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Williams v. Varano

December 17, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III



Petitioner Shannon Williams ("Petitioner" or "Williams"), an inmate confined at the Coal Township State Correctional Institution ("SCI-Coal Township") in Coal Township, Pennsylvania, initiated this pro se action by filing a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Petition") under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Doc. 1.) Williams challenges the calculation of his parole violation maximum sentence date by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole ("Board") and the calculation by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") of the credit against his re-entry sentence for time spent in federal custody. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition will be dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust state court remedies.

Service of the Petition on the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Office of General Counsel for the DOC, and the Board was directed by Order dated October 28, 2009. (Doc. 4.) On November 17, 2009, a Response to the Petition was filed on Respondents' behalf by the Office of General Counsel for the DOC. (Doc. 5.) Although Williams was given the opportunity to file a Reply within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of Respondents' filings (see Doc. 4), he has not done so. Accordingly, the Petition is ripe for review.


On September 28, 1994, Williams was sentenced in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas to a three (3) to ten (10) year term of incarceration. (See Doc. 5-2, Dauph. Cty. Court Commitment.) He was paroled from that sentence on March 10, 2003. (See Doc. 5-3, Board Order to Recommit.)

On September 30, 2003, while Williams still was on state parole, he was arrested for new criminal activity in York, Pennsylvania. (See Doc. 5-4, Board Administrative Action.) As a result of these charges, the Board issued a warrant, and Williams was returned to state custody pending action on the new charges and a review of his parole by the Board. (See id.) He initially was detained only on the Board warrant. (See Doc. 5 at 2, Response.)

On October 8, 2003, Williams was charged in York County with state drug and firearms charges in connection with his September 30, 2003 actions. (See Doc. 5-5, York Cty. Docket Sheet.) He failed to post bail on these charges (see id. at 2), and therefore, he remained in custody on both the new charges and the Board warrant.

On October 22, 2003, Williams also was charged with federal firearms crimes. (See Doc. 5-6, Middle District of Pennsylvania Docket Sheet.) On November 18, 2003, he was granted bail on the federal charges. (See id. at 2, Doc. 10.)

On May 11, 2004, Williams was sentenced to a two (2) to four (4) year term of incarceration on his new state crimes by the York County Court of Common Pleas. (See Doc. 5-7, York Cty. Court Commitment.) On May 12, 2004, he entered a guilty plea on his federal firearms charges. (See Doc. 5-6 at 3, Doc. 58.)

On August 18, 2004, the Board recommitted Williams as a convicted parole violator and directed that he serve eighteen (18) months of backtime on his original state sentence "when available." (See Doc. 5-8, Notice of Board Decision.)

On October 13, 2004, Williams was taken into federal custody and brought before the Honorable Sylvia H. Rambo of this Court for sentencing on his federal charges. (See Doc. 5-6 at 3, Docs. 70, 79.) Judge Rambo imposed a sentence of fifty-four (54) months of confinement and directed that the sentence run concurrent with Williams's York County sentence. (See id., Doc. 72.) Williams was returned to state custody on that same date, and a federal detainer was lodged against him for the federal sentence. (See Doc. 5-9, Federal Detainer.) Williams remained in state custody until his release to federal custody on March 11, 2005 following the Board's issuance of an order lifting its warrant and directing the DOC to release Williams to his federal sentence. (See Doc. 5-10, Board Order to Release from Temporary Detention.)

While in federal custody, Williams appealed his federal sentence (see Doc. 5-6 at 3, Doc. 73), and on August 1, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit vacated his federal sentence and remanded the matter to the District Court for resentencing. (See Doc. 5-11, Third Circuit Judgment.) Accordingly, on October 25, 2005, Judge Rambo resentenced Williams on his federal charges to a term of forty-seven (47) months. (See Doc. 5-6 at 4, Doc. 88.) He was released from his federal sentence on April 8, 2008. (See Doc. 5-12, Bureau of Prisons Detainer Action Letter.) On that date, the Board issued an order recommitting Williams on his original state sentence. (See Doc. 5-3.) The Board granted credit for the time served from the date of Williams's arrest on September 30, 2003 until October 8, 2003, and assessed 447 days of backtime, which it calculated as running from April 8, 2008 through June 25, 2009. (Id.)

On March 20, 2009, Williams filed a petition under Pennsylvania's Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"), 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. ยงยง 9541 et seq., in the York County Court of Common Pleas. (See Doc. 5-5 at 4.) Counsel was appointed to represent ...

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