Sentencing of Persons with Mental Illness

United States v. Kluball, 843 F.3d 716 (7th Cir. 2016)

Seventh Circuit holds a defendant’s history of mental illness and ineffective treatment can be considered by the sentencing judge as a prediction of the potential for future misconduct without violating the defendant’s due process rights when reasonably based on factually accurate information.

Background: Alexander Klubal pled guilty and was sentenced to 10-years confinement for transporting a 17-year-old girl across state lines to engage in prostitution. A presentence report detailed Kluball’s history of mental illness, which included diagnoses of oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression. Klubal had received counseling, was hospitalized several times, and was treated with drugs including Adderall, Depakote, Eskalith, Fluoxetine, lithium, Prozac, Remeron, Ritalin, Seroquel, Strattera, Valium, Zoloft, Zydis, and Zyprexa. None of the treatments succeeded or lasted very long. During sentencing, the judge remarked that Kluball’s history of mental illness did not alleviate any responsibility for his crimes and suggested that mental health treatment would not have a lasting impact on his ability refrain from engaging in criminal conduct in the future. The judge then sentenced Kluball to the statutory maximum of 10 years. Kluball appealed the sentence, challenging the judge’s assertion that treatment would not have a lasting impact on his conduct as a violation of his due process rights.

Holding: The Seventh Circuit affirmed the 10-year sentence finding no violation of due process.

Notable Point:

Sentencing: The Seventh Circuit explained that during sentencing judges are routinely required to make predictions about a defendant’s future conduct and response to treatment. The court explained that such predictions do not violate due process when they are based on accurate information rather than unsupported speculation. The court was satisfied that Kluball’s history of mental illness and response to past treatment was factually accurate and sufficient to support the judge’s predictions about Kluball’s future conduct.

Found in DMHL Volume 35, Issue 4