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Kotz v. Lappin

October 10, 2007

ALVIN KOTZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARLEY G. LAPPIN, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AND AS AN INDIVIDUAL, AND FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document Nos.: 2, 3

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff is an inmate with the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), housed in Federal Correctional Institute ("FCI") Cumberland, Maryland. During the plaintiff's incarceration in FCI Cumberland, BOP initially admitted the plaintiff into the Residential Drug Abuse Program ("RDAP"). Individuals who successfully complete RDAP may receive a sentence reduction. Subsequent to his admission to RDAP, however, BOP officials determined that the plaintiff was ineligible for the sentence reduction. The plaintiff brings suit against Harley G. Lappin and the BOP (collectively "the defendant"), challenging this denial of eligibility. The plaintiff argues that because his successful completion of the program could result in his early release from prison, the defendant's actions violate his due process rights. The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, asking the court to reverse the defendant's refusal to allow the plaintiff to participate in RDAP and receive a sentence reduction. The defendant counters that, pursuant to BOP regulations, the plaintiff is not eligible for a sentence reduction because he previously completed RDAP and received a sentence reduction. Because the plaintiff has not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, the court denies the plaintiff's motion.

II. BACKGROUND

On October 31, 2005, the plaintiff was sentenced in the District of Maryland to 36 months incarceration, Pl.'s Mot. for Temp. Restraining Order ("Pl.'s Mot.") ¶ 1, and his current release date is August 17, 2008, Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss and Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. ("Def.'s Opp'n") at 6. At the time of sentencing, the judge recommended to the BOP that the plaintiff be allowed to participate in RDAP for drug treatment while serving his sentence. Id. All individuals who successfully complete RDAP receive a six-month placement in a Residential Re-Entry Center, or halfway house. Pl.'s Mot. ¶ 9. These individuals are also eligible for up to a 1-year sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e). Id. ¶ 10.

The plaintiff previously completed RDAP during an earlier term of incarceration and received a 10-month reduction in his sentence. Id. ¶ 2. In July 2005, in anticipation of the plaintiff's incarceration, Paul C. Kurtz, Executive Director of Federal Inmates Advocates sought confirmation from BOP that the plaintiff would be eligible to participate in the program a second time. Id. ¶ 2. Samuel Betts, administrator in the BOP Regional Office, informed Kurtz that the plaintiff's prior participation in RDAP "would not have disqualified him from eligibility for a sentence reduction . . . should he be accepted into RDAP a second time." Id. ¶ 3. The BOP admitted the plaintiff to the March 2006 class of RDAP.*fn1 Id. ¶ 5.

On January 23, 2006, BOP authorities advised the plaintiff that he was not eligible for a sentence reduction because he received a sentence reduction the first time he completed RDAP. Id. ¶ 6. Kurtz wrote to Simpson, requesting that he overrule the decision. Id. ¶ 7. On October 11, 2006, John M. Vanyur, BOP Assistant Director for Correctional Programs, denied the plaintiff's request to be placed in RDAP with eligibility for a sentence reduction. Id. ¶ 8. The plaintiff subsequently brought suit and filed motions for injunctive relief against the BOP to challenge its refusal to admit him into RDAP with the prospect of a sentence reduction.

Were the plaintiff allowed to participate in and successfully complete RDAP, and were he to receive the six-month early release to a halfway house, his prospective release date would be February 17, 2008. In addition, the plaintiff would be eligible for a 1-year sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e). Id. ¶ 10. Factoring this potential sentence reduction with the six-month release to a halfway house, the plaintiff estimates that his prospective release date would have been May 1, 2007, a date that passed prior to the plaintiff's filing of the instant suit. Id.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Injunctive Relief

This court may issue interim injunctive relief only when the movant demonstrates:

(1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, (2) that it would suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted, (3) that an injunction would not substantially injure other interested parties, and (4) that the public interest would be furthered by the injunction.

Mova Pharm. Corp. v. Shalala, 140 F.3d 1060, 1066 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (quoting CityFed Fin. Corp. v. Office of Thrift Supervision, 58 F.3d 738, 746 (D.C. Cir. 1995)); see also World Duty Free Americas, Inc. v. Summers, 94 F. Supp. 2d 61, 64 (D.D.C. 2000). It is particularly important for the movant to demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. Cf. Benten v. Kessler, 505 U.S. 1084, 1085 (1992) (per curiam). Indeed, absent a "substantial indication" of likely success on the merits, "there would be no justification for the court's intrusion into the ordinary processes of ...


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