed him to "register as homeless, " and he had acknowledged the need to do so and "told [her] that he was able to register weekly." Id. at 19. She further testified that before she submitted the Petition, she had been informed by the officer overseeing the Tulsa Police Department's sex-offender registry that Defendant had never registered, and had been informed by the person overseeing the state registry that Defendant had last registered in July 2016 in Oklahoma City.

         The district court determined that Belluomo was credible and Defendant was not. It thus found that Defendant had failed to comply with SORNA. The court sentenced Defendant (based on all five violations alleged in the Petition) to 18 months in prison and an 18-month term of supervised release. Apparently believing that his sentence would be lower if there were no finding of a SORNA violation, Defendant appeals the finding.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Defendant argues in this court that there was no evidence that he changed his residence to Tulsa for SORNA purposes. He concedes that he did not raise this argument below, so we review only for plain error. See United States v. Rios-Morales, 878 F.3d 978, 987 (10th Cir. 2017). He must therefore show "(1) error, (2) that is plain, which (3) affects [his] substantial rights, and which (4) seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). In our view, he has failed even to show error.

         To assess Defendant's argument, we begin with a review of his legal obligations. Under SORNA, "[a] sex offender shall register, and keep the registration current, in each jurisdiction where the offender resides . . . ." 34 U.S.C. § 20913(a). The Act defines resides to mean "the location of the individual's home or other place where the individual habitually lives." Id. § 20911(13). To keep the registration current, "[a] sex offender shall, not later than 3 business days after each change of . . . residence . . ., appear in person in at least 1 jurisdiction . . . and inform that jurisdiction of all changes in the information required for that offender in the sex offender registry." Id. ยง ...


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