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Harris v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


July 29, 2010

DONNIE HARRIS, PETITIONER
v.
PENNSYLVANIA BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE, ET AL., RESPONDENTS

The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

(Judge Caputo)

ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Donnie Harris filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254*fn1 challenging actions of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the Board) of repeatedly denying him reparole between 2006 and 2008 based on new criminal charges accrued while previously on parole. (Doc. 1, Pet.) Additionally, he argues the Board's May 19, 2009 decision granting him reparole upon his "completion of violence prevention and sex offender program" and then only to a "specialized community corrections center" for sex offender programs violates his Due Process rights. (Id. and Doc. 10-8 at pp. 2-4, May 19, 2009, Notice of Board Decision). On June 9, 2010, Donnie Harris filed a Notice of Change of Address with the Court indicating he was released from state custody on June 8, 2010. (Doc. 15). For the reasons set forth below, Mr. Harris' petition will be dismissed as moot.

Generally, when a prisoner is challenging the execution of his sentence (rather than the underlying conviction) pursuant to a petition for writ of habeas corpus, the petition becomes moot if the prisoner completes his term of imprisonment before the habeas corpus proceedings have concluded. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7, 118 S.Ct. 978, 983, 140 L.Ed.2d 43 (1998); Williams v. Sherman, 214 Fed. App'x. 264, 266 (3d Cir. 2007). This rule stems from the well-established principle that federal courts do not have jurisdiction to decide an issue unless it presents a live case or controversy as required by Article III, § 2 of the United States Constitution. Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7, 118 S.Ct. at 983. "This case-or-controversy requirement subsists through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate . . . The parties must continue to have a 'personal state in the outcome' of the lawsuit." Id. (quoting Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477-78, 110 S.Ct. 1249, 1253, 108 L.Ed.2d 400 (1990)). Thus, if developments occur during the course of adjudication that eliminate a petitioner's personal stake in the outcome of a suit or prevent a court from being able to grant effective relief, the case must be dismissed as moot. See County of Morris v. Nationalist Movement, 273 F.3d 527, 533 (3d Cir. 2001)(citing Blanciak v. Allegheny Ludlum Corp., 77 F.3d 690, 698-99 (3d Cir. 1996).

In the instant case, Donnie Harris did not challenge the validity of his underlying conviction or sentence, rather he challenged his continued denial of parole and then the Board's conditional grant of parole pending his satisfaction of certain programming requirements. Because he has been released on parole, the legal injury he asserts in his petition no longer remains for this Court to remedy; he no longer has the requisite "personal stake in the outcome" of the litigation. See Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7, 118 S.Ct. at 983. Without an injury, Mr. Harris presents no case or controversy. His claim is moot.

ACCORDINGLY, THIS 29th DAY OF JULY, 2010, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1. The petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) is dismissed as moot.

2. The Clerk of Court is directed to close this file.


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