Before Steadman and Ruiz, Associate Judges, and Gallagher, Senior
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gallagher, Senior Judge
Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(Hon. Iraline Green Barnes, Trial Judge)
Opinion for the court by Senior Judge Gallagher.
Dissenting opinion by Associate Judge Ruiz at p. .
Appellants Maurice D. Davis, Randall P. Martin, and Mark E. Childs are parole violators under the supervision of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections ("DOC"). In accordance with a policy reached in 1987 by the District of Columbia Corporation Counsel ("Corporation Counsel") and implemented by the DOC, these parole violators had their prison sentences reduced by the amount of time spent on parole prior to their parole violations (i.e., "street time credit"). In United States Parole Comm'n v. Noble, 693 A.2d 1084 (D.C. 1997), aff'd on reh'g en banc, 711 A.2d 85 (D.C. 1998), this court rejected the Corporation Counsel's opinion and held that parole violators must forfeit accrued street time credit. After Noble, the DOC retroactively withdrew appellants' street time credit and restored their prison sentences to their original length of time. Appellants each filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus objecting to the DOC's retroactive application of Noble to their sentences. The trial court denied appellants' petitions for a writ of habeas corpus. We affirm.
D.C. Code § 24-206 (a) (1996) provides that when a prisoner violates parole "[t]he time [the] prisoner was on parole shall not be taken into account to diminish the time for which he was sentenced." This statute, enacted in 1932, has never been repealed and was enforced by the DOC until 1987.
In 1987, the District of Columbia enacted D.C. Code § 24-431 (a) (1996) as part of the Good Time Credits Act. *fn1 In an issued opinion, the Corporation Counsel mistakenly interpreted D.C. Code § 24-431 (a) as impliedly repealing D.C. Code § 24-206 (a). In accordance with the Corporation Counsel's opinion, the DOC began crediting accrued street time for parole violators. However, the United States Parole Commission ("USPC"), the federal agency responsible for supervising the parole of District of Columbia offenders who had been housed in federal penitentiaries, *fn2 did not adopt the Corporation Counsel's interpretation and continued its practice of withdrawing street time credit for parole violators, pursuant to D.C. Code § 24-206 (a). The discordant practices of the DOC and the USPC continued until the Noble decision in 1998.
In Noble, this court rejected the Corporation Counsel's interpretation of the two statutes and held that parole violators could not have their sentences reduced by their time spent on parole prior to revocation. 693 A.2d at 1105. The effect of the Noble decision was twofold: (1) it required the DOC to return to its pre-1987 practice in accordance with D.C. Code § 24-206 (a), and (2) it brought the DOC's practice back into accord with the USPC, which had continued to enforce D.C. Code § 24-206 (a) as related. Noble did not decide, however, whether the DOC should apply its holding retroactively or prospectively, but merely "flag[ged] the question." Id. at 1104. Therefore, the sole issue in this appeal is whether Noble should be applied retroactively to those prisoners who, like appellants, violated their parole prior to our decision in Noble.
Appellants argue that the four-factor balancing test established in Mendes v. Johnson, 389 A.2d 781 (D.C. 1978) (en banc) *fn3 requires a prospective-only application of Noble. *fn4 The District of Columbia, on the other hand, contends that the Mendes analysis is not applicable because the Noble decision did not announce a new rule of law, and thus Noble should be applied retroactively.
"[A] threshold requirement for depriving a decision of retroactive effect is that such decision 'must establish a new principle of law, either by overruling clear past precedent . . . or by deciding an issue of first impression whose resolution was not clearly foreshadowed.'" O'Connell v. Maryland Steel Erectors, Inc., 495 A.2d 1134, 1137 (D.C. 1985) (quoting Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97, 106 (1971) (emphasis added)). *f ...