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Tessinger v. Warden FCI Williamsburg

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

March 22, 2019

Christopher Adam Tessinger, Petitioner,
Warden FCI Williamsburg, Respondent.


          Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Respondent Warden FCI Williamsburg's (“Respondent”) Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment (“Motion”) (ECF Nos. 11, 12) as to Petitioner Christopher Adam Tessinger's (“Petitioner”) Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (“Petition”) (ECF No. 1). Petitioner, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, filed his Petition on January 19, 2018. (ECF No. 1). Respondent filed the Motion on March 13, 2018, asking the Court to dismiss the Petition. (ECF Nos. 11, 12). On March 14, 2018, pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), Petitioner was advised to respond to the Motion and of the possible consequences of failing to adequately respond. (ECF No. 13). Petitioner filed a Response to the Motion on April 11, 2018, and a Supplemental Response on July 23, 2019. (ECF Nos. 17, 19).

         After reviewing the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge assigned to this action[1] prepared a thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report”), which recommends Respondent's Motion be granted and Petitioner's Petition be denied. (ECF No. 21). The Report sets forth, in detail, the relevant facts and standards of law on this matter (ECF No. 21), and the Court incorporates such without a recitation. The Magistrate Judge filed the Report on August 6, 2018, and Petitioner was advised of his right to file objections to that Report by August 20, 2018. (ECF Nos. 21, 21-1). Petitioner timely filed his Objections on August 15, 2018. (ECF No. 23). Thus, the Motion is ripe for review.


         A district court is required to conduct a de novo review only of the specific portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report to which objections are made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); see also Carniewski v. W.Va. Bd. of Prob. & Parole, 974 F.2d 1330 (4th Cir. 1992). In the absence of specific objections to portions of the Report, the Court is not required to give an explanation for adopting the Report. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983). Thus, the Court must only review those portions of the Report to which Plaintiff has made specific written objections. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 316 (4th Cir. 2005).

         “An objection is specific if it ‘enables the district judge to focus attention on those issues- factual and legal-that are at the heart of the parties' dispute.'” Dunlap v. TM Trucking of the Carolinas, LLC, No. 0:15-cv-04009-JMC, 2017 WL 6345402, at *5 n.6 (D.S.C. Dec. 12, 2017) (citing One Parcel of Real Prop. Known as 2121 E. 30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996)). A specific objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report thus requires more than a reassertion of arguments from the Complaint or a mere citation to legal authorities. See Workman v. Perry, No. 6:17-cv-00765-RBH, 2017 WL 4791150, at *1 (D.S.C. Oct. 23, 2017). A specific objection must “direct the court to a specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982).

         “Generally stated, nonspecific objections have the same effect as would a failure to object.” Staley v. Norton, No. 9:07-0288-PMD, 2007 WL 821181, at *1 (D.S.C. Mar. 2, 2007) (citing Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991)). The Court reviews portions “not objected to-including those portions to which only ‘general and conclusory' objections have been made-for clear error.” Id. (emphasis added) (citing Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315; Camby, 718 F.2d at 200; Orpiano, 687 F.2d at 47).

         Where an objection is “nonspecific, unrelated to the dispositive portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, or merely restate[s] . . . claims, ” the Court need not conduct any further review of that objection. Field v. McMaster, 663 F.Supp.2d 449, 452 (D.S.C. 2009); see also McNeil v. S.C. Dept. of Corrections, No. 5:12-2880-MGL, 2013 WL 1102881, at *1 (D.S.C. Mar. 15, 2013) (finding the petitioner's objections to be without merit where the objections were “non-specific, unrelated to the dispositive portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report, and consist[ed] of a reassertion of the arguments” made in the petition); Arbogast v. Spartanburg Cty., No. 07:11-cv-00198-GRA, 2011 WL 5827635, at *2 (D.S.C. Nov. 17, 2011) (finding that the plaintiff's objections were not specific where the objections were “general and conclusory in that they merely reassert[ed] that his conviction was wrongful.”).

         Because Respondent has presented to the Court matters outside the pleadings, which the Court did not exclude, Respondent's motion to dismiss shall be treated as one for summary judgment.[2]


         The entirety of Petitioner's arguments and objections can be distilled into one allegation: that the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) abused its discretion in denying Petitioner's application for nunc pro tunc designation by failing to contact the judge who conducted his federal sentencing pursuant to the statutory factors articulated in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). (ECF No. 23). Although Petitioner broadly alleges that the BOP did not address “these statutory factors, ” he only specifically objects to the BOP's treatment of Factor 4, which requires the BOP to consider statements made by the sentencing court in making its nunc pro tunc determination. (ECF No. 23 at 7). With respect to Petitioner's challenge to the BOP's denial of his request for a nunc pro tunc designation, the Court finds that the BOP did not abuse its discretionary authority in denying Petitioner's request.

         Federal statute mandates that “[a] sentence to a term of imprisonment commences on the date the defendant is received in custody awaiting transportation to, or arrives voluntarily to commence service of sentence at, the official detention facility at which the sentence is to be served.” 18 U.S.C. § 3585. The BOP is prohibited from applying any prior custody credit toward a federal sentence unless the prior time served was a result of (1) the offense for which the current sentence was imposed or (2) a charge for which the petitioner was arrested after the commission of the offense for which the current sentence was imposed. 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b).

         Moreover, § 3585(b) prohibits the BOP from applying prior custody credit toward the federal sentence if the prisoner already received the credit toward another sentence. Id.; see, e.g., United States v. Brown, 977 F.2d 574, 1992 WL 237275, at *1 (4th Cir. 1992) (unpublished table decision) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b)) (“[A] defendant may receive credit against his federal sentence for time spent in official detention prior to the date his sentence commences unless it has been credited against another sentence.”). As a result, in enacting § 3585(b), “Congress made clear that a defendant could not receive a double credit for his detention time.” United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329, 337 (1992).

         An inmate in non-federal custody may have his federal sentence commence the date it is imposed if the BOP makes a nunc pro tunc designation under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), which allows the non-federal facility to serve as a place for service of the federal sentence. Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 483 (3d Cir. 1990). Section 3621(b) enumerates the following factors for the BOP to consider in making a nunc pro tunc designation: (1) the resources of the non-federal facility; (2) the nature and circumstances of the offense; (3) the history and characteristics of the prisoner; (4) any statement by the sentencing court; and (5) any pertinent policy statement issued by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(a)(2). 18 U.S.C. § 3621. While under no obligation to grant a nunc pro tunc designation request, the BOP is to consider the language of the federal and state judgments, the state sentence data record to include jail credit, and “any other pertinent information relating to the federal and state sentences.” BOP Program Statement 5160.05(9)(b)(4)(b). The BOP is afforded wide latitude in exercising its delegated authority under § ...

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