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Andreozzi v. Meeks

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 19, 2017

BOBBY MEEKS, Respondent.



         Before the Court are Petitioner's Objections [22] to the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [18] of the Honorable Susan Paradise Baxter, United States Magistrate Judge, recommending denial of Petitioner's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Having reviewed the Petition, the parties' briefs, and the R&R and objections thereto, the Court adopts the decision of the Magistrate Judge.


         On June 12, 1998, Petitioner was convicted by United States Army General Court Martial of multiple felonies, including the rape of his ex-wife. Federal Initial Prehearing Assessment, Doc. 1-1 at 2. Petitioner was sentenced to an aggregate term of 27 years imprisonment. Id. Three days later, during Petitioner's off-site medical appointment, Petitioner “rushed” his escorting officer, Matthew Mann. Id. Petitioner gained control of Mann's gun; blind-folded and handcuffed Mann in the back of the officer's van; and then fled on foot. Id. Petitioner was eventually apprehended and found guilty of multiple corresponding felonies. Id. On November 13, 1998, Petitioner was sentenced to a consecutive term of 15 years imprisonment. Id.

         Following a parole hearing approximately ten years later, in April 2008, the United States Parole Commission (“the Commission”) set a presumptive parole date of December 1, 2013. Hr'g Summary, Doc. 1-2. As a “condition” of his presumptive release, the Commission “recommend[ed]” that Petitioner participate in Sex Offender Treatment. Id. at 5. Petitioner's presumptive release date of December 1, 2013 remained unchanged following both a statutory interim hearing in April 2010, and a hearing conducted pursuant to Petitioner's appeal in October 2012. Statutory Interim Hr'g, Doc. 1-3; 12/7/12 Notice of Action, Doc. 1-4.

         On January 30, 2013, a victim witness coordinator with the Commission sent an internal memorandum requesting that Petitioner's “case be reopened.” 1/30/13 Mem., Doc. 1-7. The coordinator wrote that while the Commission, at Petitioner's first hearing, had “considered the input from the victim[] of the first offense, ” i.e., Petitioner's ex-wife, “the Commission did not have input from the victims of the second offense, ” i.e., Mann and his family. Id. at 2. Mann and Mann's ex-wife, the coordinator explained, incorrectly believed that they were registered in the relevant electronic system such that they would be notified of any of Petitioner's parole hearings. See id. at 3. The Manns, the coordinator continued, did not know about Petitioner's earlier parole hearings, objected to Petitioner's release, and “continue to fear for their safety.” Id. The Manns submitted letters to this effect, which the coordinator attached to her memorandum. See id.

         The Commission considered the Manns' letters “new adverse information, ” and, pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 2.28(f), reopened Petitioner's case. 2/1/13 Notice of Action, Doc. 5-12. The Commission notified Petitioner of its decision to reopen his case by letter dated February 1, 2013. Id. Approximately six weeks later, the Commission further notified Petitioner that it had rescinded his presumptive parole date of December 1, 2013, and that it would schedule a “Reconsideration Hearing on the next available docket.” 3/13/13 Notice of Action, Doc. 1-6. Petitioner was not provided any further documentation regarding the substance of the reconsideration hearing, including why the Commission reopened his case. See Doc. 5-1; 5-12; 1-6.

         Petitioner's reconsideration hearing was held on June 25, 2013. Doc. 1 at 4. At the beginning of the hearing, the Hearing Examiner told Petitioner that the hearing had been scheduled for the Commission to consider the following three pieces of new, adverse information: “victim opposition to parole;” a Disciplinary Hearing Officer's 2013 finding that in December 2012, Petitioner physically fought with another inmate (“DHO decision”); and Petitioner's “unsuccessful[] discharge[]” from sex offender treatment. Gervasoni Decl., Doc. 5-1 ¶¶ 3-5 (quoting Audio recording 6/25/13 Hr'g, Ex. 13). The Examiner asked Petitioner whether he was “prepared to go forward today at this hearing to discuss those issues;” Petitioner responded, “Yes, ma'am.” Id. at ¶ 6 (quoting Audio recording 6/25/13 Hr'g, Ex. 13). In addition to considering Petitioner's 2012 fight and his unsuccessful discharge from sex offender treatment, at the hearing, the Commission heard testimony from Mann and his father. 7/25/13 Post Hr'g Summary, Doc. 5-14.

         Following the hearing, the Commission denied Petitioner parole and continued the matter until at least April 2023. 7/17/13 Notice of Action, Doc. 1-8. Petitioner timely appealed, requesting immediate parole. See 10/15/13 Appeal, Doc. 1-10 at 32. The National Appeals Board affirmed the Commission's decision. 1/27/14 Notice of Action on Appeal, Doc. 1-11.

         Petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, alleging that the Commission failed to comply with 28 C.F.R. § 2.55(a), which requires that the Commission, at least 60 days in advance of a parole hearing, notify a prisoner that he may request disclosure of the documentation on which the Commission will rely at a parole hearing; and that the Commission should not have considered the Manns' statements because in 2013, Petitioner was serving the sentence imposed for his first set of crimes (against his ex-wife) and not for those involving Mann. Doc. 1 at 8; see also Pet'r's Br. in Supp., Doc. 1-11. According to Petitioner, such failures necessitate that the Court remand for a new parole hearing. Doc. 1 at 8 (citing United States ex rel. Schiano v. Luther, 954 F.2d 910, 919 (3d Cir. 2991)).

         Magistrate Judge Baxter issued an R&R recommending that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus be denied. Doc. 18. Petitioner timely filed his Objections, arguing that he did not waive-or, alternatively, that he could not have waived-his right to request disclosure of the documents on which the Commission relied, and that the Manns' statements should not have been considered both because they are irrelevant and because they are based, in large part, on medical documents that were not presented at the hearing. See Doc. 22. Thus, Petitioner argues in his objections, the Commission violated his due process rights. See id.


         When a party files objections to an R&R, the district court must review de novo those portions of the R&R to which objections are made. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The District Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. Raddatz, 447 U.S. at 673-74.

         A district court's “role in reviewing decisions by the Parole Commission on application for a writ of habeas corpus is limited.” Gambino v. Morris, 134 F.3d 156, 160 (3d Cir. 1998). “The appropriate standard of review of the Commission's findings of fact . . . is only whether there is a rational basis in the record for the Commission's conclusions embodied in its statement of reasons.” Id. at 160 (quoting Zannino v. Arnold,531 F.2d 687, 691 (3d Cir.1976) and citing 28 C.F.R. § 2.18). A court “must ensure that the Commission has followed criteria appropriate, rational and consistent with its enabling statutes[.]” Gambino, 134 F.3d at 160. Additionally, a court must ensure that the Commission used parole guidelines in determining whether to grant parole. See id. However, the Commission is “authorized to ‘deny release on parole notwithstanding the guidelines if it determines there is good cause for doing so.'” Id. (quoting 18 U.S.C. ยง 4206(c)) (internal alterations omitted). ...

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