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Bates v. Saad

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

March 26, 2019

RICHARD LEE BATES, Petitioner,
v.
JENNIFER SAAD, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REJECTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [DKT NO. 20], DENYING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS OR MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. NO. 13], AND GRANTING IN PART PETITIONER'S § 2241 PETITION [DKT. NO. 1]

          IRENE M. KEELEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On August 16, 2017, the petitioner, Richard Lee Bates (“Bates”), filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Dkt. No. 1). In his petition, he alleges that, following its decision to grant in part his request for a nunc pro tunc[1] designation, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) miscalculated his credit for time spent in state prison. Id. After the respondent, Jennifer Saad (“Saad”), filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, motion for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 13), the Honorable Michael J. Aloi, United States Magistrate Judge, issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), recommending that the Court grant Saad's motion and dismiss Bates's petition (Dkt.No. 20).

         Following de novo review of the R&R, [2] the Court concludes that the BOP abused its discretion by selecting July 1, 2013, as the retroactive start date for Bates's federal sentence. Accordingly, it DENIES Saad's motion (Dkt. No. 13), and GRANTS IN PART Bates's § 2241 Petition (Dkt. No. 1).

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background[3]

         In November 2011, in Martinsville, Virginia, the Henry County Sheriff's Office arrested Bates and charged him with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon in the Commonwealth of Virginia (Dkt. No. 20). After a federal grand jury named Bates in a six-count indictment, Virginia loaned him to the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia pursuant to a Writ of Habeas Corpus Ad Prosequendum (Dkt. No. 13-3 at 1-2).

         Pursuant to a plea agreement, Bates pleaded guilty to Counts Three and Four of the six-count federal indictment, charging him with distribution of oxycodone, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (Dkt. No. 13-3 at 5). He received a sentence of 46 months of imprisonment on Count 3, and a consecutive sentence of 60 months of imprisonment on Count 4, for a total sentence of 106 months. Id. at 6.

         The Western District of Virginia returned Bates to the custody of Virginia and lodged the federal judgment as a detainer. The Henry Circuit Court, in Henry County, Virginia, sentenced Bates to a 10-year term of imprisonment, with 5 years suspended and credit for time served in pretrial custody (Dkt. No. 13-3 at 11-12). Notably, the time Bates served in pretrial custody ran from November 13, 2011 (the date of his arrest), until August 30, 2012 (the day his state sentence officially commenced), for a total of 291 days. Id. at 13. When Bates completed his state sentence on March 9, 2016, Virginia transferred him to the custody of the United States Marshals Service to begin serving his federal sentence of 106 months. Id. at 14.

         In May 2016, while serving his federal sentence, Bates sought a two level reduction of his 46-month sentence for distribution of oxycodone pursuant to the newly enacted, so-called “Drugs Minus Two” law, 28 U.S.C. § 994(u). Id. at 15. The Western District of Virginia granted Bates's motion and reduced his term of imprisonment on Count 3 from 46 to 37 months, effectively reducing his total federal sentence from 106 to 97 months. Id.

         In June 2016, the BOP sent a letter to his federal sentencing court inquiring whether it would oppose a potential nunc pro tunc designation of Bates's sentence as to Count 3. Id. at 16-17. The court interposed no objection, and the BOP, utilizing the five factors outlined in 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b), concluded that a nunc pro tunc designation was appropriate “insofar as it related to Count 3” (Dkt. Nos. 13-2 at 3; 13-3 at 18-19; 20).

         To effectuate the nunc pro tunc designation, the BOP selected a retroactive start date for Bates's 37-month sentence on Count 3 that would allow his federal sentence to run partially concurrent to his state sentence (Dkt. No. 13-2 at 3). According to the BOP's calculation, Bates would have satisfied his 37 months on Count 3 on March 8, 2016, the day before Virginia released him to federal custody to begin serving his federal sentence. Id. Based on this, the BOP contends that Bates began serving his consecutive 60-month sentence on Count 4 on March 9, 2016. Id.

         Whether the BOP correctly determined that “a 37-month term of imprisonment commencing on July 1, 2013 would be satisfied on March 8, 2016, the day prior to the state sentence's satisfaction date, ” id., is, as Bates has aptly pointed out in his memorandum, “the crux of the matter” (Dkt. No. 22). Notably, the span of time between July 1, 2013, and March 8, 2016, is not 37 months, but only 32 months and 8 days.

         B. Procedural Background

         Saad's motion argues that Bates is not entitled to any additional credit for time spent in state custody because all of the time he spent in pretrial custody has already been ...


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