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Hughes v. Sobina

June 5, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Magistrate Judge Baxter


I. Introduction

Petitioner, Robert Hughes, is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Albion, Pennsylvania ("SCI-Albion"). He has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 [Docket No. 1], in which he claims that the Board of Probation and Parole (the "Board") and/or SCI-Albion's Parole Office have retaliated against him for filing civil rights lawsuits by continually postponing his parole-release date.*fn2 Petitioner currently is scheduled to be released to parole on June 30, 2009. He seeks an order from this Court directing that he be released immediately.

A. Relevant Background

On July 19, 1983, Petitioner was sentenced by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County to a term of imprisonment of 16 to 45 years on convictions of robbery and carrying a firearm in public. His minimum sentence date expired on March 26, 1999, and his maximum sentence date originally was set to expire on March 26, 2028.

In January 2001, the Board granted Petitioner parole to a Community Corrections Center (a "CCC"). His parole commenced on or around April 2, 2001. (See Declaration of Michael S. Weber, Institutional Parole Agent at SCI-Albion (hereinafter "Weber Decl.") ¶ 7-10, Ex. A to Response, Docket No. 14). In September 2001, Petitioner absconded from parole when he left the CCC and failed to return. The Board recommitted him as a technical parole violator and it also recalculated his maximum sentence date from March 26, 2028, to April 20, 2028 to account for the time he was delinquent while on parole. (Id. ¶¶ 11-13).

Several years later, on December 10, 2007, the Board granted Petitioner reparole to a CCC with the special condition that he receive mental health treatment at the CCC. (See 12/10/2007 Notice of Board Decision, Weber Decl., Ex. 6). In accordance with the Board's decision, on January 11, 2008, Weber submitted a request to the DOC to place Petitioner in a CCC with mental health treatment. (Weber Decl. ¶ 15). In response, on January 30, 2008, Leslie S. Hatcher, Regional Director of the CCCs in Region 1, sent a memorandum to the SCI-Albion Parole Office in which she advised that February 19, 2008, had been established as the parole-release date for Petitioner, and that he was to be released to DRC, Dual Diagnosis, a CCC in Philadelphia. (1/30/08 Memorandum, Weber Decl., Ex. 7).

On February 14, 2008, just days before Petitioner was to be paroled to the CCC, SCIAlbion's Parole Office postponed his release date because Weber had discovered an error in the paperwork (specifically, Petitioner's Sentence Status Summary Sheet) that had been submitted to the Board.*fn3 (Weber Decl. ¶¶ 24, 27). Weber sent a memorandum to the Board on March 11, 2008, explaining the error and requesting that the Board review the corrected paperwork so that SCIAlbion could release Petitioner to parole. He wrote:

On 12/10/07 a Board Action was generated granting this inmate Re-Parole to a [CCC] with mental health treatment for a minimum of three months and subject to certain special conditions.

On 2/12/08, the Records Dept. here at SCI-Albion was conducting their routine investigation prior to the offender's release. At this time, they discovered an error on the offender's Sentence Status Summary Sheet. The second offense on his summary sheet was incorrectly listed as Theft instead of Robbery. The OTN number and all other offense and sentencing information was correct. When the offender was interviewed by the Board in November 2007, he was correctly seen as a violent offender and all accurate information, including the official version of the crime was included. The offender was sentenced for two Robbery convictions, which were the result of a single incident, at the same location and the same time against two individuals.

On 2/14/08, the offender's Sentence Status Summary Sheet was revised to accurately reflect his convictions. Copies of the updated summary sheet as well as the official versions of the offense have been included for your review.

It is understood that his release orders will need to be revised in order to reflect the change. However, please advise if any additional actions are to be taken regarding the Board's prior decision to grant re-parole.

(3/11/08 Memorandum, Weber Decl., Ex. 8).

On February 19, 2008, Petitioner filed a grievance in which he claimed that SCI-Albion's Parole Office was retaliating against him. On March 4, 2008, Unit Manager ...

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