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Woodson v. Salinas

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

June 22, 2017

R. SALINAS, Warden, Respondent.


          Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge.

         Inmate Christopher Woodson is confined at the United States Penitentiary-Big Sandy in Inez, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Woodson has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [R. 1.]


         In Nashville, Tennessee during December 2009, Woodson and a cohort robbed several fast food restaurants at gunpoint before they were captured by police on January 16, 2010. At the time, Woodson was subject to a suspended 10-year sentence from a 2006 conviction for drug trafficking imposed by the Criminal Court for Davidson County, Tennessee, in Case No. 2006-B-1618. The state indicted the two men for the robberies, but those charges were eventually dropped. On April 14, 2010, Tennessee did, however, revoke Woodson's probation on the suspended sentence for violating the terms of his supervision, and ordered him to serve the original 10-year sentence, with credit given for prior periods in state custody. [R. 1-1 at 12.]

         While he was serving that sentence, in March 2012 a federal grand jury indicted Woodson and his accomplice for essentially the same conduct, as these robberies also violated the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951. [R. 1-1 at 12.] As part of a plea agreement, Woodson pled guilty to three counts of armed robbery in exchange for the dismissal of other charges, and in September 2013 the federal court sentenced Woodson to 72 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. Consistent with the parties' recommendations in the plea agreement, the trial court ordered his federal sentence to run concurrently with the pre-existing 10-year state sentence. The trial court, recognizing that it lacked the authority to order the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to give Woodson pretrial jail credit against his federal sentence, nonetheless recommended that it do so starting on June 11, 2012, the day he was borrowed from state custody on a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. United States v. Woodson, No. 3: 12-CR-51-1 (M.D. Tenn. 2012).

         In March 2014, approximately four years after his 10-year state sentence was imposed, Tennessee granted Woodson parole. He was then transferred from state custody to federal prison to serve the remainder of his federal sentence. Believing that the BOP was not crediting him with the full measure of the prior custody credits to which he was entitled, he filed inmate grievances seeking relief. Specifically, he argued that he was entitled to a “nunc pro tunc designation, ” as well as prior custody credits beginning on January 16, 2010, (the day he was arrested by state authorities) to June 11, 2012, (the day he was taken into federal custody pursuant to a writ) pursuant to Willis v. United States, 438 F.2d 923, 925 (5th Cir. 1971). [R. 1-1 at 7-8, 10-11.]

         The BOP transmitted Woodson's grievance to its Designation and Sentence Computation Center in Grand Prairie, Texas, to determine if he was eligible for additional credits, either under Willis, or under Kayfez v. Gasele, 993 F.2d 1288, 1290 (7th Cir. 1993). However, because the “Effective Full Term” of Woodson's state sentence - the date it would have expired if he had served all 10 years of it - was after, not before, the full term expiration date of his 6-year federal sentence, the BOP concluded that Woodson was not entitled to credits under Willis or Kayfez, nor to a “retroactive designation” pursuant to BOP Program Statement 5160.05 (Jan. 16, 2003). [R. 1-1 at 8, 12-13.]

         Having failed to convince the BOP to advance his release date, Woodson sought relief from the trial court in December 2015. Consistent with the government's response, in January 2016 the trial court held that he must seek relief by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the district of his confinement. Woodson filed his petition in this case shortly thereafter, again seeking credit against his federal sentence. Notably, Woodson's petition does not request credit from January 16, 2010, to June 11, 2012, (as he did in his grievances to the BOP), but from June 11, 2012, forward. [R. 1 at 6-8]


         The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 F. App'x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). A petition will be denied “if it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)). The Court evaluates Woodson's petition under a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). At this stage of the proceedings, the Court accepts the petitioner's factual allegations as true and construes all legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).

         Calculation of a federal prisoner's sentence, including both its commencement date and any credits for custody before the sentence is imposed, is governed by federal statute:

(a) A sentence to a term of imprisonment commences on the date the defendant is received in custody awaiting transportation to, or arrives voluntarily to commence service of sentence at, the official detention facility at which the sentence is to be served.
(b) A defendant shall be given credit toward the service of a term of imprisonment for any time he has spent in official detention prior ...

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