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Brown v. U.S. Department of Justice

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 25, 2017

RAYMOND BROWN Plaintiff
v.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, et al. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PETER J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Raymond Brown has sued the United States Department of Justice, the United States Parole Commission (“Parole Commission”) and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (“CSOSA”) (collectively, “Defendants”). In his Complaint (ECF No. 1), Brown alleges that Defendants kept him on supervised release for approximately ten months past his expiration date. Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss, or Alternatively, for Summary Judgment, disputing two potential interpretations of Brown's Complaint: (1) that his constitutional rights were violated under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971); and (2) that he has a tort claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). In his Opposition, Brown also suggests that Defendants violated the Ex Post Facto Clause and the Thirteenth Amendment when they continued his supervision past his release date.

         For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT WITH PREJUDICE Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9) and therefore, need not address their alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 9).

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In 1989, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia sentenced Brown to nine years in prison for unlawful use of a vehicle, violating the Bail Reform Act, and destruction of property. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, Exhibit A, ECF No. 9-2 at 3. He was released on parole in 1992. ECF No. 9-2 at 6. When his parole was revoked for non-criminal violations, he was immediately reparoled until August 30, 2004, the recalculated expiration date of his sentence. ECF No. 9-2 at 7-8. Subsequently, while on parole, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping while armed, threats while armed, and contempt. ECF No. 9-2 at 1. But in June 2001, Brown signed an expedited revocation proposal in which he accepted responsibility for his violations. ECF No. 9-2 at 11. Pursuant to the proposal, the Parole Commission revoked Brown's parole, forfeited all the time that he had spent on parole, and continued him to the expiration of the sentence, less credit for good time. ECF No. 9-2 at 16. On March 23, 2001, the D.C. Superior Court sentenced Brown to ten years and 180 days in prison, as well as nine years of supervised release, for his parole violations. ECF No. 9-2 at 1.

         In April 2010, Brown's counsel requested that the Parole Commission reopen Brown's case and run his new parole violation sentence concurrently with his original sentence because Brown contended that he had been under the impression that the sentences would run concurrently when he signed the expedited revocation proposal. ECF No. 9-2 at 19. On July 7, 2010, the Parole Commission reopened the case and granted Brown reparole effective nunc pro tunc to May 23, 2001, and began the running of the consecutive sentence on that date, thereby allowing Brown to complete his new sentence in a shorter amount of time. ECF No. 9-2 at 21.

         On July 13, 2010, Brown was released from prison under supervised release, consistent with his revised nonparolable sentence. See ECF No. 9-2 at 24. Brown was supervised by CSOSA because his parolable sentence had expired while he was serving the new sentence. See ECF No. 9-2 at 4. Annual supervision reports in 2014 and 2015 from Brown's CSOSA officer indicated that his supervised release term was set to expire in July 2019, in accordance with the DC Superior Court's nine year supervised release term imposed following his July 2010 release. ECF No. 9-2 at 24, 27. The supervision reports recommended continued supervision, and as late as September 2015, the Parole Commission decided continued Brown's supervision. ECF No. 9-2 at 29.

         On May 25, 2016, Brown's counsel sent a letter to the Parole Commission requesting immediate termination of his supervision. ECF No. 9-2 at 30. He advised that in December 2009, the D.C. Superior Court had vacated his nine-year period of supervised release in order to conform to D.C. law, which limits supervised release to a maximum period of five years. Id. at 30-31, 34. On May 27, 2016, the Parole Commission instructed CSOSA to discontinue Brown's supervision, noting that “[t]he BOP never received the amended J & C and the sentence computation information was not updated” so that his supervision should have expired July 12, 2015. ECF No. 9-2 at 36.

         On October 25, 2016, Brown, pro se, filed the present Complaint against Defendants, claiming that they “knowingly, willingly, and intentionally” refused to release him from supervised parole when his case expired, which in effect placed him in a state of “involuntary servitude until on or about [sic] May 27, 2016.” ECF No. 1 ¶ 1. He also claims that Defendants violated 28 C.F.R. § 2.35(a), which states that “A prisoner shall be mandatorily released by operation of law at the end of the sentence imposed by the court…” Brown seeks punitive damages of $5, 000, 000.

         In their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants infer two potential interpretations of Brown's Complaint and dispute both. To the extent Brown brings a Bivens claim alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by keeping him on supervised release, they argue that the Court should dismiss his claim for three reasons: (1) sovereign immunity bars the claim, (2) he has not alleged the violation of a specific constitutional right, and (3) a Bivens claim does not lie against federal agencies. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, ECF No. 9-1 at 5-8. To the extent Brown seeks to bring an FTCA claim, Defendants cite six reasons why the Court should dismiss his claim: (1) he failed to exhaust administrative remedies before bringing this action; (2) an FTCA claim does not lie against federal agencies; (3) punitive damages are barred; (4) any constitutional tort claim or claim arising from Defendants' alleged violation of 28 C.F.R. § 2.35(a) is not cognizable; (5) any claims of false imprisonment and abuse of process are not cognizable; and (6) he has failed to state a negligence claim under the FTCA. ECF No. 9-1 at 9-16. Defendants admit that Brown's term of supervision was extended past the July 2015 expiration date. ECF No. 9-1 at 3-4.

         In Opposition, Brown also suggests that Defendants violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution, art. I, § 9, cl. 3, when they increased his release date from July 2015 to July 2016, which he claims was in direct violation of 28 C.F.R. § 2.200. He also claims that Defendants placed him in compulsory service, creating a “climate of fear, and threats of legal coercion” and violating the Thirteenth Amendment. ECF No. 11 at 3.

         II. STANDARD OF LAW

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) should be granted if the allegations in a complaint do not “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A party may move for dismissal pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) where the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the claims alleged in the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Federal courts are courts of limited subject matter jurisdiction: they “possess only the jurisdiction authorized them by the United States Constitution and by federal statute.” See United States ex rel. Vuyyuru v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 347 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing Bowles v. Russell, 551 U.S. 205, 127 S.Ct. 2360, 2365, 168 L.Ed.2d 96 (2007)). As the party asserting jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the district court has subject matter jurisdiction. See Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). When a governmental entity is sued and Congress has not waived sovereign immunity as to the claim, sovereign immunity deprives the court of jurisdiction to hear the case. See Global Mail Ltd. v. United States Postal Serv., 142 F.3d 208, 210 (4th Cir.1998). When a district court determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over an action, it must dismiss the action. Vuyyuru, 555 F.3d at 347 (citing Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 506-07, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163 L.Ed.2d 1097 (2006)).

         II. ...


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