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Ramsey v. United States Parole Comm'n

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

March 4, 2015

CHARLES W. RAMSEY, JR., Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION, Respondent

For CHARLES W. RAMSEY, JR., Petitioner(1:13-cv-01003-PLF): Beverly G. Dyer, LEAD ATTORNEY, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER FOR D.C., Washington, DC.

For UNITED STATES PAROLE COMMISSION, Respondent(1:13-cv-01003-PLF): Sherri Lee Berthrong, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff(1:95-cr-00326-PLF): John Philip Dominguez, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC; Judith Kozlowski, Mary Ann Snow, Sherri Lee Berthrong, LEAD ATTORNEYS, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

PAUL L. FRIEDMAN, United States District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by Charles W. Ramsey, Jr. Mr. Ramsey seeks to terminate or, alternatively, to recalculate the terms of his parole. He alleges that the United States Parole Commission has improperly maintained parole authority over him, or that, at the very least, it has improperly calculated his parole term, in violation of a plea agreement reached with the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia and in contravention of a decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Upon consideration of the petition, the government's response, and Mr. Ramsey's reply, as well as the relevant legal authorities and the entire record in this case, the Court will deny the petition and dismiss the case.[1]

I. BACKGROUND

On February 14, 1975, Mr. Ramsey was sentenced by a judge of this Court to serve thirty years in prison for importation of cocaine with intent to distribute, to be followed by a six-year special parole term. United States v. Ramsey, Criminal No. 74-623 (D.D.C.). At the same time, he was also sentenced to a two-year term of imprisonment for unlawful possession of a pistol, that sentence to run consecutive to the sentence in the narcotics case. United States v. Ramsey, Criminal No. 74-624 (D.D.C.). The following year, on June 18, 1976, Mr. Ramsey was sentenced by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to serve fifteen years in prison for conspiracy to violate the federal narcotics laws, that sentence to run concurrently with the District of Columbia sentences. United States v. Ramsey, Criminal No. 75-1112 (S.D.N.Y.). The Bureau of Prisons combined these three sentences, resulting in an aggregate maximum sentence of thirty-two years, to be followed by a six-year term of special parole. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-3 at 29. On May 14, 1989, Mr. Ramsey was released on parole in all three of these cases to supervision in the District of Columbia with up to 6,484 days remaining to be served in the event of revocation. Id. at 22-31. His term of regular parole was scheduled to terminate on February 13, 2007. Id. at 30; see also Resp., Dkt. No. 3-4.

On November 21, 1995, while on parole, Mr. Ramsey was arrested in the District of Columbia for unlawful possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. United States v. Ramsey, Criminal No. 95-0326 (D.D.C.). Based on this arrest, the Parole Commission issued a parole violator warrant which was placed as a detainer pending his release from custody in this 1995 case. Pet., Dkt. No. 1-4.[2] After a six-day trial before the undersigned and a jury, Mr. Ramsey was found guilty of unlawful possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(ii). Resp., Dkt. No. 3-7. Under the then-mandatory Sentencing Guidelines, he was sentenced by this Court on December 17, 1997 to 210 months' imprisonment, followed by eight years of supervised release. Id. Mr. Ramsey was designated to the Federal Correctional Institution at Beckley (" FCI Beckley" ) in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The parole violator warrant previously issued by the Parole Commission was placed as a detainer against Mr. Ramsey. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-6. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed Mr. Ramsey's conviction and sentence. United States v. Ramsey, 165 F.3d 980, 334 U.S.App.D.C. 193 (D.C. Cir. 1999).

On August 16, 2000, Mr. Ramsey filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence from this conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment. United States v. Ramsey, 323 F.Supp.2d 27, 29 (D.D.C. 2004). On July 1, 2004, after an evidentiary hearing, this Court found ineffective assistance of counsel, granted the motion for relief under Section 2255, vacated the conviction and sentence, and ordered a new trial. Id. at 44. The government filed a notice of appeal, but later withdrew it. Rather than pursue the appeal or proceed with a new trial, the government initiated plea discussions with Mr. Ramsey and his new lawyer. Pursuant to the plea agreement, dated November 30, 2004 (" 2004 Plea Agreement" ), Mr. Ramsey agreed to plead guilty to Count One of the original indictment, charging unlawful possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine. Pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the parties agreed on a sentence of " time served" (approximately 109 months), to be followed by eight years of supervised release. 2004 Plea Agreement ¶ 6 [Exhibit 12 to Dkt. No. 3 in Civil Action No. 06-0637 (S.D. W. Va.)].[3]

