Ford v. Caulfield

Decision Date10 September 2009
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 07-1182 (CKK).
Citation652 F.Supp.2d 14
PartiesKevin Charles FORD, Sr., Petitioner, v. John CAULFIELD, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Joseph William Koegel, Jr., Steptoe & Johnson, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Petitioner.

Carl James Schifferle, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia Office of the Solicitor General, Joan Draper, U.S. Attorney's Office, Steven J. Anderson, Office of Attorney General for DC, Washington, DC, for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.

Kevin Charles Ford, Sr., filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus while confined in the Central Treatment Facility in the District of Columbia. Subsequently, counsel entered an appearance for Ford and filed two amended petitions. Ford has since been released from confinement, but his challenge to the United States Parole Commission's continuing jurisdiction over him survives. The federal respondents urge the Court to summarily deny the petition. Because the record establishes that Ford's Superior Court sentence expired before February 17, 2004, when the Parole Commission issued a warrant for his arrest, the Court will grant Ford's petition for a writ of habeas corpus and issue an order releasing Ford from the remainder of the supervised release imposed by the Parole Commission.

I. BACKGROUND

The record shows that on September 25, 2001, Ford was arrested and charged in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with distributing heroin. See Petitioner's Second Amended Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Pet."), Exs. A, B at 1. Ford was jailed for 23 days and then, on October 17, 2001, was released pending trial subject to certain conditions. Id. Ex. B at 2, Ex. C. After Ford failed to appear for his arraignment as ordered, he was arrested on May 6, 2002, pursuant to a Superior Court "no bond" bench warrant. Id. Ex. D. Held without bond, Ford pled guilty to a charge of attempted distribution of heroin and was sentenced to serve twelve months in prison followed by ninety days of supervised release. Id. ¶¶ 1, 9 & Ex. E. The execution of the original sentence of confinement was suspended as to all but time served, and Ford was instead placed on twelve months of "supervised probation," the first three of which were to be served in a halfway house. Id. ¶ 9 & Ex. E. The three months' confinement in a halfway house expired December 17, 2002, at which point Ford was released to the community on supervised probation. Id. ¶ 9 & Ex. F. The parties agree that as of December 17, 2002, Ford had spent 248 days in custody, comprised of the 23 days in 2001 and 225 days in 2002. See id. ¶ 9; Federal Respondents' Opp'n to Pet.'s Am. Pet. for a Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Second Opp'n") at 2, 5 n.5 (concluding that despite an earlier, different calculation based on an error in the institution's reported jail credit time incorrectly reflecting a release date of 10-11-01, see Pet. Ex. B at 1, "[t]he petitioner is correct that he is entitled to custody credit for October 12, 2001 to October 17, 2001....").

Later, after Ford failed to appear in court as ordered to answer to allegations of violating the terms of his supervised probation, a Superior Court "no bond" bench warrant was issued on June 20, 2003, and executed on July 7, 2003 with Ford's arrest. Id. ¶ 10 & Ex. I. Two days after his arrest, the Superior Court committed Ford without bond to the custody of the Superintendent of the District of Columbia Jail until disposition of the violations charges. Id. Ex. J. At his disposition hearing on July 24, 2003, the Superior Court reinstated Ford's original sentence of "one year in jail with credit for time served," followed "upon release from imprisonment" by "three months supervised release." Id. Ex. K (Sentence of the Court); see also id. ¶ 11. Upon release from imprisonment on December 18, 2003, see Second Opp'n at 2, Ford began serving his sentence of three months of supervised release. Based on allegations that Ford had violated the terms of his supervised release, the United States Parole Commission issued a warrant on February 17, 2004 for Ford's arrest.1 Pet. ¶ 12 & Exs. L & M.

The federal respondents concede that Ford was detained longer than the Superior Court sentence had authorized. See Second Opp'n at 5 & n.5 (conceding that "according to the most recent ... calculations, the petitioner should have been released on November 19, 2003," but was detained until December 18, 2003). The parties disagree, however, as to whether Ford was still under the Parole Commission's jurisdiction on February 17, 2004 when the Commission authorized his arrest. See id. at 5 n. 5 (asserting that "the Commission had jurisdiction to issue a warrant for him" on February 17, 2004); cf. Pet. ¶ 29 ("The warrant for Mr. Ford's supervised release violation was not issued until February 17, 2004, which is after the term of his supervised release should have expired."). Ford contends that his sentence of imprisonment was fully satisfied by November 1, 2003, that his sentence to supervised release expired February 1, 2004, and that the United States Parole Commission had no authority over him on February 17, 2004, when the Commission issued the warrant for his arrest.2 Pet. ¶¶ 1, 11, 29. The federal respondents counter that Ford should have been released from incarceration on November 19, 2003,3 and that he was still under the Superior Court sentence and the jurisdiction of the Parole Commission on February 17, 2004, when the Commission issued its arrest warrant for Ford. Second Opp'n at 5 n.5. Alternatively, they argue that "regardless of the time [Ford] erroneously spent in custody before being released to supervised release, this time can not be applied to reduce his term of supervised release." Id. at 6.

