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Seay v. Owens

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

November 8, 2019

JOSHUA BRYANT SEAY, Petitioner,
v.
ANGELA OWENS, Respondent.

          ORDER DIRECTING CLERK TO MODIFY RESPONDENT, DENYING § 28 U.S.C. 2241 PETITION, DENYING MOTION TO EXPEDITE AS MOOT, CERTIFYING THAT AN APPEAL WOULD NOT BE TAKEN IN GOOD FAITH, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Joshua Bryant Seay has filed a habeas corpus petition (the “Petition”), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No. 1.)[1] For the following reasons, the Petition is DENIED.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         On April 5, 2013, Seay was arrested by the Madison County, Tennessee, Sheriff's Department on an outstanding warrant from Henderson County, Tennessee. (ECF No. 9-1 at 1-2, 7.) A federal grand jury sitting in the Western District of Tennessee returned a one-count indictment on April 15, 2013, charging him with the distribution of methamphetamine occurring on or about March 29, 2013, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). (United States v. Seay, 1:13- cr-10031-JDB-1 (“No. 13-cr-10031”), ECF No. 5 at 1.) On May 6, 2013, while he was in state custody, he was “borrowed” by the United States Marshal's Office (the “U.S. Marshal”), pursuant to a federal writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, and was returned the same day. (ECF No. 9-1 at 2, 7.) A superseding federal indictment was returned on May 20, 2013, charging Petitioner with distributing methamphetamine from “as early as March 2011 until on or about June 20, 2011” (Count 1), distributing methamphetamine “[o]n or about March 29, 2013” (Count 2), and threatening to assault, kidnap, and murder a law enforcement officer and a member of that officer's family (Count 3), in violation of 18 U.S.C § 115(a)(1)(A) and (B). (No. 13-cr-10031, ECF No. 14 at 1-2.)

         Petitioner was again taken into temporary custody by the U.S. Marshal on July 1, 2013. (ECF No. 9-1 at 2, 7.) On July 19, 2013, while in temporary federal custody, the State of Tennessee revoked his probation in state case numbers 09-103-2 and 11-048-1. (Id. at 2, 13, 14.) His revocation sentence began to run the same day. (Id. at 2, 13.)

         Pursuant to an agreement with the Government, Seay pleaded guilty on December 20, 2013, to Counts 2 and 3 of the superseding federal indictment. (No. 13-cr-10031, ECF No. 34.) The Court sentenced him on April 29, 2014, to a 120-month term of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. (Id., ECF No. 44.) The Court ordered the federal sentence to run concurrently with the state revocation sentences. (Id., ECF No. 44.)

         On May 5, 2014, the U.S. Marshal returned Petitioner to state custody to complete his state sentences. (ECF No. 9-1 at 3, 10.) The federal Bureau of Prisons (the “BOP”) designated the Tennessee Department of Corrections as the place to serve the federal sentence, and computed Petitioner's federal sentence to commence on April 29, 2014, the date the federal sentence was imposed. (Id. at 3, 24.) The BOP also credited Seay with 105 days of jail credit for the time period starting on the date of his arrest on April 5, 2013, through July 18, 2013, which was the day before his state revocation sentences began to run. (ECF No. 9-1 at 3, 27.)

         DISCUSSION

         Seay filed his Petition on November 25, 2016. (ECF No. 1.) He asserts that the BOP should credit his federal sentence with the nearly 300 days he spent in custody from July 19, 2013, when his state revocation sentence began, until April 28, 2014, the day before his federal sentence commenced. (Id. at 7.) He insists that he is entitled to “Willis” credits, pursuant to the holding in Willis v. United States, 438 F.2d 923 (5th Cir. 1971) (per curiam), as incorporated into BOP policy at Program Statement (“PS”) 5880.28, Sentence Computation Manual. (See ECF No. 9-1 at 35.) Respondent, Angela Owens, [3] argues the claim is without merit. In support, she has submitted the declaration of Ron Williams, a BOP employee “work[ing] in the area of inmate sentence computations” (ECF No. 9-1 at 1), as well as exhibits showing BOP and State of Tennessee sentence calculations and correspondence (id. at 7-15, 24-27, 31-32).

         This Court is authorized to issue a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a prisoner who is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). A claim about the BOP's failure to award sentence credit can be addressed in a § 2241 petition, after the inmate has exhausted his administrative remedies with the BOP. United States v. Westmoreland, 974 F.2d 736, 737-38 (6th Cir. 1992). In this case, the BOP has not argued that Petitioner has not exhausted his administrative remedies.

         Calculation of a federal prisoner's sentence, including its commencement date and any credit for custody before sentencing, is governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3585. Section 3585(a) provides that “[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.” 18 U.S.C. § 3585(a). The determination of whether a prisoner is entitled to credit for custody occurring before commencement of his federal sentence is governed by § 3585(b), which specifies:

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 ...

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