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Howell v. Zuniga

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 27, 2018

RAHEIM HOWELL, Petitioner,
v.
RAFAEL ZUNIGA, Respondent.

          Mark R. Hornak, Judge

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         It is respectfully recommended that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by former federal prisoner Raheim Howell (the "Petitioner") be dismissed as moot and that this case be closed.

         II. REPORT

         A. Relevant Background

         On September 4, 2009, the Petitioner was sentenced in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York to a term of 120 months of imprisonment on his conviction for Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute and to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Cocaine Base. In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus (ECF No. 4), which he filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, the Petitioner contended that the Bureau of Prisons (the "BOP"), which is the agency responsible for implementing and applying federal law concerning the computation of federal sentences, United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329 (1992), erred in computing his federal sentence. In the answer (ECF No. 10), the Respondent asserted that the BOP properly computed the Petitioner's federal sentence in accordance with the federal sentencing statutes and BOP policy.

         The Petitioner's federal sentence expired on May 21, 2018. (ECF No. 10-2 at 4). The BOP's inmate locator, which is available online at www.bop.gov and of which this Court may take judicial notice, confirms that he was released on that date.[1]

         B. Discussion

         It is a well-established principle that federal courts do not have jurisdiction to decide an issue unless it presents a live case or controversy as required by Article III, § 2, of the Constitution. Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998). "'To invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court, a litigant must have suffered, or be threatened with, an actual injury traceable to the defendant and likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.'" Burkey v. Marberry, 556 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2009) (emphasis added) (quoting Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477 (1990), which cited Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750-51 (1984) and Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471-73 (1982)). "The case or controversy requirement continues through all stages of federal judicial proceedings, trial and appellate, and requires that parties have a personal stake in the outcome." Id. (citing Lewis, 494 U.S. at 477-78). Thus, if developments occur during the course of adjudication that eliminate a petitioner's personal stake in the outcome of a suit or prevent a court from being able to grant effective relief, the case must be dismissed as moot. Id. at 147-48; Keitel v. Mazurkiewicz, 729 F.3d 278, 280 (3d Cir. 2013).

         Since the Petitioner completed his term of imprisonment on May 21, 2018, there is no longer any habeas relief that this Court can provide to him. Therefore, this case is now moot. Spencer, 523 U.S. at 18 ("[M]ootness, however it may have come about, simply deprives us of our power to act; there is nothing for us to remedy, even if we were disposed to do so.").[2]

         III. CONCLUSION

         For the foregoing reasons, it is respectfully recommended that the petition for a writ of habeas corpus be dismissed as moot and that this case be closed.[3] Pursuant to the Magistrate Judges Act, 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1)(B) and (C), and Rule 72.D.2 of the Local Civil Rules, the parties are allowed fourteen (14) days from the date of this Order to file objections to this Report and Recommendation. ...


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