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Samuel Acevedo Muniz v. Donna Zickefoose

September 30, 2011

SAMUEL ACEVEDO MUNIZ, PETITIONER,
v.
DONNA ZICKEFOOSE, RESPONDENT. SAMUEL ACEVEDO MUNIZ, PETITIONER,
v.
DONNA ZICKEFOOSE, APPLIES TO BOTH ACTIONS
RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert B. Kugler, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This pair of matters, both of which ensued from the same pleading and involved a motion that followed it, have already enjoyed a substantial number of procedural twist and turns, and they now come before the Court upon Petitioner's additional motion, seeking reconsideration of this Court's prior determination, and it appearing that:

1. On May 13, 2010, Petitioner, a federal prisoner confined at the F.C.I. Fort Dix, filed a § 2241 petition ("Petition"). See Docket Entry No. 1. The Petition arrived together with Petitioner's duly executed in forma pauperis ("IFP") application. See Muniz v. Zickefoose ("Muniz-I"), Civ. Action. No. 10-2444 (RBK) (D.N.J.), Docket Entry No. 1-2. In light of that IFP application, Petitioner was granted IFP status for the purposes of his Muniz-I action. The allegations stated in the Petition challenged the calculation of Petitioner's period of federal confinement. See id. Docket Entry No. 1. The allegations indicated that Petitioner was seeking to shorten the term of his federal confinement by the period from June 9, 1999 (the date of his arrest) to July 11, 2001, which represented the time Petitioner spent in state custody prior to commencement of his federal confinement, and which period was, allegedly, used by Petitioner's federal sentencing judge in order to adjust Petitioner's sentence downward, pursuant to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 5G1.3.*fn1 See id. The Petition asserted that this line of challenges was duly exhausted administratively. See id. The Court, therefore, directed Respondent to answer the Petition. See Docket Entry No. 2.

2. Respondent moved for extension of time to answer since, at that point in time, the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") was, apparently, already in the process of recalculating Petitioner's federal sentence by factoring in the downward adjustment ordered by his federal sentencing judge. See id., Docket Entries Nos. 4, 5 and 6. In other words, it was appearing that the BOP was about to grant Petitioner the very relief Petitioner was requesting in his Muniz-I matter. See id.

3. On January 25, 2011, Respondent moved this Court for dismissal of this matter as moot on the grounds that Petitioner's federal sentence was, in fact, recalculated by the BOP in accordance with the downward adjustment ordered by Petitioner's federal sentencing judge. See id., Docket Entry No. 6. After examining the documents attached to Respondent's motion, the Court found Respondent's position well-merited and, correspondingly, dismissed the Petition as moot; the Court's prior order (directing Respondent's filing of an answer) was, accordingly, vacated as superfluous. See id., Docket Entries Nos. 7 and 8. That development took place on January 25, 2011, and Petitioner's Muniz-I action was terminated shortly thereafter. See id.

4. On February 9, 2011, Petitioner filed, in his Muniz-I, a new submission; it was titled "Informative Motion & Request for Determination" ("Motion-I"). See id., Docket Entry No. 9. In his Motion-I, Petitioner asserted that, although he had his federal period of confinement recalculated to a shorter term (which reflected the downward adjustment ordered by his federal sentencing judge pursuant to § 5G1.3), Petitioner now wished to seek another recalculation. See id. Specifically, Petitioner wished: (a) to retain the larger amount of good-conduct-time ("GCT") credits that were applicable to his federal sentence before it was recalculated to a shorter term; and (b) to have this larger amount of CGT credits applied to Petitioner's now-shorter, recalculated, sentence (which entitled Petitioner to a smaller amount of GCT credits corresponding to that new, shorter period).*fn2 See id. See id. Respondent filed an opposition to Petitioner's Motion-I arguing that this new line of Petitioner's challenges (asserting that he was entitled to keep his old amount of GCT credits applicable to his old longer federal sentence, while serving the now-recalculated shorter federal sentence) was wholly unexhausted. See id., Docket Entry No. 10. In addition, Respondent noted, in passing, that a number of federal courts found this type of GCT challenges without merit. See id. Petitioner traversed to Respondent's opposition. See Docket Entry No. 11.*fn3 In addition, Petitioner's traverse indicated his position that: (a) his newly-minted GCT challenges should be deemed duly exhausted because Petitioner believes that these challenges were "somewhat implied" in his administrative applications requesting recalculation of his period of federal prison term in accordance with the downward adjustment ordered by his federal sentencing judge;*fn4 and (b) his newly-minted GCT challenges should be resolved in the Muniz-I action. See id.

5. This Court disagreed with Petitioner's position. See id., Docket Entry No. 13. The Court's decision to that effect was lengthy and detailed, see id., and another recital of the same appears unwarranted in this Memorandum Opinion and Order. Therefore, it should suffice to state merely that the Court pointed out that:

a. Petitioner's newly-minted GCT challenges were based on a wholly different factual predicate than his original Petition, see id. at 11 (pointing out that "Petitioner's GCT challenges are qualitatively different from his initial claim and are based on the factual predicate distinct from the one alleged in the Petition (i.e., the Motion asserts that, after the BOP adjusted Petitioner's period of federal confinement by factoring in the downgrading granted to Petitioner by his federal sentencing judge under § 5G1.3, the BOP unduly recalculated Petitioner's GCT credits down; in contrast, the Petition that gave rise to this matter was maintaining that the BOP was refusing to factor See Muniz-I, Docket Entry No. 1-1, at 10 (indicating that Petitioner raised Barden challenges before his warden and the Regional Office of the BOP and obliviously mentioned the issue of downward adjustment only during his appeal to the Central Office from the denial of Barden credit by the BOP Regional Office).into Petitioner's period of federal confinement the downgrading granted to Petitioner by his federal sentencing judge under § 5G1.3)") (emphasis in original);

b. Procedurally, Petitioner could not raise his newly-minted GCT challenges in Muniz-I by stating these new challenges in his Motion-I or in his traverse, see id. at 11-12;

c. Petitioner's newly-minted GCT challenges were subject to dismissal, without prejudice, as unexhausted.*fn5 See id. at 5-11.

6. Therefore, the Court directed the Clerk to open a new civil matter for Petitioner, Muniz v. Zickefoose ("Muniz-II"), Civil Action No. 11-4200 (RBK). The Court directed the Clerk to file Petitioner's Motion-I in Muniz-II, qualifying it as Petitioner's new pleading asserting his newly-minted GCT challenges. See Muniz-II, Docket Entries Nos. 1 and 2.

In light of this Court's grant of IFP status to Petitioner for the purposes of Muniz-I, Petitioner's IFP status was continued to Muniz-II and no collection of filing fee was ordered. See id., Docket Entry No. 2. In addition, out of abundance of caution, the Court informed Petitioner that, if Petitioner did actually exhaust his GCT challenges before all three levels of the BOP, Petitioner should notify this Court accordingly, and -- if so notified -- the Court would:

(a) direct the Clerk to reopen Muniz-II; (b) order Respondent to answer this new line of Petitioner's challenges; and (c) resolve Petitioner's newly-minted GCT-credit-based challenges on merits. See id.

7. In response, Petitioner filed, first, his: (a) appeal as to Muniz-I and Muniz-II; and, then, (b) Petitioner's motion for reconsideration ("Motion-II") currently before this Court. See, e.g., Muniz-II, Docket Entries Nos. 5-8.*fn6 In his Motion-II, Petitioner verified that his newly-minted GCT challenges were wholly unexhausted; ...


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