D.C. Parole Board's prior order granting her reparole to supervision, the Defendant's Superior Court sentence runs concurrently to that imposed by this Court on August 16, 1994 or, rather, whether this Court's sentence must run consecutively to the Defendant's completion of her sentence on the Superior Court conviction.
The Court observes that the facts of this case implicate three possible release dates. First, if the Defendant were to complete her federal sentence without interruption, she would be released from federal custody on February 28, 1995. Second, however, if the Superior Court sentence were allowed to run concurrently with the Defendant's federal sentence, she would not ultimately be released from D.C. custody until March 6, 1995, the date on which her Superior Court sentence terminates. Lastly, if the sentences were allowed to run consecutively, the Defendant must complete her Superior Court sentence before recommencing her federal sentence, which shall run with credit for time served as a result of the federal charges. Under this last scenario, the Defendant would be released from custody on July 19, 1995.
It is the Defendant's position that, at the time of her sentencing in this case, she was committed to the custody of the United States Bureau of Prisons for service of her federal sentence, and that the D.C. Parole Board's unilateral decision in October of 1994 to rescind their earlier grant of reparole to supervision did not and could not operate to stop this Court's sentence from running.
The Government takes a different view, arguing that, because the Court uttered neither the word "concurrent" nor the word "consecutive" at the time of the oral pronouncement of sentence, and because the Court was advised at the time of sentencing that the Defendant had been paroled by the District of Columbia Superior Court, it is obvious that the Court was dealing only with the federal conviction.
Absent a specific ruling that the sentences run concurrently, the Government argues, the sentences must be calculated to run consecutively.
The Court agrees with the Government, but does so for legal, as well as purely logical, reasons. As the Government argues and the transcript of the relevant portion of the sentencing hearing demonstrates, which is attached hereto as Exhibit D and made a part hereof, the Court was silent at sentencing as to whether the Defendant's federal sentence would run consecutively or concurrently with any pending state sentence. Nevertheless, the Court did know at that time that the Defendant had been granted reparole to supervision on a Superior Court sentence and was, therefore, under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court. See Exhibit B. Thus, as noted above, for counsel to suggest that the Defendant owed no obligations to the Superior Court on her D.C. Code conviction at the time of sentencing and that, as a result, this Court could not have intended that the sentences run consecutively (or, for that matter, concurrently), is incorrect.
While the oral pronouncement of sentence governs, the Judgment and Commitment Order in the instant case, which is attached hereto as Exhibit E and made a part hereof, is consistent with the Court's oral pronouncement of sentence. Hill v. U.S. ex rel Wampler, 298 U.S. 460, 465, 80 L. Ed. 1283, 56 S. Ct. 760 (1936) ("The court speaks through its judgment, and not through any other medium."); Kennedy v. Reid, 101 U.S. App. D.C. 400, 249 F.2d 492, 495 (D.C. Cir. 1975) (oral pronouncement of sentence constitutes the judgment of the Court).
Nevertheless, although it is undisputed that the sentence imposed on August 16, 1994 was appropriate and proper, the Court is now faced with the question of how to interpret its sentence in light of the subsequent rescindment of the D.C. Parole Board's prior decision to reparole the Defendant to supervision. Because the Court was silent at sentencing as to whether its sentence would run concurrent or consecutive to any other sentence, it must look to the law with respect to the applicable presumption under these circumstances.
Prior to 1984, Congress provided little guidance as to whether sentences ran concurrently or consecutively when the Judge was silent as to either at sentencing. The most relevant statutory provision prior to the Sentencing Reform Act was 18 U.S.C. § 3568, and this gave rise to conflicting interpretations regarding a federal district court's authority to impose a sentence consecutive or concurrent to a state term.
