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11/24/92 CHARLES LUCK v. DISTRICT COLUMBIA

November 24, 1992

CHARLES LUCK, APPELLANT
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., APPELLEES



On Certification from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Before Ferren, Schwelb And Wagner, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Schwelb

SCHWELB, Associate Judge: On March 23, 1990, Charles Luck, a prisoner at Lorton Reformatory, filed this action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. He named as defendants the Chairman of the District's Parole Board and the Director of the District's Department of Corrections (DOC). Luck alleged that, in calculating the amount of time which he must serve on his sentence, the defendants had wrongfully denied him "good time" credit for "street" time which he had served on parole, in violation of the Good Time Credits Act of 1986 (GTCA), D.C. Code § 24-431 (a) (1989). He prayed that the court award him declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

While Luck's suit was pending, the DOC recalculated his sentence. The agency awarded Luck credit for a parole term which began after April 11, 1987, the effective date of the GTCA. The DOC declined, however, to credit Luck for an earlier term which began prior to April 11, 1987. As a result of the recomputation, the sole remaining issue was whether Luck was entitled to credit for pre-Act street time.

Each party filed a motion for summary judgment. On October 30, 1990, in an unpublished order (Luck I), United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth granted the defendants' motion, holding inter alia that the GTCA was prospective only and did not apply to the parole term which predated the Act.

Luck appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. On June 1, 1992, in an unpublished Memorandum Order (Luck II), the federal appellate court certified to this court, pursuant to D.C. Code § 11-723 (1989), the following question:

Did the District of Columbia Parole Board and the District of Columbia Department of Corrections properly interpret section 24-431 (a) of the Code of the District of Columbia in deciding that time spent on parole prior to April 11, 1987, cannot be credited against a person's sentence when that person's sentence is recomputed after April 11, 1987?

We answer the certified question in the affirmative.

I

THE FACTS *fn1

On April 7, 1970, Luck was sentenced in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to a combined term of eight to twenty-four years for the crimes of robbery, second degree burglary and grand larceny. On May 9, 1973 plaintiff escaped from custody. He was later apprehended in Maryland, and was subsequently prosecuted and convicted of an offense committed in that State. He remained incarcerated in Maryland until May 15, 1978. Upon the completion of his Maryland term, Luck was returned to the DOC to resume service of his original sentence.

On November 5, 1982, Luck was released on parole. On March 30, 1987, the Parole Board issued a warrant for his arrest for violations of the conditions of his release. On April 13, 1987, he was arrested on the Board's warrant. On May 22, 1987, the Board revoked plaintiff's parole, but immediately reparoled him, subject to his compliance with special conditions of narcotic surveillance and outpatient drug counseling. Luck was released to the community on July 1, 1987.

On August 21, 1989, the Board issued a second parole warrant for Luck's arrest, charging that he had failed to comply with the conditions of his release. Luck was apprehended and, following a new revocation hearing, the Board again revoked Luck's parole and remanded him to the custody of DOC to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Following the revocation of Luck's parole, the DOC recomputed the amount of time that Luck would be required to serve. Luck did not receive street time credit for the period which he had served on parole from November 1982 through April 1987. After initially also denying him credit for the second parole period, which began in July 1987 and ended in August 1989, the DOC ultimately credited Luck with the post-Act street time.

II

THE RELEVANT ...


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