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Jenkins v. Stewart

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 29, 2018

SHAEEN C. JENKINS, Petitioner
v.
TIMOTHY STEWART, WARDEN, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending is Shaeen Jenkins' Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the Bureau of Prisons' (BOP's) determination that he did not qualify for early release under the BOP's Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) because his crime of conviction involved the use of violence. ECF No. 1. Petitioner subsequently filed a supplement to his Petition and a Motion to Appoint Counsel. ECF Nos. 4, 5. Counsel for Respondent has filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, For Summary Judgment. ECF No. 9. Respondent's Motion shall be reviewed as one for summary judgment. Although advised of his right to do so, ECF No. 10, Petitioner did not respond to Respondent's dispositive Motion and the time for doing so has expired.

         After review of these filings, the Court finds no need for an evidentiary hearing. See Rules 1(b), 8(a), Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts and Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, Petitioner's Motion to Appoint Counsel shall be DENIED, Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be GRANTED, and the Petition shall be DENIED AND DISMISSED.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2015, Petitioner was convicted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont on the charge of possession of cocaine base with the intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and he was sentenced to 64 months imprisonment. ECF No. 1 at 1; ECF No. 9-1 at 2-3. Petitioner is presently an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, and has a projected release date of June 7. 2019. ECF No. 1 at 1; ECF No. 9-1 at 3.

         In this action, Petitioner challenges the BOP's determination that he is ineligible for early release under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e) because his conviction involved the use of violence. ECF No. 1 at 6-8. Petitioner disputed the BOP's determination via an informal resolution request, a formal request for administrative remedy, a regional administrative remedy appeal, and a central office administrative remedy appeal. ECF No. 1-2 at 3-4, 6, 8. His argument was rejected at each step. Id. at 3, 5, 7, 9.

         Between his § 2241 Petition and Supplement, Petitioner presents six grounds for relief, which can be grouped into the following claims: (1) his constitutional rights are being violated because he is presently "illegally incarcerated" (ECF No. 1 at 8); (2) the BOP's determination that he committed a violent act in connection with the offense of conviction is incorrect, inconsistent with the record, and not in compliance with federal regulations (ECF No. 1 at 6-8); and (3) challenges to the content of his presentence report, his underlying arrest, and counsel's effectiveness (ECF No. 1 at 7; ECF No. 4 at 1-2). In his request for relief, Petitioner states that he wants the Court to "credit early release of one year for the completion of the R-dap program. Pre-sentencing report to be corrected to reflect that 'no violence' occur."[1] ECF No. 1 at 8.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Respondent's dispositive Motion is styled as a Motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. A motion styled in this manner implicates the court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dep't, Inc. v. Montgomery Cnty., 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011). Ordinarily, a court "is not to consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion to dismiss." Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the court does so, "the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56," and "[a] 11 parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the movant expressly captions its motion "in the alternative" as one for summary judgment and submits matters outside the pleadings for the court's consideration, the parties are deemed to be on notice that conversion under Rule 12(d) may occur; the court "does not have an obligation to notify parties of the obvious." Laughlin v. Metro. Wash. Airports Auth, 149 F.3d 253, 261 (4th Cir. 1998). Because both parties have filed and relied on declarations and exhibits, the Motion shall be treated as one for summary judgment.

         Summary judgment is appropriate only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Rule 56(c) 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). "Only 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(e). Further, complaints filed by a pro se litigant are liberally construed to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. See Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319 (1972).

         ANALYSIS

         A. RDAP Background

         Petitioner brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, the federal habeas statute which allows a prisoner to file suit against the BOP for "a violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); Rose v. Hodges,423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975). The pertinent federal statute in Petitioner's case, 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), authorizes the BOP to implement drug abuse treatment programs such as the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program ("RDAP") and permits possible early release upon successful RDAP completion. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B) (participant's prison term "may be ...


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