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Dill v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation & Parole

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

May 15, 2018

Edwin Dill, Petitioner
v.
Pennsylvania Board of Probation & Parole, Respondent

          Submitted: February 23, 2018

          BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, President Judge HONORABLE MICHAEL H. WOJCIK, Judge HONORABLE DAN PELLEGRINI, Senior Judge

          OPINION

          MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, PRESIDENT JUDGE.

         Edwin Dill, an inmate at SCI-Benner Township, petitions for review of an adjudication of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (Board) that denied his challenge to the Board's recalculation of his maximum sentence date. Dill contends that because the Board did not conduct a revocation hearing within 120 days of receiving official verification of his conviction on new criminal charges, its sentence recalculation was a nullity. His counsel, David Crowley, Esq., has petitioned for leave to withdraw from representation of Dill. For the following reasons, we grant Counsel's petition and affirm the Board's order.

         On December 11, 1984, Dill was sentenced to 12 years, 6 months to 25 years upon his conviction for robbery and related charges. When Dill was paroled on October 24, 1993, his maximum sentence date was April 24, 2006.

         On December 5, 1996, Dill was charged criminally for possession of a controlled substance and incarcerated in Delaware County prison. That same day the Board issued a detainer against Dill both for new charges and for several technical parole violations. Dill requested a continuance of the parole revocation hearing "[t]o await disposition of all outstanding criminal charges." Certified Record at 30 (C.R. ___). While in Delaware County prison, Dill was charged with the federal crime of interference with interstate commerce by robbery and related firearms charges. After the state charges against Dill were dismissed, [1] a federal bench warrant for his arrest was issued. On June 25, 1997, Dill was taken into federal custody. On July 2, 1997, Dill was "detained without bail pending trial" by the federal court. C.R. 40.

         On November 10, 1997, Dill was convicted of the federal robbery charges and sentenced to incarceration for 262 months. On November 12, 1997, the Board received official verification of the conviction. On June 28, 1998, the Board lodged a detainer against Dill on the federal criminal conviction.

         On March 2, 2016, Dill was released from federal prison to the Board's detainer. On March 23, 2016, the Board conducted a revocation hearing on Dill's outstanding technical parole violations and the criminal parole violation. At that hearing, the technical parole violations were dropped because Dill's former parole agent could not be located to testify. Evidence of Dill's federal conviction was entered into evidence.

         Dill moved for a dismissal of the revocation proceeding for the stated reason that the applicable statute required a parole violator to serve backtime on a state sentence before serving time on a new federal sentence. Dill contended that the Board should have removed him from federal custody to complete his backtime in state prison. Dill then testified about his accomplishments in federal prison. After completing several courses in health and wellness, Dill became an instructor in the federal prison on physical fitness and physical therapy. He is now 61 years old and would like to live outside prison for the remainder of his life.

         The Board recommitted Dill to serve 12 months backtime for his criminal parole violation and recalculated his maximum sentence date to May 15, 2027. Dill filed an administrative appeal, asserting that the revocation hearing was untimely. The Board denied the appeal, explaining that at the time of Dill's conviction on the federal charges, the applicable statute required him to serve the federal sentence before serving backtime on his state sentence. Accordingly, Dill did not become available to the Board until his release from federal custody in 2016, at which point the Board promptly conducted a parole revocation hearing.

         Dill has petitioned for this Court's review, arguing that his revocation hearing was untimely and, thus, the Board had no authority to recalculate his maximum sentence date.[2] Counsel has filed an application to withdraw from Dill's representation and a brief pursuant to Anders v. State of California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), that explains why Dill's appeal lacks merit.

         When evaluating a petition for leave to withdraw from representation of a parolee, we must determine whether counsel has satisfied the following requirements: (1) notifying the inmate of the application to withdraw; (2) providing the inmate with a copy of the Anders brief or a no-merit letter in accordance with Commonwealth v. Turner, 544 A.2d 927 (Pa. 1988); and (3) advising the inmate of his right to retain new counsel or file a brief on his own behalf. Miskovitch v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 77 A.3d 66, 69 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2013). If counsel has fully complied with the technical requirements for withdraw, the Court will independently review the merits of the inmate's claims.

         Here, the record reflects that Counsel has notified Dill of the application to withdraw; has provided Dill with a copy of the Anders brief that details Counsel's review of the issues and the reasons why Counsel concluded those issues lack merit; and has advised Dill of his right to retain new counsel or raise any new points he might deem worthy of consideration. Because Counsel has satisfied the procedural requirements for withdrawal, the Court will review the inmate's claims. Accordingly, we turn to the merits of Dill's appeal.

         Due process requires that a parolee receive a timely hearing after he is taken into custody for a parole violation. See Taylor, 931 A.2d at 117 (citing Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (1972)). In accordance with that principle, the Board has obligated itself by regulation to hold a parole revocation hearing within 120 days of receiving official verification of the parolee's conviction. 37 Pa. Code §71.4(1).[3] Because the Board learned of Dill's federal conviction almost 20 years before it held a revocation hearing, he argues that his ...


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