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Buford v. Meeks

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 24, 2015

KEVIN DVAUGHN BUFORD, Petitioner,
v.
BOBBY MEEKS, Respondent.

OPINION[1]

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

Presently before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by the petitioner, federal prisoner Kevin Dvaughn Buford, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He contends that the Bureau of Prisons (the "Bureau" or the "BOP"), which is the agency responsible for implementing and applying federal law concerning the computation of federal sentences, see, e.g., United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329 (1992), erred in computing his sentence. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is denied.

I.

A. Relevant Background

Buford has a long criminal record. In relevant part, on August 13, 2003, he was arrested by local non-federal authorities and charged in the Jefferson County Circuit Court in Birmingham, Alabama, at Criminal Docket No. CC XXXX-XXXX with Robbery in the First Degree (hereinafter "State Criminal Case 1"). The next day, he was released from custody. (Declaration of Marcus Boudreaux[2] ¶¶ 5(f), 7(d)).

On October 20, 2003, Buford was arrested by local non-federal authorities and charged in the Jefferson County Circuit Court in Birmingham, Alabama, at Criminal Docket No. CC XXXX-XXXX with Theft of Property (hereinafter "State Criminal Case 2"). He subsequently was released from custody, but on March 3, 2004, he was arrested again by local non-federal authorities in Birmingham, Alabama in connection with State Criminal Case 2. This time, he remained in prison and was held in custody in the Jefferson County Jail. (Boudreaux Decl. ¶¶ 5(g)-(j), 7(k)).

Because State/local authorities arrested Buford first, he was in the "primary custody" (sometimes referred to as "primary jurisdiction") of the State of Alabama. (Boudreaux Decl. ¶ 11). The "primary custody" doctrine developed to provide different sovereigns (in this case the state and the federal governments) with an orderly method by which to prosecute and incarcerate an individual who has violated each sovereign's laws. Ponzi v. Fessenden, 258 U.S. 254 (1922). See, e.g., Bowman v. Wilson, 672 F.2d 1145, 1153-54 (3d Cir. 1982); George v. Longley, 463 F.Appx. 136, 138 n.4 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam); Elwell v. Fisher, 716 F.3d 477 (8th Cir. 2013). In relevant part, the doctrine provides that the sovereign that first arrests an individual has primary custody over him. That sovereign's claim over the individual has priority over all other sovereigns that subsequently arrest him. The sovereign with primary custody is entitled to have the individual serve a sentence it imposes before he serves a sentence imposed by any other jurisdiction, regardless of the chronological order of sentence imposition. See, e.g., Bowman, 672 F.2d at 1153-54. Primary custody remains vested in the sovereign that first arrests the individual until its sentence expires and it releases the inmate, or until it relinquishes its priority through some other act, such as granting bail, dismissing the charges, or releasing the individual on parole. George, 463 F.Appx. at 138 n.4.

In May 2004, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, charging Buford with Unlawful Possession with Intent to Distribute Five or More Grams of a Mixture and Substance Containing Cocaine Base, Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm After Having Been Convicted of a Crime of Domestic Violence for offense conduct that occurred on or about August 12, 2003. A United States Magistrate Judge issued a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum so that Buford could appear in federal court to face his criminal charges. The United States Marshals Service took temporary custody of him pursuant to that writ on May 13, 2004, the same day it arrested him at the Jefferson County Jail. (Boudreaux Decl. ¶ 7(j)-(k)).

Although Buford was temporarily transferred to the physical custody of federal authorities pursuant to the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, the State of Alabama maintained primary custody over him. That is because a prisoner detained pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum remains in the primary custody of the sending sovereign unless and until it relinquishes jurisdiction over him. See, e.g., Ruggiano v. Reish, 307 F.3d 121, 125 n.1 (3d Cir. 2002), superseded on other grounds by U.S.S.G. § 5G1.3(c) app. note 3(E) (2003). See also Elwell, 716 F.3d at 482 ("When the United States obtained physical custody of Elwell based upon the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, the transfer of physical control over Elwell's custody from Iowa to the United States did not terminate Iowa's primary jurisdiction.") The receiving sovereign - in this case, the federal government - is considered simply to be "borrowing" the prisoner from the sending sovereign for the purposes of indicting, arraigning, trying, and/or sentencing him. Id.

On June 24, 2004, Burford entered a guilty plea in federal court. On October 21, 2004, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama sentenced him to a 120-month sentence. The federal court was silent as to the relationship of the federal sentence with any other sentence to which Buford was or would be subject. (Resp's Ex. li, Federal Judgment and Commitment Order). The federal court's Statement of Reasons ("SOR") reflected that the applicable Sentencing Guidelines range for Counts One and Three was 60-71 months, a mandatory 60-month sentence as to Count Two, and the sentence imposed was within the applicable Guidelines ranges. The SOR did not reflect the court downwardly departed from the advisory Sentencing Guidelines ranges. Nor did the SOR reflect any intent on the part of the federal sentencing court to downwardly depart from applicable guidelines ranges or to adjust Buford's federal sentence under U.S.S.G. § 5K2.23 or § 5G1.3 to account for time served in state custody pursuant to a discharged or undischarged term of imprisonment. (Boudreaux Decl. ¶ 7(m)).

On October 26, 2004, the United States Marshals Service returned Buford to state authorities in satisfaction of the federal writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. The federal sentencing order was lodged with the Jefferson County Jail as a detainer. (Boudreaux Decl. ¶ 7(n)).

Approximately three months later, on January 24, 2005, Buford was sentenced in State Criminal Case 2 to a two-year term of imprisonment for Theft of Property, First Degree. The next day, he pleaded guilty to Robbery in the First Degree in State Criminal Case 1. In this case, the state court sentenced him to a term of five years' confinement and 15 years' confinement suspended. The court stated that the sentence was to run concurrently with the two-year term imposed in State Criminal Case 2 and Buford's federal sentence. (Boudreaux Decl. ¶¶ 7(o)-(p)).

On October 19, 2009, Buford was released from the state sentence to the federal detainer. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3584(a), the BOP calculated Buford's federal sentence as consecutive to his state sentences. This means that it has refused to give him a retroactive concurrent designation under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b) (discussed below), which would have allowed the state prison to be the place where he began service of his federal sentence.[3] Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3585(a), the BOP has calculated Buford's federal sentence to have commenced on the day the State of Alabama released him to the federal detainer (October 19, 2009). The BOP also has determined that Buford is entitled to 168 days of prior custody credit pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b) for that time that he spent in official detention that was served between the date of the conclusion of the federal offense conduct and the day prior to the date his federal sentence commenced that was not credited against any other sentence. (Boudreaux Decl. ¶¶ 7(q)-(s), 17).

Buford challenged the BOP's calculation of his federal sentence through the BOP's administrative remedy process. When he did not receive the relief he sought, Buford, who at the time was incarcerated within the territorial boundaries of the Western District Court of Pennsylvania, filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He contends that he is entitled to additional credit against his federal sentence. In the answer, Respondent asserts that the BOP properly calculated Buford's federal sentence and that the petition should be denied. (ECF No. 9). Buford did not file a reply.

B. Subject Matter Jurisdiction

"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute[.]" Cardona v. Bledsoe, 681 F.3d 533, 535 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). 28 U.S.C. § 2241 "confers habeas jurisdiction to hear the petition of a federal prisoner who is challenging not the validity but the execution of his sentence, " McGee v. Martinez, 627 F.3d 933, 935 (3d Cir. 2010), such as, for example, the way in which the BOP is computing his sentence. See, e.g., Barden, 921 F.2d at 478-79. Such petitions are filed in the federal court of the judicial ...


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