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Curtis L. Watson v. United States Parole Commission

June 26, 2012

CURTIS L. WATSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John D. Bates United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted.*fn1

I. BACKGROUND

In 1978, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, plaintiff was sentenced to an aggregate term of 30 years to life imprisonment. *fn2 See Compl. at 1. While in the District of Columbia's custody and serving his sentence at its Lorton Reformatory, on August 30, 1988, plaintiff "walked away from a Work Release program and . . . remained on escape status until [October 30, 1995] when he was arrested in Arizona." Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ("Def.'s Mem."), Ex. E (Hearing Summary dated October 21, 2011) at 3. Plaintiff was convicted of escape and on March 15, 1996, he was sentenced to a 12-month term of imprisonment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 751 to be served consecutively to the Superior Court sentence. See Compl., Ex. (Order, United States v. Watson, No. 1:88cr201 (E.D. Va. Dec. 28, 2007)) at 1.

Plaintiff's first parole hearing took place in 2004. Compl. at 3. As of November 8, 2004, he had been incarcerated for 316 months. See id., Ex. (Notice of Action dated November 16, 2004) at 1. The United States Parole Commission ("Commission") denied parole, see id., noting that an upward departure from the applicable parole guidelines was "warranted because . . . [plaintiff had] a 12-month consecutive term to follow [his] current sentence." Id. After a reconsideration hearing in October 2007, plaintiff ostensibly had been granted "[p]arole effective December 9, 2007 after service of 353 months to the consecutive 12 month term." Id., Ex. (Notice of Action dated November 20, 2007) at 1. The Commission, however, voided its decision because "[t]he Bureau of Prisons . . . determined that [plaintiff was] not eligible for parole until [April] 27, 2012." *fn3 Id., Ex. (Notice of Action dated December 18, 2007) at 1. A hearing was to be scheduled within nine months of petitioner's new parole eligibility date. Id.

Plaintiff's next parole hearing occurred on October 21, 2011. Def.'s Mem., Ex. E (Hearing Summary dated October 21, 2011) at 1. According to the Commission, as of October 30, 2011, plaintiff had been incarcerated for only 314 months. See Compl., Ex. (Notice of Action dated November 30, 2011) at 1. The Commission again denied parole, and continued the matter for another three years, to October 2014. Id.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Plaintiff's Claims

It is no easy task to decipher the claims plaintiff presents. The Court begins with plaintiff's assertion that he has "been resentenced by the whims of a rogue agency." Compl. at 4. The introductory statement to his complaint reads:

PETITONER [sic] CHALLENGES AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL THE AUTHORITY OF THE UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION TO GRANT OR DENY PAROLE TO THIS OLD LAW D.C. PRISONER WHEN THE D.C. SENTENCE HAS BEEN SERVED IN ITS ENTIRETY.

Id. at 1 (emphasis in original). The Court interprets this statement as a challenge to the Commission's authority to deny him parole and as a claim that he has served his entire Superior Court-imposed aggregate sentence. He thus contends, apparently, that his continued custody is unlawful and presumably he demands his immediate release.

In addition, plaintiff makes a passing reference, see Compl. at 3, to Sellmon v. Reilly, 551 F. Supp. 2d 66 (D.D.C. 2008), presumably for the purpose of alleging "that [the Commission] retroactively applied its own parole guidelines and practices so as to significantly increase the risk that [he] would serve [a] longer term [ ] of incarceration," id. at 68. Plaintiff further alleges that Sellmon in effect "voided all parole hearings from 2000 to 2008," and he demands a new parole hearing on this basis. See Compl. at 3 (emphasis in original). He also appears to argue that his 2011 parole hearing was invalid not only because it was deemed an initial hearing (notwithstanding prior parole hearings in 2004 and 2007), but also because the Commission applied the wrong parole regulations to his case. See id. at 3-4. Plaintiff demands "injunctive relief to stop this conduct." Id. at 4.

B. The Commission Is Authorized to Deny Plaintiff Parole

According to plaintiff, the Commission lacks the authority to deny him parole, see Compl. at 1, and in effect it has "resentenced" ...


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