The resolution of the parties' differences centers in the first instance on whether Ford is entitled to custody credit for any or all of the seventeen days starting with his arrest on July 7, 2003 pursuant to a "no bond" bench warrant issued by the Superior Court and running through July 23, 2003, the day before the Superior Court reinstated its original sentence. Ford claims that he is entitled to custody credit for those seventeen days. Pet. ¶¶ 10, 27. Respondents maintain that Ford "has failed to substantiate his claim that he is entitled to custody credit for this time frame," and have not applied custody credit for these days. Second Opp'n at 5 n.5.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The writ of habeas corpus extends to provide relief to a person under constructive federal custody "in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); see also Justices of Boston Municipal Court v. Lydon, 466 U.S. 294, 300, 104 S.Ct. 1805, 80 L.Ed.2d 311 (1984) ("Our cases make clear that the use of habeas corpus has not been restricted to situations in which the applicant is in actual, physical custody.") (quotation marks omitted); LoBue v. Christopher, 82 F.3d 1081, 1082 (D.C.Cir.1996). While the law accords a rebuttable presumption of regularity to the conduct of government officers conducting government business, United States v. Crusell, 81 U.S. 1, 4, 14 Wall. 1, 20 L.Ed. 821 (1871), "the privilege of habeas corpus entitles the prisoner to a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that he is being held pursuant to `the erroneous application or interpretation' of relevant law, ..., and the habeas court must have the power to order the conditional release of an individual unlawfully detained." Boumediene v. Bush, ___ U.S. ___, 128 S.Ct. 2229, 2266, 171 L.Ed.2d 41 (2008) (quoting INS v. St. Cyr, 533 U.S. 289, 302, 121 S.Ct. 2271, 150 L.Ed.2d 347 (2001)).

There is no inflexible required procedure for all habeas cases. The habeas corpus inquiry "cuts through all forms and goes to the very tissue of the structure. It comes in from the outside, not in subordination to the proceedings, and although every form may have been preserved, opens the inquiry whether they have been more than an empty shell." Frank v. Mangum, 237 U.S. 309, 346, 35 S.Ct. 582, 59 L.Ed. 969 (1915) (Holmes, J., dissenting) (quoted in Boumediene, 128 S.Ct. at 2270). Therefore, "[h]aving considered the petition," a court should adopt one of a variety of procedures that is "most appropriate to the case" to reach the merits of the petition. Dorsey v. Gill, 148 F.2d 857, 865 (D.C.Cir.1945) (identifying "at least ten" alternative procedures for determining a habeas petition).

III. DISCUSSION

To resolve the dispute in this case, the Court will first determine whether Ford is entitled to custody credit for any or all of the seventeen-day period from his arrest on July 7, 2003 until the Superior Court's July 24, 2003 disposition. If Ford is entitled to more custody credit than the respondents have conceded, then the Court will determine whether Ford was still under the Superior Court's sentence of supervised release and, consequently, under the jurisdiction of the Parole Commission on February 17, 2004. There can be no doubt that if the Superior Court's sentence expired prior to February 17, 2004, any exercise of authority over Ford by the Parole Commission on or after February 17, 2004 was not duly authorized by law.

A. Ford is Entitled to Custody Credit for Period of July 7 through July 23, 2003

Ford asserts that he was in custody from the point of his arrest on July 7, 2003 through July 24, 2003, when he was taken before the Superior Court, and that he spent some portion of that time in the Howard University Medical Center receiving treatment for leg ulcers. Pet. ¶ 10. The respondents concede that if Ford actually spent time in custody at the hospital, he is entitled to custody credit for that time. Second Opp'n at 5 n.5 ("If the petitioner was, in fact, under police guard, at the hospital, he would be in custody and entitled to credit."); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b) (directing...

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