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Bell v. Warden of Fairton F.C.I.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 10, 2019

DARRELL BELL, Petitioner,
WARDEN OF FAIRTON, F.C.I., Respondent.



         This matter comes before the Court upon Petitioner Darrell Bell's submission of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Pet., ECF No. 1), challenging the Bureau of Prison's (“BOP”) calculation of his sentence. Respondent filed an answer in opposition to the petition (Answer, ECF No. 6) and Petitioner filed a reply (Reply, ECF No. 7.) For the reasons discussed below, the habeas petition is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner is a federal prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, New Jersey. (“FCI-Fairton”). (Pet., ECF No. 1, ¶2.) Petitioner was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats with intent to terrorize another, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and resisting arrest in Philadelphia, PA on June 8, 2010, No. CP-51-CR-0009879-2010. (Declaration of Bryan Erickson[1] (“Erickson Decl.”), Attach. D, ECF No. 6-2 at 6.) On July 21, 2010, Petitioner was indicted in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (“District Court, ” No. 2:10-CR-000454-001, for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). (Id., Attach. A, ECF No. 6-2 at 6.) Shortly thereafter, the District Court issued a federal writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum to borrow Petitioner from state custody for proceedings in his federal case. (Id., Attach. B, ECF No. 6-2 at 10-11.)

         On June 16, 2011, Petitioner was sentenced in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, No. CP-51-CR-0009879-2010, to a 58-month to 116-month term of imprisonment. (Id., Attach. D ECF Nos. 6-2 at 14-17; Attach. E at 6-2 at 30-32.) The state court ordered credit for time served from June 8, 2010 through June 16, 2011. (Id., Attach. D & E.) Subsequently, on December 6, 2011, Petitioner was sentenced in the District Court, Case Number 2:10-CR-000454-001, to a 37-month term of imprisonment. (Id., Attach. F, ECF No. 6-2 at 34-39.) The District Court ordered the federal sentence to run consecutively to the sentence imposed in state court in Case Number CP-51-CR-0009879-2010. (Erickson Decl., Attach. F, ECF No. 6-2 at 34-39.) On December 21, 2011, the federal authorities returned Petitioner to Pennsylvania authorities and placed a detainer on Petitioner for his federal criminal conviction. (Erickson Decl., Attach. C, ECF No. 6-2 at 10; Ex. G, ECF No. 6-2 at 41.)

         On March 30, 2012, while Petitioner was serving his Pennsylvania sentence in No. CP-51-CR-0009879-2010, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania revoked his probation in another Pennsylvania criminal case, No. CP-51-CR-0904831-2001. (Id., Attach. E, ECF No. 6-2 at 30.) The Court of Common Pleas sentenced Petitioner in No. CP-51-CR-0904831-2001 to a one-to-two-year term of imprisonment, to run consecutively with No. CP-51-CR-0009879-2010. (Id. at 30-32.)

         Petitioner finished serving his Pennsylvania sentences on July 14, 2016, and despite the federal detainer, state authorities released him into the community. (Id., Attach. H, ECF No. 6-2 at 43.) On February 13, 2017, the District Court issued an Order and Arrest Warrant in No. 2:10-CR-000454-001 for Petitioner to serve his federal sentence. (Id., Attach. I, ECF No. 6-2 at 45-46.) Petitioner was arrested and detained by federal authorities on February 14, 2017 and designated to FCI Fairton on March 13, 2017. (Id., Attach. H, ECF No. 6-2 at 46; Attach. J, ECF No. 6-2 at 49.)

         The BOP prepared Petitioner's sentence computation. (Id., Attach. J, ECF No. 6-2 at 48-50.) The BOP commenced Petitioner's 37-month federal sentence on February 14, 2017, the day he was apprehended by federal authorities. (Erickson Decl., Attach. J, ECF No. 6-2 at 48-50.)[2] Petitioner was not given any prior custody credit against his federal sentence because his pretrial custody from June 8, 2010 through June 16, 2011 was applied to his Pennsylvania sentence in No. 51-CR-0009879-2010.[3] (Id. at 50.) Petitioner sought credit against his federal sentence for his time at liberty, and he exhausted his administrative remedies with the BOP for this claim. (Declaration of Ondreya Barksdale[4] (“Barksdale Decl.”), ECF No. 6-1 at 1-14.) II. DISCUSSION A. The Parties' Arguments Petitioner stated his habeas claim as follows:

Pursuant to White v. Perlman, 42 F.3d 788, 789 (10th Cir. 1930) and its progenies, I am to be granted credit for the 7 months I was at liberty. I was released from state custody on July 14 of 2016. I was on state parole supervision until February 14, 2017, when federal marshals arrested me for my federal sentence. My release from state custody was not a result of any contributing fault on my behalf.

(Pet., ECF No. 1, ¶13.)

         Respondent asserts that under Third Circuit precedent, Vega v. United States, 493 F.3d 310 (3d Cir. 2007), Petitioner is not entitled to credit for his time at liberty because (1) he was not in custody during the time he was at liberty; and (2) federal authorities were not negligent. (Answer, ECF No. 6 at 7.)

         Respondent asserts federal authorities were not negligent because they properly (1) placed the federal criminal Judgment against Petitioner as a detainer; (2) prepared a U.S. Marshals Detainer on December 14, 2011 and submitted it to the proper Pennsylvania authorities; and (3) obtained a receipt of the detainer by Pennsylvania on December 11, 2011. (Erickson Decl., ECF No. 6-2.)

         Respondents contend it is irrelevant that state authorities were negligent in releasing Petitioner, and as a matter of law his federal sentence did not commence until he was apprehended on February 14, 2017. (Answer, ECF No. 6 at 10.)

         In reply, Petitioner suggests that federal authorities were partially at fault for his early release. (Id. at 4.) He explains:

Petitioner asks that this Court take note of the December 14, 2011 detainer. This detainer was given to a Ms. Cookie Burnstine, an employee of Curran Fromhold County (C.F.C.F) Jail. It must be remembered that on June 16, 2011, Petitioner received a sentence from the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, which even the Respondent acknowledges. Petitioner asserts this is where Respondent must take partial responsibility for their error.
Here is why: On December 6, 2011, Petitioner was sentenced in the U.S. District Court, and then on December 21, 2011, the imprisoning sovereign (federal) returned Petitioner to Pennsylvania authorities, having full knowledge that Petitioner was sentenced to a state, not county, sentence on June 16, 2011, but nevertheless, they allowed a county facility (C.F.C.F.) that was and could have been, acting as an agent for the imprisoning sovereign to notify them of Petitioner's release, but never notified or sent the December 14, 2011 Detainer to the proper state authorities at any of the state correctional ...

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