United States v. Haymond, 139 S.Ct. 2369 (2019), exposed critical disagreements within the U.S. Supreme Court about the law and nature of federal supervised release. In competing 4-4-1 opinions, the justices clashed on whether framing a violation of supervised release as a “breach of trust” justifies the failure to extend Sixth Amendment rights to revocation proceedings. Given the changing composition of the Supreme Court, including Justice Breyer’s retirement, the Sixth Amendment debate in Haymond remains unresolved. This Article therefore examines the origins and evolution of the “breach of trust” framework, which several justices invoked to support the lack of jury trial rights at revocation. The Article shows how this framework—a product of advisory policy statements adopted more than three decades ago—has become garbled and disjointed over time.
This Article also unearths the record of Mr. Haymond’s own supervised release revocation hearing. The record reveals that the district court did not impose a five-year prison sentence on Mr. Haymond as a penalty for a breach of its trust. Instead, the district court considered the five-year sentence “repugnant” and expressed its distress over the inadequacies of the process that led to this outcome.