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Ronald Cambrel v. Isaac Fulwood

October 5, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo


I. Introduction

Ronald Cambrel, a federal prisoner serving a life sentence for murder, seeks this court to issue of writ of mandamus directing the United States Parole Commission (Parole Commission) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to disclose documents they failed to produce in response to his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, requests. Specifically, Mr. Cambrel wants copies of various documents relied upon by the Parole Commission as reasons for denying him parole. For the reasons that follow, Mr. Cambrel's Petition for Writ of Mandamus (Doc. 1) will be denied.

II. Standard of Review

"[D]istrict courts shall have original jurisdiction in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or employee of the United States or any agency thereof to perform a duty owed to the Plaintiff." 28 U.S.C. § 1361. Mandamus is a drastic remedy available only in the most extraordinary circumstances. See Kerr v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 426 U.S. 394, 402, 96 S.Ct. 2119, 2123, 48 L.Ed.2d 725 (1976); In re Diet Drugs Prods. Liab. Litig., 418 F.3d 372, 378 (3d Cir. 2005). "Before a writ of mandamus may issue, a party must establish that (1) no other adequate means exist to attain the relief he desires, (2) the party's right to issuance of the writ is clear and indisputable, and (3) the writ is appropriate under the circumstances." Hollingsworth v. Perry, U.S. , , 130 S.Ct. 705, 710, 175 L.Ed.2d 657 (2010)(per curiam)(quotation marks and punctuation omitted); Cheney v. U.S. Dist. Court for D.C., 542 U.S. 367, 380-81, 124 S.Ct. 2576, 159 L.Ed.2d 459 (2004).

III. Background

On January 10, 1974, Ronald Cambrel was sentenced in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to first degree murder. See Doc. 10-2, Exs. in Supp. Resp. to Pet. for Mandamus at ECF p. 5.*fn1 He is currently incarcerated at the Hazelton United States Penitentiary (USPHazelton) in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. See Doc. 14, Change of Address.

The District of Columbia (D.C.) Board of Parole initially considered Mr. Cambrel for parole in 1993. Doc. 10-2 at ECF p. 8. The D.C. Board denied him parole and ordered a rehearing in 1995. Id. In 1995, the D.C. Board again denied him parole and ordered a rehearing in 2000. Id. at ECF p. 9.

On August 16, 1989, Mr. Cambrel was transferred from the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) to the BOP. He was returned to the D.C. DOC on June 23, 1992. See Doc. 13-2, Exs. in Supp. Petr's. Traverse at ECF p. 62. Eventually, the D.C. DOC was terminated and all D.C. DOC inmates were designated to BOP facilities. Id. On July 1, 1999, Petitioner was transferred.*fn2 His classification file was also transferred at this time. Doc. 13-2 at ECF p. 76. There were no "DC Disciplinary Reports" contained in the transfer file. Id.

Effective August 5, 1998, jurisdiction of Mr. Cambrel's parole determinations was transferred to the Parole Commission pursuant to the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, Public Law No. 105-33, §11231(a)(1), 111 Stat. 712, 745; D.C. Code §24-131 (formerly 24-1231). The Parole Commission conducted Petitioner's rehearings in 2000, 2003, 2007 and 2008. Doc. 10-2 at ECF pp. 10-29. At his last rehearing in 2008 the Parole Commission set a parole rehearing for October 2010. Id. at ECF pp. 28-29.

In these various proceedings, the Parole Commission denied Mr. Cambrel parole for various reasons, including but not limited to, a continued reference to his pre-1988 negative institutional adjustment as demonstrated by his receipt of frequent incident reports. Id. at ECF pp. 10-29. Mr. Cambrel has repeatedly questioned the Parole Commission about the accuracy of this information. Id. at p. 14. The Parole Commission has responded that although his "file indicates that 49 incident reports" which Petitioner accrued while in D.C. custody are "not in the Commission's file. The examiner refers the reviewer to the Presentence Report prepared for the 1988 offense (Docket No. 88-211A E/VA) . . . [which contains] a short summary . . . of each of the incident reports" is included. Id. at ECF p. 15.*fn3

Some of the incident reports listed in the presentence report were:

Possession of Major Contraband 06/21/1988 Threatening Conduct 06/05/1987 Creating a Disturbance 07/03/1981 Threatening a Correctional Officer 08/21/1981 Assault 12/16/1981 Fighting 08/03/1975 Fighting 08/12/1975 See Id.*fn4 The 2003 Hearing Examiner personally reviewed the Parole Commission's file for the referenced incident reports but found "no incident reports available." Id. at ECF p. 17. Mr. Cambrel's case manager was requested to ask the BOP for copies of the incident reports. Id. In response the Hearing Examiner received "a copy of two incident reports, which are in the file, and a copy of the 1988 PSI, which outlines the 49 incident reports described." Id.

In March 2001 Mr. Cambrel's first FOIA request asked the Parole Commission to disclose "copies of information relied upon by the Commission regarding your incident reports and your conviction involving possession of contraband (shank). Also, . . . copies of the prior calculation of your salient factor score." A total of 14 pages of information was disclosed by the Parole Commission at that time. See Cambrel v. Bledsoe, 3:CV-08-1684 (M.D. Pa.)(J. Caputo), Doc. 2 at ECF p. 76. Mr. Cambrel received a ...

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