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Press Release

Third Circuit Vacates Child Abuse Sentences, Orders Resentencing and Reassignment

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit today ruled that a former U.S. Army major and his wife, convicted for having endangered the welfare of their young, adopted children through a series of physically abusive and neglectful acts, must be resentenced before a different district court judge, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Convicted by a jury in July 2015 on multiple counts of child endangerment, Carolyn Jackson initially received 24 months in prison while her husband, John E. Jackson, formerly a major in the Army at the Picatinny Arsenal Installation in Morris County, New Jersey, received probation, plus 400 hours of community service. The government had appealed their sentences to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which found procedural error and ordered resentencing. See United States v. Jackson, 862 F.3d 365 (3d Cir. 2017).

At the 2018 resentencing, the district court imposed a 40-month sentence on Carolyn Jackson and the same probationary sentence on John Jackson. The government appealed those sentences and the Third Circuit again found procedural error and remanded for resentencing. See United States v. Jackson, 819 F. App’x 97 (3d Cir. 2020). At the third sentencing hearing, in October 2021, the district court reimposed the same 40-month sentence on Carolyn Jackson and imposed a sentence of 18 months’ home confinement on John Jackson. The government appealed those sentences.

Today, the Court of Appeals agreed that, in the process of imposing those sentences, the district court had failed to follow its directions to consider the children’s various injuries “holistically and in the context of the jury’s findings of guilt” in determining causation. In light of the three prior sentencing hearings in this case, the Court of Appeals concluded that the district court would have “substantial difficulty in putting out of her mind her previously expressed views of the evidence.” It ordered resentencing and directed the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to reassign this case to a different district court judge. Resentencing will occur at a later date, which has yet to be determined. A copy of the Court of Appeals’ opinion is attached.

The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney John F. Romano of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Appeals Division in Newark.



Updated April 3, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-090