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Garza v. Oddo

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 17, 2018

ALBERT GARZA, Petitioner
v.
WARDEN L. J. ODDO, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          RICHARD P. CONABOY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Background

         Albert Garza, an inmate presently confined at the Allenwood United States Penitentiary, White Deer, Pennsylvania (USP-Allenwood), filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Service of the petition was previously ordered.

         Petitioner initially states that his mandatory release date was May 2, 2013 and he has completed service of his life sentence and 15 year consecutive sentence. See Doc. 1, ¶ 5. Garza also claims entitlement to federal habeas corpus relief on the grounds that an October 9, 2015 decision of the United States Parole Commission (Parole Commission) improperly denied his request for parole and constituted an ex post facto and due process violation.

         Petitioner was convicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas on charges of robbery, kidnaping, and murder.[1] He is presently serving a life sentence which was imposed on July 19, 1973. Garza's conviction and life sentence were affirmed in 1974 following a direct appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. See Garza v. United States, 498 F.2d 1066 (5th Cir. 1974).[2]

         Petitioner was subsequently convicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois of escape and sentenced to a consecutive fifteen (15) year term of imprisonment. This conviction stemmed from Petitioner's escape from the United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois (USP-Marion) in 1979. Garza was recaptured after a shootout with police.

         Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4206(d), a prisoner is eligible for mandatory parole after completing two thirds of each consecutive term or terms or after serving 30 years of each consecutive term. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) calculated the two-thirds date of Petitioner's sentence as being May 2, 2013. The BOP concluded that Garza needed to serve 40 years, two thirds of his life sentence (30 years) plus two thirds of his escape sentence (10 years). Petitioner has been considered for, but denied parole on multiple dates with recommendations that he remain confined until the expiration of his sentence.

         On May 15, 2013, Petitioner was provided with an in person hearing as to the issue of whether he was entitled to release on mandatory parole. The Hearing Examiner recommended that Petitioner be granted mandatory parole as of August 2, 2013 to serve a consecutive 25 year sentence imposed by the State of Illinois.[3]

         However, an Executive Reviewer disagreed and recommended a denial of mandatory parole with a interim hearing to be conducted in May, 2015. By Notice dated June 7, 2013, the Parole Commission denied Garza mandatory parole, ordered that petitioner serve to the expiration of his sentence, and scheduled a statutory interim hearing for May, 2015. In June 2015, Petitioner's statutory interim hearing was conducted and it again determined that he serve to the expiration of his sentence. Following an administrative appeal, the decision was affirmed on October 8, 2015.

         This is the second habeas corpus petition filed by Garza with this Court regarding the denial of his parole applications.

         Discussion

         Respondent argues that Petitioner's due process and ex post facto claims and his contention of being entitled to mandatory parole should be dismissed for abuse of the writ. It is alternatively argued that Garza's arguments are meritless.

         Abuse of the Writ

         Title 28, United States Code § 2241, vests the federal district courts with jurisdiction to grant a writ of habeas corpus to persons in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). Habeas corpus review under § 2241 “allows a federal prisoner to challenge the ‘execution' of his sentence.” Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235, 241 (3d Cir. 2005). Review is available “where the deprivation of ...


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