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Ralston v. Quintana

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

August 7, 2019

ARTHUR A. RALSTON, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN QUINTANA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Joseph M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge.

         Arthur A. Ralston is an inmate at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Ralston filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [R. 1]. This matter is now before the Court on initial screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243. See Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 Fed.Appx. 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Ralston's petition.

         In 2015, while Ralston was detained in the Fulton County Detention Center in Hickman, Kentucky, a federal grand jury charged him with (1) conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine; (2) possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine; (3) purchasing, owning, or possessing body armor after having been convicted of a violent felony; and (4) being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. See United States v. Ralston, No. 5:15-cr-020, at R. 1 (W.D. Ky. 2015). Ralston was then placed in federal custody pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, see R. 16, and his case moved forward.

         Eventually, Ralston pled guilty to the four charges against him. See Id. at R. 42. Then, on April 13, 2016, the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky sentenced Ralston to a total of 120 months in prison. See R. 57. Shortly thereafter, Ralston was returned to the custody of Kentucky state authorities, and the Western District of Kentucky's Judgment was filed as a detainer. See R. 90.

         On April 28, 2016, Ralston was sentenced in state court to a term of imprisonment for “trafficking in a controlled substance-first degree” and “promoting contraband-first degree.” Id. Ralston then began serving time in state custody and, on August 1, 2017, his state obligation was satisfied. See Id. Therefore, Ralston was transferred to federal custody pursuant to the detainer, and he started serving his federal sentence.

         Ralston now wants to receive credit against his federal sentence for the time he spent in state custody between April 28, 2016 and August 1, 2017. To date, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has not credited this time against Ralston's federal sentence and, thus, Ralston filed a § 2241 petition with this Court complaining about the way the BOP calculated his sentence. [R. 1].

         Ralston's petition, however, is unavailing because he has not demonstrated that the BOP erred in calculating his sentence. Here, the Western District of Kentucky's Judgment was silent on whether Ralston's federal sentence was to run concurrent with or consecutive to his anticipated state sentence, see Ralston, No. 5:15-cr-020, at R. 57, and the calculation of a federal prisoner's sentence is determined by 18 U.S.C. § 3585. That statute provides:

(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 to the date the sentence commences
(1) as a result of the offense for which the sentence was imposed; or
(2) as a result of any other charge for which the defendant was arrested after the commission of the offense for which the sentence was imposed; that has not been credited against another sentence.

18 U.S.C. § 3585.

         Here, the Western District of Kentucky sentenced Ralston on April 13, 2016. However, pursuant to § 3585(a), the BOP properly determined that Ralston's federal sentence did not commence until August 1, 2017, the date that he was received in federal custody. See Ralston, No. 5:15-cr-020, at R. 90. Moreover, Ralston did not receive credit against his federal sentence for the time he spent in state custody pursuant to § 3585(b) because Ralston's time in state custody was “credited against another sentence, ” his state sentence. Thus, Ralston has not demonstrated in any clear way that the BOP erred in calculating his sentence.

         Ralston nevertheless suggests that the Western District of Kentucky ran afoul of § 5G1.3(c) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines when it imposed its sentence. That provision provides that if “a state term of imprisonment is anticipated to result from another offense that is relevant conduct to the instant offense of conviction . . ., the sentence for the instant offense ...


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