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Kitchen v. Grondolsky

United States District Court, Third Circuit

December 4, 2013

JAMES MICHAEL KITCHEN, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFF GRONDOLSKY, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOSEPH H. RODRIGUEZ, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss [36] filed by Defendants. Oral argument on the motion was heard October 28, 2013, and the record of that proceeding is incorporated here. The motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

Background

On January 31, 2006, Plaintiff James Michael Kitchen was sentenced to sixtythree months imprisonment by the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The Federal Bureau of Prisons determined that the Plaintiff was to be incarcerated at Fort Dix Federal Correction Institution, in Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Some time thereafter, Plaintiff testified as a witness for the prosecution in a federal trial. As a result of his cooperation, on June 15, 2007, the United States filed a Rule 35(b) Motion with the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia requesting that the Plaintiff's sentence be reduced. On or about February 1, 2008, the sentencing judge reduced Plaintiff's sentence to forty-two months, with credit for time served and otherwise leaving the original judgment in full force and effect. The Judge's Order specified, "The Clerk is directed to forward copies of this order to the defendant, all counsel of record, the United States Probation Department, and the United States Marshal." United States v. Kitchen, Criminal Action No. 2:05-00156, Document 43 (S.D.W.V. Feb. 1, 2008); Harvey Decl., ¶ 3, Ex. A.

The February 1, 2008 Order was stamped "Received" by the U.S. Marshal, Charleston, West Virginia on February 1, 2008 at 4:45 p.m. Harvey Decl., ¶ 4, Ex. B. Similarly, the February 1, 2008 Order was received by the United States Probation Department, scanned and uploaded into a Probation database, and electronically submitted to the United States Marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia on or about February 5, 2008. Harvey Decl., ¶ 13, Ex. J.

On March 23, 2010, Plaintiff requested a transcript of proceedings from his resentencing, at which he was represented by counsel but not present, and on April 2, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and a Motion to Appoint Counsel in the District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.[1] In what his counsel characterized as "an emergency petition, " United States v. Kitchen, Criminal Action No. 2:05-00156, Document 57 (S.D.W.V. Aug. 17, 2010), Plaintiff alleged that he had been wrongfully incarcerated for the previous fourteen months. Plaintiff was released from custody on April 7, 2010, and a probation officer was appointed to oversee his supervised release. United States v. Kitchen, Criminal Action No. 2:05-00156, Document 59 (S.D.W.V. Sept. 30, 2010); Moran Decl., ¶ 2, Ex. 1.

In its August 10, 2010 Response to the Plaintiff's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, the United States admitted that the Plaintiff "was imprisoned beyond his lawful release date." United States v. Kitchen, Criminal Action No. 2:05-00156, Document 56 (S.D.W.V. Aug. 10, 2010). The Government also acknowledged, "[Plaintiff's] 42-month sentence of imprisonment, calculated from the original sentencing date of January 31, 2006, while giving credit for 157 days of prior custody and approximately 164 days of good conduct time, yields a release date in September 2008. Kitchen, however, continued to be incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution, Fort Dix, New Jersey, past September 2008 and into 2010. He was not released by the Bureau of Prisons until April 7, 2010, when he began serving his three-year term of supervised release in Charleston, West Virginia." Id.

On September 30, 2010, Plaintiff's sentencing judge dismissed Plaintiff's habeas corpus Petition as moot, stating:

The court contacted the United States Marshal's office and, upon investigation, it was learned that the defendant was indeed eligible for release. The defendant was released from prison on April 7, 2010. The defendant also requested in his petition that the court assign a probation officer to his case, place the defendant in a halfway house, reduce his term of supervised release and cancel the remainder of the $1, 000 fine imposed as equitable relief for the harms he suffered by loss of his liberty.
On August 10, 2010, the government filed the United States Response to James Michael Kitchen's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, by its counsel, Philip H. Wright, Assistant United States Attorney, stating that the petition should be dismissed inasmuch as the defendant was released from prison on April 7, 2010, that any monetary relief that may be due the defendant because of excess prison time, including his request that the fine be cancelled, should be determined pursuant to an administrative tort proceeding and suggesting that the defendant may seek to modify, reduce or request early termination of his term of supervised release.
On August 17, 2010, the defendant filed Petitioner's Reply to the United States' Response to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, wherein he informs the court that since his release from incarceration a probation officer has been appointed to oversee his supervised release, fulfilling his request for immediate release and aid in rejoining society. The defendant also informs the court that, regarding the other issues raised in the petition, he is represented by other counsel and that a federal tort claim has been filed (administratively, according to the government) on his behalf.

United States v. Kitchen, Criminal Action No. 2:05-00156, Document 59 (S.D.W.V. Sept. 30, 2010).

On or about July 16, 2010, Plaintiff had filed an administrative tort claim, form SF-95 entitled "Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death, " with the Northeast Regional Office of the Federal Bureau of Prisons alleging that he had served 595 days "unnecessarily in the custody of the United States, " and seeking $1.5 million in damages. Moran Decl., ¶ 3, Ex. 2. The BOP denied Plaintiff's claim by letter dated January 11, 2011, stating "[a]fter careful review of this claim, and in consultation with the United States Marshal ...


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