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Sanders v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole

December 12, 2008

QUADIR SANDERS, PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

JUDGE SYLVIA H. RAMBO

MEMORANDUM

Petitioner Quadir Sanders, an inmate currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pennsylvania, filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, requesting the court to "order petitioner's parole reinstated," to direct "the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to answer the grounds raised in accordance with Rule 5 of the rules governing section 2254 cases," and to "[s]et an evidentiary hearing." For the reasons that follow, the court will dismiss the petition.

I. Background

On October 28, 2002, Petitioner was sentenced to five to ten years incarceration for robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, possession with intent to deliver, criminal conspiracy, and carrying a firearm without a license. (Doc. 20 at 3.) The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections calculated Petitioner's sentence to have a minimum expiration date of October 5, 2006 and a maximum expiration date of October 5, 2011. (Id.)

On August 30, 2006, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the "Board") granted Petitioner parole, and he was released from confinement on December 12, 2006. (Id.) On March 28, 2007, Petitioner was arrested for carrying a firearm without a license. (Id.) On May 21, 2007, following a parole violation and detention hearing on April 10, 2007, the Board issued an adjudication recommitting Petitioner to serve six months backtime as a technical parole violator for violating his curfew on March 28, 2007. (Id. at 4.)

On August 22, 2007, the criminal charges filed after the March 28 arrest were withdrawn. (Id.) The Board, then, charged Petitioner with additional technical parole violations based on Petitioner's conduct resulting in the arrest. (Id.) After several continuances, a parole revocation hearing was held on January 15, 2008, to afford Petitioner an opportunity to respond to the technical parole violation charges of possessing a firearm while on parole and possessing ammunition while on parole. (Id.) On January 28, 2008, the Board issued an adjudication recommitting Petitioner to serve nine months backtime as a technical parole violator to be served concurrently with the previously imposed six-month sentence. (Id. at 5.) On May 2, 2008, and June 25, 2008, Petitioner mailed two letters to the Board requesting "administrative relief," which the Board processed as appeals pursuant to 37 Pa. Code § 73.1(a). (Id.) The Board dismissed his appeal on August 14, 2008. (Id.) Petitioner filed a petition for review with the Commonwealth Court, several months after filing the instant petition, which the Commonwealth Court dismissed on October 1, 2008 because Petitioner "failed to comply with the Chief Clerk's defect correction letter of August 27, 2008." (Doc. 20-2 ex. I.)

In April 2008, the Board interviewed Petitioner, but denied him Parole based, among other things, on (1) his "minimization/denial of the nature and circumstances of the offense(s) committed and parole violation," (2) his "prior history of supervision failure(s)," and (3) his "interview with the hearing examiner and/or Board member." (Doc. 18 ex. 1) (original in upper case). Petitioner has not filed any pleading in Pennsylvania state court pertaining to this parole refusal. (See Doc. 20 at 6; Doc. 18 ¶ 22.)

Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus accompanied by a "Memorandum of Law" on May 22, 2008, arguing that the Board's January 28, 2008 and April 15, 2008 decisions were "arbitrary, an abuse of discretion, lacking evidentiary support, based on unchanged circumstances and rendered in violation of due process." (Doc. 1.) Respondents filed an answer to the petition accompanied by a "Memorandum of Law" on August 8, 2008. (Doc. 13.) Petitioner filed a "Reply to Respondent's Answer" on September 19, 2008. (Doc. 18.) On November 6, 2008, Respondents filed a Brief in Response to the court's October 23, 2008 order requesting additional briefing. (Doc. 20.) The court will now consider the petition.

II. Discussion

Petitioner seeks a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the Board's decisions on January 28, 2008 and April 15, 2008 were "arbitrary, an abuse of discretion, lacking evidentiary support, based on unchanged circumstances and rendered in violation of due process." Respondents argue that the court should deny the petition with regard to (1) the January 28 decision because Petitioner has failed to exhaust the remedies available in the Pennsylvania state court system and (2) the April 15 decision because Petitioner has "no constitutionally protected right to parole" and thus has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The court will review each argument in turn.

A. January 28 Decision

1. Exhaustion Requirement

The court has jurisdiction to "entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The court, however, may not grant a petition unless it appears that "the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State." See 28 U.S.C. 2254(b)(1)(A); Coleman v. Thomspon, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991) ("This Court has long held that a state prisoner's federal habeas petition should be dismissed if the prisoner has not exhausted available state remedies as to any of his federal claims."); Slutzker v. Johnson, 393 F.3d 373, 379 (3d Cir. 2004). The exhaustion requirement demands that a petitioner "give the state courts a full and fair opportunity to resolve federal constitutional claims before those claims are presented to the federal courts" by invoking "one complete round of the State's established appellate review process." O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999); Holloway v. Horn, 355 F.3d 707, 714 (3d Cir. 2004). "This rule of comity reduces friction between the state and federal court systems by avoiding the unseemliness of a federal district court's overturning a state court conviction without ...


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