Under the Plea Agreement, Mr. Ramsey also agreed to accept the final version of the 1996 presentence investigation report that was used by this Court in connection with the sentence imposed on December 17, 1997, including the offense conduct section, as a factual basis for his 2004 plea. 2004 Plea Agreement ¶ 3. The parties agreed not to contest any portion of the 1996 presentence investigation report at sentencing, on appeal, or in connection with any post-conviction petition. Id. The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia also agreed not to prosecute Mr. Ramsey " for any other charges arising out of the transaction and events" that were the subject of the indictment or the guilty plea. Id. ¶ 5. Paragraph 6 of the Plea Agreement stated, in relevant part:

Since the sentence is to be time served, the parties contemplate that the defendant will be processed for release by the U.S. Marshals Service in the cell block of the U.S. Courthouse and will be released to commence his period of supervised release from there without being returned to any other prison facility.

Id. ¶ 6. In that same paragraph, the Plea Agreement acknowledged Mr. Ramsey's " immediate eligibility for supervised release." Id. On December 15, 2004, the Court accepted Mr. Ramsey's guilty plea and sentenced him to time served followed by eight years of supervised release under Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. See Resp., Dkt. No. 3-8.

When Mr. Ramsey was released from custody on December 15, 2004 pursuant to the Plea Agreement, the parole violator warrant was executed and Mr. Ramsey was held as a parole violator in his 1974 and 1975 District of Columbia and Southern District of New York cases, Criminal Nos. 74-623 (D.D.C.), 74-624 (D.D.C.), and 75-1112 (S.D.N.Y.). See Pet., Dkt. No. 1-7; Resp., Dkt. No. 3-9. The Parole Commission held a parole revocation hearing on February 16, 2005 at FCI Beckley, where Mr. Ramsey was incarcerated. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-10. The hearing examiner determined that based on his 2004 plea in this case and the acknowledged factual basis for the plea, it was established that Mr. Ramsey had violated the conditions of his release in the earlier cases. Id. at 2. The hearing examiner also found that Mr. Ramsey's offense behavior was rated as " Category 8," the highest possible severity, because this offense involved more than thirty-seven kilograms of cocaine. Id. His Salient Factor Score was 2. Id. In its Notice of Action on March 14, 2005, the Parole Commission revoked Mr. Ramsey's parole, denied credit for the time spent on parole, and set a presumptive reparole date of October 21, 2014. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-11. Mr. Ramsey appealed the decision to the Parole Commission's National Appeals Board, arguing that there were " especially mitigating circumstances" that justified a more lenient decision, citing his age and good behavior while incarcerated, and the fact that his offense did not involve acts or threats of violence. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-12. The National Appeals Board reviewed the appeal and affirmed the Parole Commission's decision, finding that the circumstances Mr. Ramsey raised were not sufficiently mitigating to warrant a more lenient decision. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-13.[4]

On August 16, 2006, while incarcerated at FCI Beckley in West Virginia, Mr. Ramsey filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Ramsey v. Felts, Civil Action No. 06-0637 (S.D. W.Va. 2007) [Dkt. No. 2]. Based upon her extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law, the magistrate judge assigned to the case recommended that the court grant Mr. Ramsey's habeas corpus petition. Ramsey v. Felts, Civil Action No. 06-0637, 2007 WL 2310037 (S.D. W.Va. 2007) [Dkt. No. 30]. On August 7, 2007, the district court adopted the findings and recommendation of the magistrate judge and granted Mr. Ramsey's habeas corpus petition. Judgment Order, Ramsey v. Felts, Civil Action No. 06-0637, (S.D. W.Va. 2007) [Dkt. No. 31]. The district court found that the Parole Commission's action -- its incarceration of Mr. Ramsey as a parole violator based on his 2004 plea and conviction before this Court in Criminal No. 95-0326 -- was unanticipated by the 2004 Plea Agreement and resulted in a failure by the government to honor the terms and intent of the Agreement. Id. The court ordered that Mr. Ramsey be immediately released to commence his period of supervised release in the instant case. Id.

