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DAVIS v. BROWN

March 31, 2004.

LAWRENCE DAVIS Petitioner,
v.
M.L. BROWN, et al. Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: EMMET SULLIVAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. Introduction

On April 8, 2002, petitioner Lawrence Davis filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus seeking release from custody at the District of Columbia Jail. Petitioner alleges that the revocation of his presumptive parole date, a decision initially made without an evidentiary hearing, violated his due process rights and his "liberty interest in remaining free." Pet. at 4. While petitioner seeks his release from confinement, he also originally sought "a [parole] rescission hearing . . . [with] the opportunity to challenge the evidence and confront his accusers." Id.

  Pending before the Court is the United States' Motion to Dismiss the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The United States argues that after the petition was filed, petitioner Page 2 received a special reconsideration hearing regarding his parole date rescission, and thus the petition is now moot. Upon careful consideration of the motion, the response and reply thereto, petitioner's supplemental memorandum, the governing statutory and case law, and for the following reasons, it is by the Court hereby ORDERED that defendant's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

  II. Factual and Procedural Background

  In 1994, petitioner was sentenced in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to six to eighteen years incarceration for attempted distribution of cocaine. He was paroled and released to the community in October of 1998. Prior to his release, petitioner's wife, Elizabeth Singleton, procured a civil protection order, prohibiting petitioner from contacting her or assaulting her in any way, and also ordering him to stay at least 100 feet away from his wife's person, home, and work place. On December 15, 1998, petitioner was arrested and charged with First Degree Sexual Abuse of Ms. Singleton. Petitioner appeared in court on December 16, 1998, and the charge was no papered. However, while Ms. Singleton was still in the courtroom on December 16th, awaiting the court's decision on the sexual abuse charge, the defendant allegedly whispered in her ear, "Bitch, you Page 3 broke your promise, now it's time to die." Ms. Singleton filed a complaint, alleging that petitioner had threatened her. The U.S. Probation Office asked Ms. Singleton to sign a statement about her allegations, but she did not. Despite the threat, the U.S. Probation Office recommended that petitioner remain on supervision pending the final disposition of his case.

  On March 23, 1999, Ivy Moorfield, Ms. Singleton's sister, called the Commission and stated that petitioner had murdered Ms. Singleton. The U.S. Probation Office informed the Commission that the petitioner was a suspect in the murder, but had not been arrested or charged.

  On March 26, 1999, the Probation Office requested the issuance of a warrant for petitioner for his failure to report a December 26, 1998, arrest on an outstanding warrant for domestic assault. The Commission did so, charging him with failing to report the arrest as well as violating the 1998 civil protection order by going to Ms. Singleton's residence on December 15, 1998. On April 27, 1999, following a preliminary interview, the Commission notified petitioner that it had found probable cause to hold him for a parole revocation hearing. On May 6, 1999, petitioner pled guilty to one count of violating a civil protection order, and received a 180 day sentence. Page 4

  On July 9, 1999, the Commission notified petitioner that he was also being charged with violating the civil protection order for his threat to kill his wife during the December 16, 1998, court hearing. Petitioner was represented by counsel at the July 20, 1999, parole revocation hearing, and the hearing examiner determined that petitioner had violated his parole. The examiner found that the most serious violation was petitioner's December 16, 1999, threat to kill his wife. According to the parole hearing summary, petitioner was asked how his wife was killed. However, the examiner did not make a finding on the topic of the murder, and the hearing report does not indicate that his wife's death was a factor considered in the parole revocation. See United States' Ex. 0, Revocation Hearing Summary. On August 27, 1999, the Commission issued a Notice of Action revoking petitioner's previous parole date and setting a presumptive parole date of November 29, 2002. However, after an interim hearing on July 17, 2001, the Commission modified the violation severity, and established an earlier parole date of January 18, 2002.

  After the July 17, 2001, interim hearing the Commission's legal office learned for the first time that a grand jury was considering petitioner's involvement in his wife's murder. As a result of this information, the Executive Hearing Examiner Page 5 recommended that petitioner not be reparoled. On January 2, 2002, the Commission reopened petitioner's case and rescinded his presumptive parole date, citing the fact that petitioner was the subject of an official investigation for the murder of his wife. The Commission informed petitioner that he would be scheduled for a reconsideration hearing as soon as the pending criminal investigation against him was concluded.

  Petitioner filed the instant habeas petition on April 8, 2002, alleging that an evidentiary hearing had never been held regarding his responsibility for his wife's murder. The government subsequently conducted a special reconsideration hearing on June 17, 2003. The hearing examiner determined by a preponderance of the evidence that petitioner had murdered Elizabeth Singleton. In explaining the finding, the examiner cited videotaped testimony from petitioner's 5-year-old son, taken the day after Ms. Singleton was murdered, in which the son described in detail being at Ms. Singleton's house with his father the day of the murder, waiting outside in the car and hearing sounds of a fight, and then going to his father's friends house in order for his father to "wash dishes" (which the hearing examiner inferred were possibly the knives used to stab Ms. Singleton); evidence that petitioner's DNA was found under Ms. Singleton's fingernails; and evidence that two knives were found Page 6 in petitioner's car. See United States' Ex. V. The examiner recommended that the petitioner continue his term until expiration, and the Commission adopted the examiner's recommendation on July 11, 2003.

  III. Analysis

  The United States moves to dismiss the petition on the grounds that, as the Commission subsequently conducted a special reconsideration hearing, petitioner has received all the relief to which he is entitled, and the petition is now moot. Petitioner advances three main arguments against dismissal: (1) that the United States did not have authority to reopen the parole decision and revoke the petitioner's presumptive parole date; (2) that the June 17, 2003, hearing was fundamentally unfair; and (3) that his ...


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