See United States v. Hardesty, 958 F.2d 910, 912-14 (9th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 122 L. Ed. 2d 797, 113 S. Ct. 1429 (1993) (recognizing conflict between circuits), and cases cited therein. Compare United States v. Terrovona, 785 F.2d 767 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1186, 91 L. Ed. 2d 553, 106 S. Ct. 2926 (1986) (district court lacked authority to order that a sentence be served either consecutively or concurrently and could only make a recommendation to the Bureau of Prisons) with United States v. Thornton, 710 F.2d 513 (1983) (while 18 U.S.C. § 3568 limited the authority of judges to order concurrent terms, there was no corresponding limit on their authority to order that sentences be served consecutively).
Nevertheless, many pre-1984 courts addressing the issue of whether sentences should run concurrently or consecutively resolved it on principles of lenity, invoking "the general rule of statutory construction" favoring a "milder penalty over a harsher one." Government of the Virgin Islands v. Douglas, 812 F.2d 822, 833 (3d Cir. 1987) (internal quotation marks omitted). See also Downey v. United States, 67 App. D.C. 192, 91 F.2d 223, 229 (D.C. Cir. 1937) (As "'serious uncertainty in criminal sentences must be resolved in favor of liberty,' the sentences originally recorded, if not subject to correction, must be construed as concurrent.") (quoting Aderhold v. McCarthy, 65 F.2d 452, 453 (C.C.A.5 1933)); United States v. Pugliese, 860 F.2d 25, 30 (2d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1067, 103 L. Ed. 2d 813, 109 S. Ct. 1344 (1989) (sentence imposed on given count is presumed to be concurrent with other federal sentences unless otherwise stated); United States v. Wingender, 711 F.2d 869, 870 (9th Cir. 1983) (same); Schurmann v. United States, 658 F.2d 389, 391 (5th Cir. 1981) (same).
With the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, Pub.L. 98-473, Title II, c. II, § 212(a)(2), Stat. 2000, however, Congress "expressly granted judges authority to make these decisions," Hardesty, 958 F.2d at 910, and codified the alternative presumption, to wit, that sentences imposed at different times run consecutively. 18 U.S.C. § 3584(a).
The United States Sentencing Commission, which was established by Title II if the 1984 Act, 28 U.S.C. § 991, followed the statutory presumption to provide in even stronger terms that sentences imposed at different times generally run consecutively:
If the instant offense was committed while the defendant was serving a term of imprisonment (including work release, furlough, or escape status) or after sentencing for, but before commencing service of, such term of imprisonment, the sentence for the instant offense shall be imposed to run consecutively to the undischarged term of imprisonment.
U.S.S.G. § 5G1.3 (emphasis added).
Courts have since applied the statutory presumption to run sentences imposed at different times consecutively, absent a particular finding to the contrary.
See, e.g., United States v. Olivares-Martinez, 767 F.2d 1135, 1137-38 (5th Cir. 1985) (where Texas District Court revoked defendant's parole following rearrest in Arkansas on separate charge, under § 3584(a), Texas court properly reinstated its sentence to run consecutively to intervening sentence imposed on Arkansas conviction); United States v. Ballard, 6 F.3d 1502, 1505 (11th Cir. 1993) ("statute and analogous Sentencing Guidelines evince a preference for consecutive sentences when imprisonment terms are imposed at different times"); United States v. Lastra, 297 U.S. App. D.C. 380, 973 F.2d 952, 954 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (Under 18 U.S.C. § 3584(a), "multiple terms of imprisonment imposed at different times run consecutively unless the court orders that the terms run concurrently."); United States v. Wills, 881 F.2d 823, 826 n.2 (9th Cir. 1989) ("Section 3584 operates as a rule of construction that, when the judge is silent as to whether a sentence is to be consecutive or concurrent, if the several sentences are imposed at different times, the sentences are construed as consecutive sentences. But the judge could, by expressing otherwise, change that result."). Cf. Germaine v. United States, 760 F. Supp. 41 (E.D.N.Y. 1991) (applying earlier courts' presumption in favor of concurrent sentences without addressing the intervening statutory presumption codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3584).
