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James Edward Ramsey v. Thomas Faust

May 6, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge


This matter is before the Court on James Edward Ramsey's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, as amended.*fn1 For the reasons discussed below, the petition will be denied and this action will be dismissed.


On June 6, 1984, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, petitioner was sentenced to a five to 15 year term of imprisonment on his conviction for assault with intent to commit rape, an offense committed on December 23, 1978. United States' Opp'n to the Pet'r's Pet. for a Writ of Habeas Corpus ("Gov't Opp'n"), at 2; see id., Ex. 1-2 (Judgment and Commitment Order dated June 6, 1984 and excerpt from presentence report, respectively). At the time of sentencing, petitioner was serving a prison term in Virginia; upon his parole by the Virginia authorities on April 7, 1988, he was returned to the District of Columbia to begin to serve the sentence imposed by the Superior Court. See id., Ex. 3-4 (Certificate of Discharge, Virginia Parole Board, dated September 23, 1988 and Face Sheet dated January 14, 1992, respectively). The former District of Columbia Board of Parole ("Parole Board") released petitioner on August 27, 1992.*fn2 Id., Ex. 6 (Certificate of Parole dated February 27, 1992). Petitioner was to remain under supervision until April 11, 2003. Id., Ex. 6 at 1.

On December 1, 1997, the Parole Board issued a warrant for petitioner's arrest on charges of having violated two administrative conditions of his parole release. See id., Ex. 9 (Warrant No. PE-32627-97 dated December 1, 1997). Specifically, plaintiff had not kept his parole officer informed of his address and employment, and he otherwise had not followed his parole officer's instructions. Id., Ex. 7 (Report of Alleged Violation(s) dated October 28, 1997) at 1-2. For these reasons, he was deemed to have "absconded from Parole Supervision." Id., Ex. 7 at 3. At that time, the Parole Board was not aware that petitioner had been convicted and sentenced in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, in November 1996, to a 15-year term of imprisonment for armed robbery and aggravated vehicle hijacking/weapon. Id., Ex. 10 (Order of Sentence and Commitment to Illinois Department of Corrections dated November 27, 1996). Upon receipt of this information, the United States Parole Commission ("USPC"), which by then had assumed parole authority with respect to District of Columbia Code offenders, see D.C. Code § 22-131(a), directed that the Parole Board's warrant be lodged as a detainer with the Illinois authorities. Gov't Opp'n, Ex. 13 (Letter to Blair Leibach, Warden, Danville Correction Center, Danville, Illinois, from Steve Gagliardi, Case Analyst, USPC, dated December 2, 2002). In addition, USPC charged petitioner with an additional violation of the conditions of his parole release: a law violation arising from his arrest and conviction in Illinois for armed robbery and aggravated vehicular hijacking with a weapon. Id., Ex. 14 (Supplement dated December 12, 2002). Upon petitioner's release by the Illinois authorities, the Parole Board's warrant was executed on February 21, 2003. Id., Ex. 17 (Warrant return dated February 21, 2003).

USPC conducted a parole revocation hearing on April 21, 2003 at which petitioner was represented by counsel. Id., Ex. 19 (Revocation Hearing Summary dated April 21, 2003) at 1. Petitioner admitted the Illinois convictions and thereby admitted his guilt for the law violations with which he was charged. Id., Ex. 19 at 2. USPC revoked parole. Id., Ex. 20 (Notice of Action dated May 6, 2003) at 1. When petitioner was reparoled on August 26, 2003, he was to remain under supervision until October 2, 2013. Id., Ex. 21 (Certificate of Parole dated August 26, 2003) at 1.

Between 2003 and 2009, USPC issued three letters of reprimand to petitioner, id., Ex. 23, 25 and 29 (Letters of Reprimand dated May 28, 2004, March 10, 2005, and March 20, 2007, respectively), imposed additional conditions of release because of petitioner's continued drug use, id., Ex. 27 (Notice of Action dated March 28, 2006), revoked parole in 2008, id., Ex. 31 (Notice of Action dated August 21, 2008), and reparoled petitioner in 2009, id., Ex. 32 (Certificate of Parole to Detaining Authorities dated July 10, 2009), to a Maryland detainer warrant. In addition, as recommended by the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency ("CSOSA"), USPC made petitioner "subject to the Special Sex Offender Aftercare Condition," which could require in-patient or out-patient mental health treatment "with special emphasis on long-term sex offender testing and treatment." Id., Ex. 27 at 1; see id., Ex. 26 (Letter to USPC from CSOSA dated February 24, 2006). As of the date of petitioner's release to the custody of the Maryland authorities, he was to remain under USPC supervision until July 12, 2018. Id., Ex. 32.

Most recently, following a revocation hearing on October 1, 2012, USPC revoked petitioner's parole yet again, directing him to remain in custody until the expiration of his sentence, id., Ex. 34 (Notice of Action dated October 11, 2012), on or about December 26, 2016, id., Ex. 35 (Inmate Locator).


From the Court's review of the original petition [ECF No. 1] and subsequent amendments [ECF Nos. 3, 16 and 21], petitioner presents two issues: (1) whether USPC was authorized to supplement the former Parole Board's December 1, 1997 warrant, to revoke parole in 2003, and to otherwise cause his return to custody; and (2) whether petitioner lawfully can be required to register as a sex offender.*fn4

A. USPC's Authority

1. USPC's Actions Do Not Violate the Separation of Powers Doctrine

Petitioner contends that USPC exercised judicial functions and that its "decisions violate[] the separation of power[s]" doctrine. Am. Pet. [ECF No. 3] at 2. He claims that USPC has subjected him "to a sentence he did not have," particularly because it required that he register for life as a sex offender. Id. at 4. He is mistaken.

USPC has full authority to grant, deny, and revoke parole, and to impose or modify conditions of parole. See D.C. Code § 24-131(a); see also Franklin v. District of Columbia, 163 F. 3d 625, 632 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (acknowledging that the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 105-33, § 11231(a)(1), 111 Stat. 712, 745 (1997), transferred to the USPC "the jurisdiction and authority of the Board of Parole of the District of Columbia to grant and deny parole, and to impose conditions upon an order of parole, in the case of any imprisoned felon who is eligible for parole or reparole under the District of Columbia Code"). The statutes under which USPC operates "govern the execution of a judicially imposed sentence." Moore v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, No. 10-1987, 2011 WL 550003, at *1 (D.D.C. Feb. 10, 2011). Proceedings pertaining to parole are not part of a criminal prosecution. Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 480 (1972). Rather, such proceedings are separate administrative matters "at which the parolee does not possess the same rights as a criminal defendant at trial." Maddox v. Elzie, 238 F.3d 437, 445 (D.C. Cir. 2001). USPC has no authority to impose a prison sentence upon conviction for a crime under District of Columbia law; this authority rests with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. See D.C. Code § 11-923(b) (granting jurisdiction to Superior Court over any criminal case under District of Columbia law). USPC, therefore, exercises no judicial function, and its decisions do not violate the separation of powers doctrine. Geraghty v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 719 F.2d 1199, 1211-12 (3d Cir. 1983); Artez v. Mulcrone, 673 F.2d 1169, 1170 (10th Cir. 1982); Page v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 651 F.2d 1083, ...

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