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Carroll v. Madara

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 19, 2019



          KEARNEY, J.

         A citizen sentenced by a Pennsylvania state judge to prison followed by parole with conditions must timely complete the conditions. Pennsylvania police authorities may otherwise obtain a bench warrant and arrest him for violating parole followed by a parole violation hearing within a reasonable time following his loss of liberty. The Commonwealth requires its courts rule on the parole violation within a reasonable time of the conduct. When a parole officer issues the violation notice within a day of the violation and the parole revocation hearing occurs within five weeks of a bench warrant issued by a state court judge leading to the parolee's arrest, the parolee cannot claim his parole officer violated his right to due process by delaying his revocation hearing. He also cannot claim a parole revocation hearing held by a state court judge allows him to sue his parole officer for violating his double jeopardy protections. We grant the parole officer's motion to dismiss the former inmate's pro se claims with prejudice.

         I. Pro se allegations and the public record. [1]

         Pennsylvania officials released Artis C. Carroll, Jr. from prison in October 2016 "after [he] serv[ed] some 'back time' due to a violation."[2] He remained on parole with his term "set to expire at the end of the day on November 30[, ] 2016."[3] The state court's parole conditions included fifty hours of community service.[4] Janelle Madara served as Mr. Carroll's parole officer. Notwithstanding "the short period of time to find and complete [fifty] hours of community service[, ] [Officer Madara] still made him do it."[5] As the condition required fifty hours served by November 30, 2016, he could not violate the condition until after November 30, 2016. Filing a violation notice before the parole term expired (or at least before the last two days of parole) is not possible.

         Mr. Carroll alleges Officer Madara "knew [of] the violation and the violator well in advance, but she waited until after his term of parole expired to file the violation."[6] Officer Madara "filed the violation approximately 12 hours after his term of parole expired."[7] This technical parole violation did not require immediate detention due to a safety concern for Mr. Carroll or the community.

         For unplead reasons, the Commonwealth did not promptly move forward on arresting Mr. Carroll on the parole violation. Mr. Carroll alleges he "wanted to know" the date of his parole violation hearing but Officer Madara "wouldn't tell him."[8] Mr. Carroll alleges a bench warrant issued in April or May 2017 "issued by [Officer] Madara."[9] The public record corrects Mr. Carroll's pro se recollection confirming a state court judge signed the bench warrant on May 17, 2017.[10] The state court held a hearing on June 22, 2017 resulting in the state court judge finding he violated parole. The Commonwealth did not release him "until on or about June 29, 2017 when he maxed out or his sentence was terminated."[11]

         Mr. Carroll blames Officer Madara, who, he claims, "denied him a speedy hearing" because she "didn't schedule the hearing as speedily as possible, as [d]ue process requires and [she] should've filed the violation before the parole expired or not file it at all."[12] Mr. Carroll sues Officer Madara in her individual capacity. He alleges Officer Madara (1) violated his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and (2) violated his rights under the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment.[13]

         II. Analysis.

         Officer Madara moves to dismiss Mr. Carroll's claims.[14] Mr. Carroll has not opposed the motion. Mr. Carroll has not stated a claim. We grant Officer Madara's motion.

         A. Mr. Carroll cannot plead Officer Madara denied him due process.

         Officer Madara argues we must dismiss Mr. Carroll's due process claim because he "has not pled facts to support that his due process rights were violated because of an unreasonable delay in his parole revocation hearing for which Officer Madara] was responsible."[15] Officer Madara argues Mr. Carroll did not endure an unreasonable delay in violation of his due process rights. She also emphasizes her lack of personal involvement in delaying the scheduling of hearings, which Mr. Carroll argues caused the alleged injury. "[A]ll orders relating to scheduling the hearings related to [Mr. Carroll's] defiant trespass charge and subsequent parole violation hearings[] were entered ... by Court of Common Pleas Judges," she argues.[16]

         Officer Madara timely issued the violation.

         Mr. Carroll does not demonstrate how Officer Madara's "wait[ing] until after his term of parole expired to file the violation" deprived him due process.[17] In Schepp v. Fremont Cty., Wyoming, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit found "[m]any states provide that revocation proceedings may commence within a reasonable time after the probation period terminates," and "[t]hese schemes have not been held to violate probationers' constitutional due process rights."[18] The court of appeals found the "[f]ailure to commence revocation proceedings before the end of formal probation does not, in itself, create a significant likelihood that probationers' constitutional rights will be violated."[19]

         Pennsylvania law permits "a sentence for a violation of the terms of probation [to] be imposed after the expiration of the probationary period if the revocation is based on a violation which occurred within the probationary period," so long as the probation is revoked and the sentence is "imposed within a reasonable time after the expiration of the probationary period."[20]

         The Commonwealth charged Mr. Carroll for failing to meet the terms of his parole requiring fifty hours of community service. He admittedly did not serve fifty hours of community service. His present reasons for failing to do so are not before us. Officer Madara issued the violation on the first possible day. This notice is timely.

         Five weeks between warrant and hearing does not violate due process.

         Mr. Carroll challenges the delay between Officer Madara's violation notice on December 1, 2016 and his June 22, 2017 revocation hearing. He claims this delay violates his right to due process even though the Commonwealth did not arrest him until approximately five weeks before his revocation hearing. He misunderstands the nature of due process which focuses on the time after the parole violator is placed in custody.

         Parole "[Revocation deprives an individual, not of the absolute liberty to which every citizen is entitled, but only of the conditional liberty properly dependent on observance of special parole restrictions."[21] Notwithstanding a parolee's highly conditional liberty, our Supreme Court in Morrissey v. Brewer held the parolee's "liberty is valuable and must be seen as within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment."[22] The Court in Morrissey held due process requires a parolee receive "an effective but informal hearing" at "two important stages in the typical process of parole revocation."[23]

         The first important stage is an initial "inquiry ... in the nature of a 'preliminary hearing' to determine whether there is probable cause or reasonable ground to believe that the arrested parolee has committed acts that would constitute a violation of parole conditions."[24] The second important stage, the "[Revocation [h]earing," "must lead to a final evaluation of any contested relevant facts and consideration of whether the facts as determined warrant revocation."[25] The parolee must have an opportunity at the revocation hearing "to be heard and to show, if he can, that he did not violate the conditions, or, if he did, that circumstances in mitigation suggest that the violation does not warrant revocation. The revocation hearing must be tendered within a reasonable time after the parolee is taken into custody."[26]

         Following Morrissey, the Supreme Court in Moody v. Daggett held "the loss of liberty as a parole violator does not occur until the parolee is taken into custody under the warrant."[27] A parolee "has been deprived of no constitutionally protected rights simply by issuance of a parole violator warrant. The Commission therefore has no constitutional duty to provide petitioner an adversary parole hearing until he is taken into custody as a parole violator by execution of the warrant."[28] Our Court of Appeals reaffirmed this principle last year writing, "the duty to provide a hearing arises only when the parolee 'is taken into custody as a parole violator by execution of the warrant,' because ...

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