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Fryer v. Smith

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

July 12, 2017




         I. Introduction

         Stanley Fryar filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, ECF No. 1. Warden Aaron Smith answered, ECF No. 12. Fryar did not reply. The magistrate judge made findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommendation that Fryar's petition be dismissed with prejudice and that Fryar be denied a certificate of appealability. R. & R., ECF No. 13. Fryar makes two objections to the magistrate judge's analysis: (1) he argues that the magistrate judge misconstrued his petition as a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition, rather than one under 28 U.S.C. § 2241; and (2) he objects to the magistrate judge's interpretation and use of Carpenter v. Department of Corrections, No. 3:11-42-DCR, 2012 WL 2021718 (E.D. Ky. June 5, 2012). Obj. R. & R. 1-3, ECF No. 14.

         For the reasons below, the Court will adopt the magistrate judge's report and recommendation in full. The Court will deny Fryar's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Court will deny Fryar a certificate of appealability.

         II. Findings of Fact

         In May of 2000, Fryar pled guilty to various charges of sodomy and sexual abuse in Boone County, Kentucky Circuit Court, and he was sentenced to a 20-year term of imprisonment. R. & R. 1, ECF No. 13. From January 2001 until early September 2010, Fryar was a resident at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex (EKCC), where he claims he was a “model prisoner” who lived in the honor dorm for approximately 4 ½ years. Id. at 2. In 2010, Fryar was transferred to the Kentucky State Reformatory (KSR). Id.

         On July 16, 2013, following his transfer, Fryar wrote a letter to Warden Gary Beckstrom requesting meritorious good time credits for his time spent at EKCC. Id. On July 19, 2013, Warden Beckstrom wrote a memorandum to Fryar, explaining that prison policy prohibited him from re-evaluating the decision of the prior warden at EKCC concerning the award or denial of meritorious good time. Id.

         Fryar sought administrative appellate review of Warden Beckstrom's decision through the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) Office of Offender Information Services (OIS) as required by Corrections Policies and Procedures (CPP) 17.4. Id. On December 11, 2013, OIS Branch Manager Ashley Sullivan wrote a letter informing Fryar that a change in Kentucky Revised Statutes § 454.415 required Fryar to first contact the OIS staff at his institution before taking the appeal to the Central Office. Id.

         On December 19, 2013, Fryar wrote to the OIS staff at his institution to request meritorious good time for his time spent at EKCC. Id. at 3. On December 26, 2013, OIS Specialist William Mustage wrote:

Please understand that Meritorious Good Time (MGT) is a privilege, not a right. Even though a person may be eligible to be reviewed for MGT, this does not guarantee an award. KRS 197.045 gives the Commissioner discretion in awarding MGT. The commissioner has extended that discretion to the institutional staff. The Warden is the person at any institution whom will either approve or disapprove any MGT that is recommended by program staff. Just because a program staff member recommends MGT does not guarantee that the individual will receive it. You were denied MGT for the time period in question for non-program participation and blocked for a period of twelve (12) months) [sic] on more than one occasion.
Upon consideration from Warden Clark Taylor, it has been decided to not lift the MGT block/denial which was placed while you were housed at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex. Following the original denial and KSR's consideration, it is recommended that you contact the Warden at that institution where it was originally denied or blocked, as he/she may also choose to reconsider it.

Id. On January 2, 2014, Fryar against sought administrative review of this decision under CPP 17.4. Id. On January 27, 2014, Sullivan wrote back, informing Fryar that she had reviewed Mustage's response and concurred with his findings. Id. She advised Fryar of his right to appeal her decision to the sentencing court within thirty days of exhausting his administrative remedies under Kentucky Revised Statutes § 532.120(8). Id.

         On March 11, 2014, Fryar moved under Kentucky Revised Statutes § 532.120(8) for an order directing application of meritorious good time credits in the Boone Circuit Court. Id. at 4. In his motion, Fryar alleged that he never received these credits due to clerical error on the part of EKCC staff. Id. On April 9, 2014, the Boone Circuit Court denied Fryar's motion. Id. The judge wrote, “KRS 197.045(1)(b)(2) states that the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections may award Meritorious Good Time Credit. Meritorious Good Time Credit is not a right, and is given solely at the discretion of the Department of Corrections.” Id. Fryar filed a notice of appeal and on May 9, 2014 was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Id.

         On appeal, Fryar argued that while “prisoners do not have a right to parole or goodtime credits, ” KDOC could not arbitrarily interpret state law to deny such credits. Id. The ...

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