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CUNNINGHAM v. WILLIAMS

May 12, 1989

EUGENE JEROME CUNNINGHAM, Petitioner,
v.
HALLEM H. WILLIAMS, Respondent, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Intervenor


Joyce Hens Green, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

JOYCE HENS GREEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Eugene Jerome Cunningham filed the instant petition for habeas corpus on December 30, 1988, asserting that his mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years, imposed for his conviction for first-degree felony murder in 1973, should be reduced pursuant to the provisions of the District of Columbia Good Time Credits Act of 1986 (the "Act"). Petitioner claims that respondent's failure to grant him good time credits under the Act violates his rights to equal protection and due process and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Having considered Mr. Cunningham's petition, the response of Hallem H. Williams Jr., the opposition and supplemental opposition of the United States, *fn1" petitioner's reply, and the entire record, the petition is granted and respondent is directed to recalculate petitioner's minimum sentence by awarding Mr. Cunningham good time credits, as appropriate, in accordance with the Act.

 I. BACKGROUND

 On March 23, 1973, after he was found guilty of first degree felony murder in violation of D.C. Code § 22-2401 before Judge George L. Hart of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, petitioner was sentenced to a minimum of not less than twenty years imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment. The penalty for first degree murder in the District of Columbia is set forth at D.C. Code § 22-2404 which states in relevant part:

 
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person convicted of first-degree murder and upon whom a sentence of life imprisonment is imposed shall be eligible for parole only after the expiration of 20 years from the date he commences to serve his sentence.

 In 1986, the District of Columbia enacted the District of Columbia Good Time Credits Act of 1986. As codified, it states in relevant part:

 
Every person who is convicted of a violation of a District of Columbia ("District") criminal law by a court in the District of Columbia, imprisoned in a District correctional facility, and whose conduct is in conformity with all applicable institutional rules is entitled to good time credits in accordance with the provisions of this section.

 D.C. Code § 24-428(a).

 The Act also provided certain exceptions to the provision for institutional good time credits. The Enrolled Original of the 1986 Act provided:

 
Sec. 8. Exceptions
 
Institutional and educational good time credits shall not be applied to the minimum terms of persons sentenced under the District of Columbia Mandatory-Minimum Sentences Initiative of 1981, effective March 9, 1982 (D.C. Law 4-166; D.C. Code, secs. 22-3202, 33-501 & ...

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