In the instant case, the D.C. Superior Court sentence and this Court's sentence were imposed at different times, so the statutory presumption applies and the sentences must run consecutively. Thus, the Court finds that the Defendant's sentence must stand at eight months incarceration, with credit for time served as a result of her federal sentence, and one year of Supervised Release with a special condition that she serve four months in a half-way house. The Defendant must receive credit from June 30, 1994, the date on which she was granted reparole to supervision on her Superior Court sentence, through October 12, 1994, the date upon which the D.C. Parole Board rescinded their July 29, 1994 decision to grant her reparole to supervision. The Defendant is not entitled to credit for time served as of June 30, 1994, the date of her arrest for the federal charge of forgery, because at that time she was, in fact, in custody as a result of her D.C. parole violation. 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b).
See also United States v. Garcia-Gutierrez, 835 F.2d 585, 586 (5th Cir. 1988) (federal prisoner not entitled to credit against federal sentence for time served in state custody between the time of state arrest and the lodging of a federal detainer or for the period served under the state sentence prior to judgment remanding him to federal custody).
Once the Defendant completes her Superior Court sentence, her federal sentence will recommence, and she must serve the balance of the same before she is finally released from custody. Accordingly, deducting the period of time from May 17, 1994 through October 12, 1994 from the Defendant's eight month sentence, the Court finds that Defendant must be released on July 19, 1995.
As the Government observes, while this resolution perfects the Court's intention that the Defendant receive credit for time served from presentment to sentence, it does not render this Court's sentence concurrent with the Defendant's Superior Court sentence which, as the applicable law reveals, would be contrary to the prevailing presumption in favor of consecutive sentences under these circumstances. This result is also in keeping with the "dual sovereignty principle," which holds that "each sovereign must respect not only the sentencing authority of the other, but also the sentence." Ballard, 6 F.3d at 1509. Under this principle, "which court sentences first is irrelevant." Id. Rather, "each sovereign is entitled to have the defendant serve its respective sentence, and the defendant cannot choose the order of those sentences." Id. at 1510. As the Eleventh Circuit observed in Ballard, "the consecutive sentence imposed by the federal court in this case preserves that prerogative for both sovereigns, while a prospective concurrent sentence would not." Id.
Upon careful consideration of the pleadings, the applicable law and the entire record in this case, the Court finds that the Defendant's Motion to Amend Sentence, treated as a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion, shall be denied. The Court's ruling is without prejudice to the right of the Defendant to assert any appropriate claims for habeas or other relief in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. See Glenn-El v. Koehane, 1989 WL 10635, 1 (D.D.C.) (petitioner serving sentence for violation of the D.C. Code must test the legality of his or her confinement in Superior Court). See also D.C. Code § 23-110(g) (vesting subject matter jurisdiction in the Superior Court over collateral attacks on convictions in that court).
The Court wishes to emphasize that all parties involved, including the attorneys, the United States Probation Office, and the Court, have expended a considerable amount of time and effort on this important matter in order to afford the Defendant a thorough and just resolution, as promptly as possible.
Moreover, there can be no question that Ms. Blue, the Defendant in the case at bar, has long had a drug problem which has led her to the tragic situation before the Court today. The Court thus expresses the hope that the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the United States Probation Office of this Court will look carefully at Ms. Blue's needs so as to see that she is provided with all the treatment and guidance that a human being suffering from addiction needs and deserves.
The Court shall issue an Order of even date herewith consistent with the foregoing Memorandum Opinion.
January 28, 1995
CHARLES R. RICHEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
For all the reasons set forth in this Court's Memorandum Opinion of even date herewith, it is, by the Court, this 28 day of January, 1995,
ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion to Amend Sentence, treated as a Motion made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, shall be, and hereby is, DENIED, without prejudice to the right of the Defendant to assert any proper claims before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
CHARLES R. RICHEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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