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James Washington v. United States Parole Commission

March 9, 2012

JAMES WASHINGTON,
PETITIONER
v.
UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Rambo)

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is a petition for writ of mandamus filed by Petitioner James Washington, a District of Columbia ("D.C.") parolee being held on an executed D.C. parole violator warrant. Petitioner argues that the United States Parole Commission ("USPC") failed to provide him with a probable cause determination and parole revocation hearing within the time provided in their regulations. As relief, he seeks an order directing the USPC to conduct a parole revocation hearing. He also requests sanctions. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be dismissed in part and denied in part.

I. Background

A. Facts

Respondent provides the following pertinent facts with respect to the status of Petitioner's revocation hearing.*fn1 On June 3, 2005, Petitioner was sentenced by the District of Columbia Superior Court to a five-year term of imprisonment for armed robbery and possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, with a subsequent three-year term of supervised release. (Doc. 8 at 2.) Petitioner began his supervised release term on or about August 3, 2009. (Id. at 2-3.) Under the conditions of supervision, Petitioner was to remain in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, including the District of Columbia, Prince George's and Montgomery Counties in Maryland, and Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia. (Id. at 3.)

On March 3, 2011, the USPC issued a warrant charging Petitioner with violating the conditions of supervision by leaving the district of supervision without permission, and failing to report to his supervising officer as directed.*fn2

(Id.) On March 21, 2011, the USPC supplemented its warrant with additional law violation charges of robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, and retail theft.*fn3 (Id.) Petitioner had been arrested on those charges by North Middleton Township, Pennsylvania police on February 4, 2011. (Id.)

On March 21, 2011, the United States Marshal Service executed the USPC's parole violater warrant as to Petitioner. (Id. at 4.) In a letter dated March 21, 2011, the USPC requested that the United States Probation Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania conduct a preliminary interview. (Id.) On March 22, 2011, a preliminary interview was conducted. (Id.) At the interview, Petitioner denied all of the charges, but admitted to being arrested on the law violation charges. (Id.) Petitioner requested appointment of counsel for a local revocation hearing, and requested an adverse witness. (Id.)

By letter dated June 6, 2011, the USPC informed Petitioner that it had found probable cause to believe that he had violated the conditions of supervision as charged, and that a local revocation hearing would be scheduled. (Id.) That local revocation hearing was scheduled for September 9, 2011. (Id.)

In a subsequent status report filed on February 28, 2012, the Respondent provided the following further facts related to the status of Petitioner's revocation hearing. (Doc. 10.) On September 7, 2011, two days before the scheduled revocation hearing, Petitioner's counsel requested a continuance of the local revocation hearing pending the outcome of the state criminal proceedings against Petitioner, scheduled for October 10, 2011.*fn4 (Doc. 10 at 1.) On December 5, 2011, the USPC requested that Petitioner's counsel update it on the status of the state criminal charges. (Id.) The USPC also informed counsel that it had learned from the National Crime Information Center that Petitioner had pleaded guilty to retail theft and robbery on November 1, 2011, and inquired whether sentencing had taken place. (Id. at 1-2.) The state sentencing was scheduled for December 20, 2011. (Id. at 2.) Because of the new conviction, Petitioner was no longer entitled to a local revocation hearing; rather, the USPC converted his case to one in which an institutional revocation hearing was required.*fn5 (Id.)

On January 5, 2012, the Federal Public Defender's Office informed the USPC that Petitioner had been moved from the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Virginia to the District of Columbia Jail on January 4, 2012. (Id.) Respondent states,

It appears this happened because [Petitioner] was supposed to have been sentenced on December 20, 2011, and the United States Marshals Service believed that sentencing had occurred; however, the state court continued his sentencing to January 17, 2012, directing the Probation Service to provide information regarding whether or not [Petitioner] was serving a federal sentence. (Id.) In his reply to the status report, Petitioner adds that he was in fact moved out of the state on December 12, 2011, prior to the state sentencing scheduled for December 20, 2011. (Doc. 11 at 1-2.)

On January 6, 2012, the USPC again informed Petitioner that it had found probable cause to believe he had violated the conditions of supervision as charged, and was ordering his transfer to a federal institution for an institutional revocation hearing. (Doc. 10 at 3.) On that same day, the USPC requested that the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") designate Petitioner to a federal institution. (Id.) As conceded by Respondent, this request for designation was sent in error, as the USPC was under the mistaken belief that state sentencing had occurred as scheduled on December 20, 2011. (Id.)

By communication dated January 26, 2012, the USPC informed the Marshals Service that Petitioner had been moved out of Pennsylvania before his state sentencing, and requested that he be moved back to the Cumberland County Jail in Pennsylvania for sentencing on the new state conviction. (Id.) In its response to the USPC request, the Marshals Service stated that it would try to move him as requested. (Id.) Thereafter, Petitioner was designated to the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was confined as of the date of the filing of the status report on February 28, 2012. (Id.) On that date, the USPC requested that the BOP cancel the designation of Petitioner and allow the Marshals Service to transport ...


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