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Blake v. Stewart

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 11, 2019




         Reuben Carson Blake, an inmate incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland (“Cumberland”), has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Blake challenges the Federal Bureau of Prison's (“BOP”) computation of his sentence and alleges that his criminal defense attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel. ECF No. 1. As relief, Blake asks that he be awarded 21 months and seven days prior custody credit.

         Respondent Warden Timothy Stewart moves to dismiss the Petition, or alternatively for summary judgment. ECF No. 9. Although this Court advised Blake of his right to respond to Stewart's motion (ECF No. 11), Blake has not done so. The Court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 because a hearing is not necessary. For the follow reasons, the motion is granted.

         I. Background

         On October 4, 2010, Blake was arrested and charged in Virginia state court with assault and trespass in Waynesboro, Virginia, as well as eluding police and possession with intent to distribute marijuana in Staunton, Virginia. ECF No. 9-2, p. 3, ¶ 4 (Martin Decl.); ECF No. 9-2, pp. 12-22. Blake also had an outstanding warrant for breaking and entering, destruction of property, and grand larceny, in Augusta County Virginia. Id. On November 5, 2010, the Waynesboro General District Court sentenced Blake to 30 days of confinement for the assault and trespass charges. ECF No. 9-2, p. 3, ¶ 5, p. 24. On March 23, 2011, Blake received one and a half years of confinement for eluding police and possessing with intent to distribute marijuana in the Augusta County Circuit Court, with credit for time spent in state custody from September 11, 2009 through February 26, 2010, and from October 4, 2010 through January 25, 2012. ECF No. 9-2, p. 3, ¶ 6; ECF No. 9-2, p. 24.

         After Blake was released from the above prison sentences, Blake's probation was revoked in the Staunton criminal matter and he was sentenced to an additional six months of confinement for the violation. ECF No. 9-2, ¶ 7; ECF No. 9-2, p. 24. Blake completed this state sentence on January 25, 2012. ECF No. 9-2, ¶ 8. On April 30, 2013, the Augusta County Circuit Court next revoked his probation and sentenced him to one year of confinement, with credit for time spent in pretrial detention on this violation. ECF No. 9-2, p. 4, ¶ 9, p. 27. As directed, Blake reported to the Middle River Regional Jail on May 7, 2013 to begin serving the Augusta county sentence. Id. ¶¶ 9-10, p. 28. On July 10, 2013, the Augusta County Circuit Court also revoked a separate probationary sentence and imposed three months' confinement with credit for time spent in detention pending his hearing. Id. ¶ 11.

         On March 24, 2014, while Blake was in primary state custody, the United States Marshals transported him to federal custody pursuant to writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. ECF No. 9-2, ¶ 12. On May 12, 2014, Blake was paroled for his state sentences and thus, as of that date, was released from state custody into primary federal custody where he remained detained pending the resolution of his federal case. ECF No. 9-2, ¶ 13; ECF No. 9-2, p. 36.

         On February 24, 2015, Blake was sentenced to 120 months custody of the Bureau of Prisons in the federal case. ECF No. 9-2, p. 5 ¶ 14, pp. 38-43. The BOP computed Blake's 120- month sentence to begin on February 24, 2015, the date his federal sentence was imposed, with credit for the time spending in primary federal detention from May 13, 2014 (the day after he completed his state sentence) to February 23, 2015 (the day before his federal sentence commenced). ECF No. 9-2, p. 6, ¶¶ 16, 18. Blake did not receive any other credit toward his federal sentence because the BOP determined that all other time was otherwise credited toward another state sentence. Id. ¶¶ 15, 17. Further, because the federal court did not expressly state that the federal sentence was to run concurrently with any other previously imposed state sentence, the BOP construed the federal sentence as one to be served consecutively to any other sentence. Id., ¶ 15; ECF No. 9-2, pp. 38-43. BOP thus calculated Blake's release date to be June 14, 2023, with credit for good conduct time. ECF No. 9-2, ¶ 18; ECF No. 9-2, pp. 49, 73, 74.

         While at Cumberland, Blake filed two administrative complaints regarding BOP's calculation of his confinement term. ECF No. 9-3, ¶ 7 (Williams Decl.); ECF No. 9-2, p. 52. Both were denied. Blake appealed only one of the two complaints to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office on November 13, 2018. Id., ¶ 8. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Office denied the appeal on December 13, 2018. Id. Blake took no further appeal. Id.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply to federal habeas corpus proceedings to the extent the Rules do not conflict with any statutory provisions or the rules governing habeas corpus proceedings. See R. 12, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases.[1] Dismissal of the Petition may be warranted where it is clear from the face of the Petition and attachments that Petitioner is not entitled to relief. Id. at Rule 4.

         Alternatively, if the Court considers evidence beyond the Petition, summary judgment may may be granted when the moving party demonstrates that “no genuine dispute as to any material fact” exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see also Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 585-86 (2009); Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013). A mere “scintilla of evidence” suggesting a material dispute cannot defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Rather, the record evidence must demonstrate that a reasonable trier of fact could find in favor of the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec Indus Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). When reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see also In re Family Dollar FLSA Litig., 637 F.3d 508, 512 (4th Cir. 2011).

         III. Analysis

         Blake challenges the BOP's sentencing computation. However, because Blake has failed to exhaust administrative remedies, the Petition must be dismissed. It is well-established that a petitioner seeking judicial review of agency actions must first have exhausted available remedies within the agency prior to filing suit. See McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185, 193-95 (1969). “The basic purpose of the exhaustion doctrine is to allow an administrative agency to perform functions within its special competence, ” that is, “to make a factual record, to apply its expertise, and to correct its own errors so as to moot judicial controversies.” Parisi v. Davidson, 405 U.S. 34, 37 (1972). Petitioners seeking relief under § 2241 are subject to this exhaustion requirement. See Branden v. 30 Judicial Cir. Ct., 410 U.S. 484, 489-92 (1973); McClung v. Shearin, 90 Fed.Appx. 444, 445 (4th Cir. 2004) (Petitioner must ...

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