United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Beckley Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A. EIFERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
September 6, 2016, Petitioner Robert Odom
(“Petitioner”), proceeding pro se, filed
a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. (ECF No. 1). This matter is assigned to the
Honorable Irene C. Berger, United States District Judge, and
by Standing Order has been referred to the undersigned United
States Magistrate Judge for the submission of proposed
findings of fact and recommendations for disposition pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Currently pending is
Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Petition. (ECF No. 11).
Because Petitioner's release from custody renders his
petition moot, the undersigned respectfully
RECOMMENDS that the presiding District Judge
GRANT the Motion to Dismiss;
DISMISS the Petition for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus; and remove this matter from the docket of the Court.
time Petitioner filed this action, he was incarcerated at the
Federal Correctional Institution located in Beckley, West
Virginia, serving a sentence imposed by the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (ECF
No. 1 at 1). In his petition seeking habeas relief,
Petitioner complained that his federal sentence was
incorrectly calculated, because it did not provide him with
credit for time he served in a state correctional facility.
(Id. at 8-10). He asked that his sentence be
recalculated to account for that time.
September 16, 2016, after receiving Petitioner's filing
fee, the undersigned ordered the Respondent to show cause why
the relief requested should not be granted. (ECF No. 5).
Respondent filed a response to the show cause order on
November 2, 2016, arguing that Petitioner was not entitled to
any credit for the time he served in state custody on a state
sentence. (ECF No. 8). The following day, the Court entered
an Order allowing Petitioner sixty days to file a memorandum
in opposition to the Respondent's argument. (ECF No. 9).
Petitioner filed a memorandum reasserting his arguments and
asking the Court to credit time against his sentence.
January 9, 2018, Respondent filed the pending Motion to
Dismiss. (ECF No. 11). Respondent supplies an affidavit
signed by Sharon Wahl, a paralegal with FCI Beckley
Consolidated Legal Center. (Id. at 6). Ms. Wahl
verifies that Petitioner was transferred from FCI Beckley to
a Residential Reentry Center on June 5, 2017, and was
subsequently released from the Federal Bureau of Prison's
custody on December 4, 2017. Petitioner has left no
forwarding address with the Clerk of Court.
well-settled that a prisoner must be in custody at the time
he brings a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Leonard
v. Hammond, 804 F.2d 838, 842 (4th Cir. 1986). Although
his subsequent release will not deprive the court of subject
matter jurisdiction, “[t]he question of mootness is
separate and distinct from the jurisdictional issue.”
Id. “To be justiciable under Article III of
the Constitution, a conflict between litigants must present a
‘case or controversy' both at the time the action
is filed and at the time it is decided. If intervening
factual ... events effectively dispel the case or controversy
during pendency of the suit, the federal courts are powerless
to decide the questions presented.” Ross v.
Reed, 719 F.2d. 689, 693-94 (4th Cir. 1983); see
also Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona,
520 U.S. 43, 68 n.22 (1997) (“The requisite personal
interest that must exist at the commencement of the
litigation ... must continue throughout its existence”)
(citations omitted). “Simply stated, a case is moot
when the issues presented are no longer ‘live' or
the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the
outcome.” Powell v. McCormack, 395
U.S. 486, 496 (1969). Therefore, when a federal prisoner
files a habeas corpus petition seeking relief from a
sentence, his release from custody may render the petition
are two exceptions to the mootness doctrine.
Leonard, 804 F.2d at 842. First, under the
“collateral consequences” exception, a habeas
petition is not rendered moot after a petitioner is released
from custody where the conviction results in collateral
consequences that continue after expiration of the sentence.
Id. (citing Carafas v. LaVallee, 391 U.S.
234 (1968)). For example:
[w]here the criminal conviction ... results in the continued
denial of important civil rights, such as the right-to-vote
or the right to be considered for jury duty, the claim for
habeas relief will remain a live controversy even after the
prisoner has been released from custody. Similarly, where the
criminal conviction may result in an enhanced sentence should
the petitioner later be convicted of another crime, h[is]
stake in habeas relief permits the court to exercise its
judicial freedom long after [ ] he has been freed.
Broughton v. State of N.C., 717 F.2d 147, 148-49
(4th Cir. 1983) (internal citations omitted). Second, the
“capable of repetition, yet evading review”
exception prevents a petition from becoming moot when two
elements are present: (a) the challenged action is too short
in duration to be fully litigated before it ceases or
expires, and (b) there is a reasonable expectation that the
same petitioner will be subjected to the same wrongful action
again. Leonard, 804 F.2d at 842 (citing
Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147, 149 (1975)).
case, neither exception applies. Petitioner did not challenge
his conviction; rather, he claimed that his sentence was
miscalculated, improperly lengthening his time in custody.
Where the petitioner elects only to challenge the execution
of his sentence and not the validity of the conviction,
collateral consequences are irrelevant. Spencer v.
Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998). Consequently, release from
custody moots the petition. Lane v. Williams, 455
U.S. 624, 631 (1982). Similarly, the capable of repetition,
but evading review exception is inapplicable here because
there is no reasonable expectation that Petitioner will be
incarcerated again and face the same set of circumstances in
these reasons, the undersigned FINDS that
(1) Petitioner's release from custody renders his
petition for habeas corpus relief moot and (2) neither
exception to the mootness doctrine applies in this case.