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Littles v. United States

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 9, 2017

Shane X. Littles, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Honorable Bruce G. MacDonald United States Magistrate Judge

         Currently pending before the Court is Petitioner Shane X. Little's pro se Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (“Petition”) (Doc. 1). Although originally filed as a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, that court held that “the Petition is construed as a petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241.” USDC, D. N.J., Civil Case No. 14-6371 (NLH), Order 4/10/2015 (Doc. 1). Respondent has filed a Return and Answer (“Answer”) (Doc. 14). Petitioner did not file a Reply. The Petition is ripe for adjudication.

         Pursuant to Rules 72.1 and 72.2 of the Local Rules of Civil Procedure, [1] this matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Macdonald for Report and Recommendation. The Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Court dismiss the Petition (Doc. 1).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner was an inmate incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary (“USP”) in Tucson, Arizona from January 23, 2015 until July 21, 2015. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Inmate History (Attach. “1”) at 1. On April 16, 2009, a criminal complaint was filed against Petitioner in the United States District Court for the District on New Jersey. See Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), USDC D. N.J., Case No. 09-1038 (AMD), Criminal Complaint (Attach. “2”). At the time of filing the complaint, Petitioner was in the custody of the State of New Jersey, and appeared for his initial appearance in the federal case pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), USDC D. N.J., Mag. Case No. 09-1038 (AMD), Petition and Order for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Exh. “3”). On April 24, 2009, Petitioner appeared for his initial appearance in federal court. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), USDC D. N.J., Mag. Case No. 09-1038 (AMD), Minute Entry 4/24/2009 (Attach. “4”). Upon completion of his initial appearance, Petitioner was returned to the custody of the State of New Jersey. Answer (Doc. 14), Exh. “A”, Attach. “4.”

         On May 27, 2009, Petitioner was again released from the custody of the State of New Jersey to federal authorities pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum for a change of plea hearing. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), USDC D. N.J., Mag. Case No. 09-1038 (AMD), Petition and Order for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Attach. “5”). On October 14, 2009, Petitioner was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey to sixty-eight (68) months incarceration followed by three (3) years of supervised release for one count of Bank Robbery. See Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), USDC D. N.J., Case No. 1:09-CR-395-01 (NLH), Judgment in a Criminal Case 10/15/2009 (Attach. “6”). The District Court Judgment is silent regarding any other sentences to which Petitioner was subject to or may become subject to in the future. See id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “6.” Petitioner's appearance at his sentencing was again secured from the State of New Jersey pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), USDC D. N.J., Crim. Case. No. 09-395 (NLH), Petition and Order for Writ of Habeas Corpus 8/26/2009 (Attach. “5”). After imposition of his federal sentence, Petitioner was returned to the custody of the State of New Jersey, and his federal judgment lodged as a detainer with the State of New Jersey. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), United States Marshals Service (“USMS”) Individual Custody and Detention Report (Attach. “7”).

         On February 5, 2010, Petitioner was sentenced to five (5) years of incarceration without the possibility of parole for being a prohibited possessor of a firearm. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, Case No. 08-10-1108-I, Judgment of Conviction & Order for Commitment (Attach. “8”). On the same date, Petitioner was sentenced by the State of New Jersey to five (5) years of incarceration for second degree sexual assault. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, Case No. 09-10-1047-A, Judgment of Conviction & Order for Commitment (Attach. “9”). This second state Judgment and Commitment directed that Petitioner's sentence “shall run concurrent to the sentence imposed under 08-10-1106-I and the federal sentence currently serving.” Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “9” at 1.

         On August 8, 2014, Petitioner was released from the State of New Jersey's custody and received into federal custody to begin service of his federal sentence. Answer (Doc. 14), Exh. “A, ” Attach. “1.” On December 22, 2014, Petitioner's state guilty pleas and subsequent sentences under Indictment 08-10-1106-I and Accusation 09-10-1047-A were vacated. See Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, Case Nos. 08-10-1106-I & 09-10-1047-A, Order 12/22/2014 (Attach. “10”). On this same date, Petitioner re-entered his guilty pleas and a suspended sentence imposed. Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “10” at 1. In light of this order, the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) reviewed Petitioner's case to determine whether retroactive designation of the State of New Jersey correctional facility as the place of service for his federal sentence was appropriate. See Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Ltr. from Santana to the Hon. Noel L. Hillman 2/13/2015 (Attach. “11”). As a result of this review, the BOP contacted the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey sentencing judge in an effort to determine the District Court Judge's intention regarding the running of Petitioner's federal and state sentences. See id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “1.” On April 6, 2015, the State of New Jersey re-sentenced Petitioner regarding Indictment 08-10-1106-I and Accusation 09-10-1047-A to one year of noncustodial probation. See Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, Case Nos. 08-10-1106-I & 09-10-1047-A, Judgment of Conviction 12/16/2015 (Attach. “13”).

         On May 4, 2015, BOP assessed the appropriateness of retroactive designation of Petitioner's state incarceration to his federal sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b). Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Factors Under 18 U.S.C. 3621(b) Worksheet (Attach. “12”). At the time of this assessment, BOP had not received input from the sentencing court regarding the designation. Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “12.” BOP was apparently also unaware of the state re-sentencing. See id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “12.” On July 13, 2015, the Honorable Noel L. Hillman responded to BOP's request for input, and indicated that from her perspective, retroactive designation of Petitioner's state court incarceration to his federal sentence was appropriate, this letter was received by BOP on July 20, 2015. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Ltr. from the Hon. N. L. Hillman to Santana 7/13/2015 (Attach. “14”).

         On July 21, 2015, BOP reconsidered its retroactive designation and in light of the sentencing judge's input granted Petitioner's retroactive designation of his state court incarceration to his federal court sentence. Answer (Doc. 14), Erickson Decl. (Exh. “A”), Factors Under 18 U.S.C. 3621(b) Worksheet 7/21/2015 (Attach. “15”). Based upon this finding, Petitioner was released on July 21, 2015.

         On October 30, 2014, Petitioner filed his Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. See Petition (Doc. 1), Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody at 30-44. On April 9, 2015, the Honorable Noel L. Hillman in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey construed the Petition “as a petition filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241.” USDC, D. N.J., Civil Case No. 14-6371 (NLH), Order 4/10/2015 (Doc. 1). Accordingly, the case was transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Id.; see also USDC, D. N.J., Civil Case No. 14-6371 (NLH), Opinion 4/10/2015 (Doc. 1) at 58-65. On June 30, 2015, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found it was the improper venue and transferred the matter to the District of Arizona. USDC, E.D. Pa., Civil Case No. 15-1941, Order- Memorandum (Doc. 6). On August 3, 2015, the matter was transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and on August 10, 2015, the Honorable Cindy K. Jorgenson directed the United States Attorney's Office to file its response. In his Petition (Doc. 1), Petitioner sought to have his state and federal sentences run concurrently.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Jurisdiction-In General

         “Federal courts are always ‘under an independent obligation to examine their own jurisdiction, ' . . . and a federal court may not entertain an action over which it has no jurisdiction.” Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 865 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990)). “Generally, motions to contest the legality of a sentence must be filed under § 2255 in the sentencing court, while petitions that challenge the manner, location, or conditions of a sentence's execution must be brought pursuant to § 2241 in the custodial court.” Id. at 864. Therefore, before ...


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