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Brightwell v. Warden Maryland Correctional Institution-Jessup

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 1, 2019

DAVID BRIGHTWELL, Petitioner
v.
WARDEN MARYLAND CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION-JESSUP, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         David Brightwell, a State prisoner presently incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup ("MCI-J"), filed this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the computation of his sentences. ECF 1. Respondent seeks to dismiss the Petition on the basis that Brightwell failed to exhaust his claim in state court prior to instituting this case. In the alternative, Respondent seeks dismissal because Brightwell's claims are procedurally defaulted. ECF 7. Brightwell has replied. ECF 9. For the reasons to follow, the Petition will be DENIED and DISMISSED without prejudice.

         Background

          Brightwell indicates that in 1998 a jury convened in the Circuit Court for Somerset County convicted him of armed robbery and the use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence.. ECF 1 at p. 8; State v. Brightwell, Nos. 97-CR-04909 and 97-CR-4910, Circuit Court for Montgomery County. At sentencing, Brightwell claims that the Honorable Thomas C. Groton, III stated:

For that reason what I'm going to do in case 97-CR-04909, as to Count number one, the armed robbery, I'm going to sentence you to twenty years in the Division of Correction. Likewise in case 97-CR-04909, I'm going to sentence you on count number six, the handgun violation, use of handgun in the commission of a crime of violence to ten years in the Division of Correction.

Id.; see also ECF 1-2, p. 2. All other sentences in No. 97-CR-04909 merged. Id. At that same proceeding, Brightwell was sentenced in No. 97-CR-04910. Brightwell states that as to that case, Judge Groton stated:

In 97-CR-04910 as to count number one, the armed robbery, I'm going to sentence you to twenty years in the Division of Correction. I'm going to make that consecutive to the sentence that was imposed in 04909.
Likewise as to the remaining counts under the same procedure I followed in 909 I'm going to merge for the purpose [ofj sentencing the remaining counts.
So what you have, Mr. Brightwell is twenty years on an armed robbery, an additional ten years on the handgun violation. The second case you'll have an additional twenty years. They are consecutive to each other. So that's makes a total of fifty years that you have in the Division of Correction.

ECF1, p. 8; ECF 1-2, p. 2-3.

         At the conclusion of his sentencing, Judge Groton stated that the sentences were to run "from the time he was picked up and placed in jail." ECF 1, p. 9; ECF 1 -2, p. 3. Brightwell argues that this statement created an ambiguity as to whether the sentencing judge "had retracted the consecutive provisions imposed. .. .and directed that each sentence begin January 6, 1997." Id., p. 10. Brightwell contends that the Division of Corrections ("DOC") personnel have failed to . properly calculate both his sentences as running concurrently from January 6, 1997. ECF 1.

         Brightwell filed an administrative remedy regarding the calculation of his sentence and appealed the denial of the grievance through each stage of the grievance process, including to the Inmate Grievance Office. ECF 1, p. 15-19. His remedy requests were denied. Id.

         He then filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the calculation of his sentence by the DOC with the Circuit Court for Somerset County, Case Number 19-C-09-013294.[1] ECF 1, p. 5; ECF 7-2; ECF 7-4. The petition was dismissed and Brightwell noted an appeal. ECF 7-4, pp. 4-5. Subsequently, Brightwell voluntarily dismissed the appeal. ECF 7-4, p. 6; ECF 7-5; ECF 7-6. In dismissing the appeal, Brightwell referenced a second petition for writ of habeas corpus which was then pending in the Circuit Court for Somerset County, No. 19-C-10-014160. ECF 7-5, p. 1. This second petition was denied by the Circuit Court for Somerset ...


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