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Hector Santiago v. United States of America

December 12, 2012

HECTOR SANTIAGO, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Joseph H. Rodriguez

OPINION

Presently before the Court is the Petition [1] for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Hector Santiago ("Santiago"), an inmate incarcerated at FCI Fairton in New Jersey, to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and the government's motion to dismiss the petition [5]. The Court has considered the written submissions of the parties without oral argument. For the reasons expressed below, the Petition will be dismissed.

I. Background

Hector Santiago plead guilty to a one count Information, which charged him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 on July 9, 2008. Following sentencing, Santiago successfully challenged his attorney as ineffective for failing to file a direct appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. A direct appeal was permitted which resulted in a new sentencing hearing for Santiago; Santiago was re-sentenced on April 21, 2010 to a term of imprisonment of 84 months, followed by a three-year term of supervised release and a fine.

On August 24, 2011, Santiago filed a second Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") decision denying him credit towards his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b) for the 13 months he was on bail.*fn1 Alternatively, Santiago argued that without credit for his time on bail, his guilty plea was unconstitutional since he was not advised that the 13 months on bail would not be credited toward his sentence. This Court dismissed the Petition because the BOP did not abuse its discretion in denying Santiago's request. Since § 2241 does not confer this Court with jurisdiction over Santiago's guilty plea, Santiago was given permission to re-characterize his Petition as a motion to vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

On October 12, 2011, Santiago submitted a document stating that he wanted this Court to reconsider the dismissal of his § 2241 challenge to the BOP's denial of credit for the time he spent on bail. This Court granted that motion but dismissed the claim again because it was procedurally improper.*fn2 Then, on November 2, 2011, Santiago filed a motion to re-characterize the challenge as a motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. That motion is now before the Court.

The Government moves to dismiss the petition for two reasons. First, the Government argues that the Petition is untimely because it was filed beyond the one year statute of limitations period promulgated by 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f) and Petitioner is not entitled to have the limitations period equitably tolled. Second, and alternatively, the Government contends that no Rule 11 violation occurred because Petitioner's bail placed him in a halfway house, which is not considered "official detention" and does not qualify for sentencing credit under 28 U.S.C. §3585. As a result, Petitioner's attorney was not ineffective for failing to advise him that he would not receive credit or for failing to argue to the Court that Santiago should receive credit. In addition, The Court did not violate Rule 11 because Santiago was properly advised of his maximum sentence exposure during the plea hearing.

II. Standards of Review

A. Statute of Limitations

A one year statute of limitations applies to claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). The limitations period runs from the latest of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;

(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;

(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or

(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through ...


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