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Hill v. Coakley

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg

May 24, 2018

KARL KEVIN HILL, Petitioner,
v.
JOE COAKLEY, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND, IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, DISMISSING PETITIONER'S INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL CLAIM

          GINA M. GROH CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Adoption of Report and Recommendation

         On this day, the above-styled matter came before the Court for consideration of the Report and Recommendation (''R&R'') of United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble. ECF No. 27. Pursuant to this Court's Local Rules, this action was referred to Magistrate Judge Trumble for submission of a proposed R&R. Magistrate Judge Trumble issued his R&R on April 20, 2018. In the R&R, he recommends that the Petitioner's § 2241 petition [ECF No. 1] be denied and dismissed without prejudice.

         A. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court is required to make a de novo review of those portions of the magistrate judge's findings to which objection is made. However, the Court is not required to review, under a de novo or any other standard, the factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge as to those portions of the findings or recommendation to which no objections are addressed. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). Failure to file timely objections constitutes a waiver of de novo review and of a Petitioner's right to appeal this Court's Order. 28.U.S.C..'.636(b)(1); Snyder v. Ridenour, 889 F.2d 1363, 1366 (4th Cir. 1989); United States v. Schronce, 727 F.2d 91, 94 (4th Cir. 1984).

         Objections to Magistrate Judge Trumble's R&R were due within fourteen plus three days of the Petitioner being served with a copy of the same. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The R&R was mailed to the Petitioner by certified mail on April 20, 2018. The Petitioner accepted service on April 30, 2018. The Petitioner filed objections on May 16, 2018. ECF No. 29. Accordingly, the Court will review the portions of the R&R to which the Petitioner objects de novo.

         B. Background

         The Petitioner challenges the execution of his sentence arguing that the Bureau of Prisons improperly calculated his eligible sentence reduction. Specifically, the Petitioner alleges that the Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”) administrator incorrectly stated that the Petitioner is ineligible for a one-year sentence reduction upon completion of RDAP. While the Petitioner acknowledges that he has not completed RDAP, he claims that he declined treatment because “without that [sentencing] credit, he wasn't interested in participating in the drug treatment program.” ECF No. 29 at 8. Moreover, although he has admittedly not exhausted administrative remedies, he asserts that “futility thereby excuses [him] from being obligated to exhaust.” ECF No. 9 at 3.

         Magistrate Judge Trumble recommends dismissing the Petitioner's claim because the Petitioner does not present an active case or controversy. Additionally, Magistrate Judge Trumble states that the Petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The Petitioner makes two objections. First, he states that he does present an active case or controversy under Spokeo. ECF No. 29 at 7. Second, he argues that he does not have to exhaust administrative remedies because it would be “futile.” ECF No. 29 at 5. However, the Court need not decide if the Petitioner must exhaust administrative remedies because the Petitioner fails to present an active case or controversy.

         C. Discussion

         Before a party can invoke the jurisdiction of the federal courts, the party must “satisfy the threshold requirement imposed by Article III of the Constitution by alleging an actual case or controversy.” City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 101 (1983). This requires that the party: (1) suffer an injury in fact; (2) that is traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant; and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. Spokeo v. Robins, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1547 (2016).

         At issue here is whether the Petitioner has suffered an injury in fact. To demonstrate injury in fact, the Petitioner must show that “he has sustained or is immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury.” Lyons, 461 U.S. at 102 (internal citations omitted). This injury must be “both real and immediate, not conjectural or hypothetical.” Id. (internal citations omitted). For example, the Supreme Court has declined to find injury in fact when the plaintiffs may proceed to violate an unchallenged law and may be arrested and charged with violations of the criminal law because, if the plaintiffs are ever prosecuted, there are “available state and federal procedures which could provide relief from the wrongful conduct alleged.” Id. at 102-03.

         Here, the Petitioner has declined to participate in RDAP. Accordingly, the Petitioner is not “immediately in danger of sustaining some direct injury.” As in Lyons, the Petitioner may suffer an injury if he completes the program and if the Bureau of Prisons denies him a sentence reduction. However, before the Petitioner would suffer any injury, he would have to enroll in and complete the 500 hour program. Upon completion of the program, the Bureau of Prisons would have to wrongly determine that the Petitioner is not eligible for a sentence reduction. Only at that point, assuming arguendo that (1) the Petitioner completed the RDAP program; (2) he was eligible for a sentence reduction; and (3) the Bureau of Prisons denied him a sentence reduction, would the Petitioner have suffered an injury in fact.

         The Petitioner's claim becomes even more hypothetical when considering that he has not exhausted any administrative remedies. The Petitioner relies on a single statement by the RDAP program administrator when arguing that the prison will not, hypothetically, grant him a sentence reduction. However, it is entirely possible that the Bureau of Prisons would in fact grant the ...


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