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Fields v. United States Department of Justice

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

October 17, 2019

John Fields, Petitioner,
v.
United States Department of Justice; Federal Bureau of Prisons, Respondents.

          ORDER AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAIGE J. GOSSET COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The petitioner, John Fields, a self-represented federal prisoner, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2) (D.S.C.) for a Report and Recommendation on Respondent's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 8.) Pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the court advised Petitioner of the summary judgment and dismissal procedures and the possible consequences if he failed to respond adequately to Respondent's motion. (ECF No. 10.) Petitioner filed a response in opposition to the motion. (ECF No. 12.) Having reviewed the record presented and the applicable law, the court finds Respondent's motion should be granted.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are either undisputed, or are taken in the light most favorable to Petitioner, to the extent they find support in the record. Petitioner is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution (“FCI”) Bennettsville, South Carolina.[2] (Johnson Decl. ¶ 4, Resp't's Mot., ECF No. 8-1 at 1.) Petitioner is serving a ninety-two month sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in March 2016. (Id. ¶ 8, ECF No. 8-1 at 2.)

         Prior to his federal sentence, in April 2015, Petitioner was arrested for three driving-related offenses and contempt of court in Hamblin County, Tennessee. (Pet., ECF No. 1-2 at 1.) On April 16, 2015, the Hamblin County Court of General Sessions sentenced Petitioner to serve twelve days in jail, with credit for time served, and placed him on six months' probation for each offense, to run consecutively. (Id.)

         On July 19, 2015, Petitioner was again arrested for driving-related offenses and contempt, but also for a drug offense. (Id., ECF No. 1-1 at 2, ECF No. 1-2 at 4.) On July 22, 2015, the United States Department of Justice filed a detainer with the Hamblin County Jail, notifying the jail officials that Petitioner would be charged with a federal drug offense within forty-eight hours. (Id., ECF No. 1-2 at 3.) On July 23, 2015, the Hamblin County Court of General Sessions sentenced Petitioner to serve eight days in jail for the July 19 charges, with credit for time served, and also placed him on six months' probation. (Id., ECF No. 1-1 at 2, ECF No. 1-2 at 4.) Also, the Court of General Sessions revoked probation as to the one charge from April for which he was currently serving probation; ordered Petitioner to serve thirty days in jail, with credit for time served; and ordered six more months of probation as to that charge, to run consecutively to the other sentences of probation already imposed. (Id., ECF No. 1-1 at 2, ECF No. 1-2 at 4-5.)

         According to Petitioner, the July 23 jail sentences would allow him to be released from state custody in thirty-eight days, or on August 26, 2015. (Id., ECF No. 1-1 at 2.) However, the Hamblin County Jail released Petitioner to the United States Marshals Service pursuant to a federal writ on August 21, 2015. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 7, ECF No. 8-1 at 2.) The Eastern District of Tennessee sentenced Petitioner to ninety-two months' imprisonment on March 14, 2016. (Id. ¶ 8.) That day, Petitioner was returned to state custody. (Id. ¶ 9.) On March 16, 2016, the Hamblin County Court of General Sessions issued an arrest warrant based on Petitioner's violation of his conditions of probation. (Pet., ECF No. 1-2 at 6.) On March 31, 2016, the Court of General Sessions sentenced Petitioner to serve eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail for the probation violation, and additionally, to serve four more terms of six months in jail, all to run consecutively with each other, but concurrently with his federal sentence. (Id. at 7.) But, the Court of General Sessions suspended those sentences based on time Petitioner served in jail. (Id.) On April 14, 2016, Petitioner was released to federal custody to commence his federal sentence. (Johnson Decl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 8-1 at 2.)

         On March 8, 2018, Petitioner filed an informal grievance with the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), claiming that the BOP failed to give him credit for the jail time he served from August 31, 2015 to May 6, 2016. (Pet., ECF No. 1-2 at 8.) The BOP responded that during that time, Petitioner was held by the State of Tennessee on pending state charges of violating probation, and consequently, his federal sentence did not begin to run until Petitioner was sentenced to time served by the Hamblin County Court of General Sessions on March 31, 2016.[3] (Id. at 9.) Petitioner continued to raise this issue with the BOP by filing a request for an administrative remedy, but that request and Petitioner's subsequent appeals were rejected by the BOP for the same reason-that Petitioner was in state custody during the time for which he claims he should be credited for time served. (Id. at 10-18.)

         Petitioner now files this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2241, arguing the BOP is incorrectly calculating his sentence by not giving him credit for the time he served in the Hamblin County Jail from August 26, 2015 to May 5, 2016. (Id., ECF No. 1-1 at 1.) Specifically, Petition argues that the thirty-eight-day sentence imposed by the Hamblin County Court of General Sessions on July 23, 2015 would have ended on August 25, 2015 while Petitioner was in federal custody, and accordingly, the BOP should consider August 26, 2015 to be the day his federal sentence commenced. (Id. at 2.)

         DISCUSSION

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the [moving party] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party may support or refute that a material fact is not disputed by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). Rule 56 mandates entry of summary judgment “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         In deciding whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the evidence of the non-moving party is to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id. at 248.

         The moving party has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the moving party makes this showing, however, the opposing party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but rather must, by affidavits or other means permitted by the Rule, set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), (e); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. Further, while the federal court is charged with liberally construing a pleading filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case, see, e.g., Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007), the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleadings to allege ...


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