United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
ZIMBABWE H. FIELDS, Petitioner,
WARDEN KIZZIAH, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
inmate Zimbabwe Fields has filed a pro se petition
for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241
to challenge the Bureau of Prisons' calculation of his
prior custody credits. [R. 1] This matter is before the Court
to conduct the screening required by 28 U.S.C. § 2243.
Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419
Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). As explained more fully
below, the Court will deny the petition because Fields has
made these claims before and because the prior resolution of
them was correct.
17, 2011, Fields was on parole from a prior state drug
trafficking conviction when he was arrested by local police
in Savannah, Georgia and charged with possession of a firearm
by a convicted felon and receiving stolen property. One month
later he was indicted on federal charges for possession of a
firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon and possession of
a stolen firearm. While the federal charges remained pending,
Georgia dismissed the state charges in October 2011.
February 2012, Fields pled guilty to possessing the stolen
firearm and the federal court imposed a 108-month sentence.
Fields was returned to state custody on March 1, 2012, and on
March 22, 2012 his Georgia parole was revoked. The state
imposed a 10-month revocation sentence, ordered to run
concurrently with his pre-existing federal sentence, with
credit for time spent in state custody since March 1, 2012.
Fields completed service of this sentence on January 24, 2013
and was transferred to federal custody to commence service of
his federal sentence. United States v. Fields, No.
4: 11-CR-201-LGW-l (S.D. Ga. 2011).
Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") initially did not grant
Fields any credit for time spent in custody from the date of
his initial arrest in June 2011 until his transfer to Georgia
custody in March 2012, incorrectly believing that this time
had been credited against his state parole revocation
sentence. However, when Fields filed inmate grievances
regarding this issue starting in May 2013, the BOP recognized
the error when it audited his records. By March 2014, the BOP
had awarded Fields 259 days of prior custody credits starting
from June 17, 2011 (the day he was arrested by Georgia
police) to March 1, 2012 (the day he was transferred to
Georgia custody) because these days had not been credited
against any other sentence. The BOP declined, however, to
grant a nunc pro tunc designation of the Georgia
state prison as the place for service of his federal sentence
pursuant to Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476 (3d Cir.
1970), in part based upon the trial court's
recommendation that such relief be denied. See Fields v.
Hastings, No. 2: 14-CV-90-LGW (S.D. Ga. 2014) [R. 8, 8-2
2013, Fields filed a pro se motion in the federal
trial court requesting that, in light of the Georgia
court's order that the two sentences be served
concurrently, the BOP be ordered to credit him with 19 months
of prior custody credits from June 17, 2011 to January 24,
2013. [R. 27 therein at 2-3] The Court dismissed the motion
on the grounds that Fields must first exhaust his
administrative remedies within the BOP and then seek relief
under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Fields, No. 4:
11-CR-201-LGW-l at R. 34 therein.
2014, Fields filed a Section 2241 petition in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia
challenging the BOP's refusal to award prior custody
credits under § 3585(b) and its denial of a nunc pro
tunc designation under Barden. That Court
denied relief, concluding that all of the time Fields spent
in custody prior to the imposition of his federal sentence
was properly credited against his federal sentence pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b), and that the time he spent in
state custody on his revocation sentence was credited against
that Georgia sentence and could not be double counted against
his federal sentence. That court further concluded that the
BOP acted within its discretion to deny a nunc pro
tunc designation under Barden. Fields, No. 2:
14-CV-90-LGW at R. 10, 11 therein.
March 2018 Fields sent a one-page letter to the federal trial
court, requesting without explanation or argument that his
federal sentence be deemed to have commenced on the date it
was imposed, also making unexplained references to a nunc
pro tunc designation of the state prison as the place
for service of his federal sentence and to
"interruption" of his federal sentence. The court
again noted that Fields' claims must be pursued under
Section 2241 and denied his request, but directed that, so
construed, his letter be transferred to this Court as a
habeas corpus petition. [R. 42, 44 therein].
Court summarily dismissed that action on procedural grounds,
but invited Fields to file a new petition and pay the
requisite filing fee. Fields v. United States, No.
7:18-30-KKC (E.D. Ky. 2018). Fields did file a new petition,
and it has been docketed as the operative pleading in this
case. However, Fields' petition is unsigned and provides
neither a factual basis nor any legal argument in support of
the relief he seeks. [R. 1] Nonetheless, the Court will
liberally construe it to assert the same grounds for relief
set forth in his prior petition before this Court in No.
as previously noted the BOP has already awarded Fields prior
custody credits pursuant to Section 3585(b) from June 17,
2011 to March 1, 2012. He is not entitled to further credits
from March 2, 2012 to January 24, 2013 as that time was
credited against his Georgia revocation sentence, and may not
be counted a second time against his federal sentence.
United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329, 337 (1992);
Broadwater v. Sanders, 59 Fed.Appx. 112, 113-14 (6th
fact that the Georgia court ordered its sentence to run
concurrently with Fields federal sentence, which had yet to
commence by that time, was of no legal effect: the Supremacy
Clause prevents a state court order of concurrency from
causing a federal sentence to commence prior to the date
established by operation of 18 U.S.C. § 3585(a). Cf.
Finch v. Vaughn, 67 F.3d 909 (11th Cir. 1995);
Abdul-Malik v. Hawk-Sawyer, 403 F.3d 72, 75 (2nd
Cir. 2005); Leal v. Tambone, 341 F.3d 427, 427-30
(5th Cir. 2003).
extent Fields again challenges the BOP's decision not to
grant a nunc pro tunc designation under
Barden, that claim would doubtless be barred as an
abuse of the writ if the Warden chose to assert that
affirmative defense. McClesky v. Zant, 499 U.S. 467,
483-84 (1991). But upon initial screening, the Court's
role is merely to determine whether the petitioner has set
forth plausible grounds to conclude that the Warden's
decision not to grant that form of relief constituted an
abuse of discretion. Cf. Eccleston v. United States,
390 Fed.Appx. 62, 64-65 (3d Cir. 2010) ("The test is not
whether a reviewing court would weigh the factors
differently. The writ may issue only where an error is
fundamental and carries a serious potential for a miscarriage
of justice."). In the prior habeas petition, the
respondent provided documentation establishing that the BOP
had considered the factors set forth in Section 3621(b) as
well as the recommendation of the sentencing court to deny
relief, and reached a conclusion to deny relief that was
neither irrational nor palpably at odds with 18 U.S.C. §
3621(b). Accordingly, the BOP did not abuse the wide
discretion afforded it under Barden. Cf.
Ramos-Rodriguez v. Warden, FCIFort Dix, No. 11-2967,
2011 WL 4537749, at *2 (3d Cir. Oct. 3, 2011); Alvarez v.
Schultz, 312 Fed.Appx. 495, 497 (3d Cir. 2009).
Fields was never released to his liberty at any point during
this period, and hence his service of his federal and state
sentences was never interrupted. Because Fields' petition
states no viable ground for relief, it will be denied.
it is OR ...