Mr. Ramsey was released from FCI Beckley on August 8, 2007 pursuant to the order of the Southern District of West Virginia to begin his term of supervised release in Criminal No. 95-0326. Pet., Dkt. No. 1-13. The Parole Commission then granted Mr. Ramsey parole in Criminal Nos. 74-623 (D.D.C.), 74-624 (D.D.C.), and 75-1112 (S.D.N.Y.) with up to 5,519 days remaining to be served in the event of revocation. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-3 at 8-15; Dkt. No. 3-18. According to the Certificate of Parole, Mr. Ramsey was to remain under parole supervision through September 17, 2022. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-19. The Parole Commission's decision was not appealable. Id.

On January 28, 2010, while on supervised release in Criminal No. 95-0326 (D.D.C) and on parole in the earlier cases, Criminal Nos. 74-623 (D.D.C.), 74-624 (D.D.C.), and 75-1112 (S.D.N.Y.), Mr. Ramsey was arrested and charged in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with maintaining a gambling premises. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-21. On April 26, 2010, he was convicted in a non-jury trial and sentenced by Judge Florence Pan in Superior Court Case No. 2010-CMD-2044 to 45 days' imprisonment. Id. On May 14, 2010, after a hearing, this Court found that Mr. Ramsey had violated the terms of supervised release and therefore revoked his supervised release, but concluded that no further sentence or supervised release should be imposed. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-24.

On May 17, 2010, the Parole Commission issued a parole violator warrant against Mr. Ramsey based on his gambling premises conviction in the Superior Court. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-20. The warrant was executed on June 10, 2010 after Mr. Ramsey's release from imprisonment on the Superior Court sentence. Id. Mr. Ramsey received a parole revocation hearing on September 22, 2010 at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was then incarcerated. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-22. The Parole Commission found that Mr. Ramsey had violated the conditions of his parole by engaging in the conduct underlying his conviction for maintaining a gambling premises. It revoked Mr. Ramsey's parole in Criminal Nos. 74-623 (D.D.C.), 74-624 (D.D.C.), and 75-1112 (S.D.N.Y.), forfeited the time he had spent on parole since his release from FCI Beckley in 2007, and set a reparole date of April 21, 2011 after service of an additional twelve months in prison, with up to 5,519 days remaining to be served in the event of a further parole violation. Resp., Dkt. No. 3-23. The Salient Factor Score was 2. Id. The Parole Commission's Notice of Action indicated that the decision was appealable, id., but Mr. Ramsey did not appeal. Mr. Ramsey served this twelve-month sentence for violating parole at Rivers Correctional Institution (" CI Rivers" ) in Winton, North Carolina. Mr. Ramsey was released on parole on April 21, 2011; he is to remain under parole supervision until July 16, 2025. See Resp., Dkt. No. 3-25.

On November 5, 2010, while incarcerated at CI Rivers in North Carolina, Mr. Ramsey filed a motion in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia seeking to enforce that court's August 7, 2007 order. Motion, Ramsey v. Felts, Civil Action No. 06-0637 (S.D. W.Va. 2007) [Dkt. No. 34]. He argued that his continued incarceration at CI Rivers on a parole violation determination breached the terms of the 2004 Plea Agreement in this Court and the 2007 West Virginia order requiring his immediate release to a term of supervised release. Id. Mr. Ramsey requested that the federal court in West Virginia find that his parole terminated on December 14, 2004 as a result of the plea agreement or, in the alternative, on August 7, 2007, the date of the decision from the Southern District of West Virginia. Memorandum at 1-2, Ramsey v. Felts, Civil Action No. 06-0637 (S.D. W.Va. 2007) [Dkt. No. 35].

On December 7, 2010, the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia construed Mr. Ramsey's motion to enforce the Plea Agreement and the 2007 order as another petition for habeas corpus relief under Section 2241 because " the motion attacks the execution of the petitioner's sentence." Order, Ramsey v. Felts, Civil Action No. 06-0637 (S.D. W.Va. 2007) [Dkt. No. 39]. While noting that Mr. Ramsey's claim " may have some merit," the court ordered that the matter be transferred to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, which had jurisdiction over Mr. Ramsey's custodian, the warden of CI Rivers. Id. On December 20, 2010, Mr. Ramsey filed a motion requesting that the court vacate its transfer order and retain jurisdiction over the case. Motion, Ramsey v. Felts, Civil Action No. 06-0637 (S.D. W.Va. 2007) [Dkt. No. 40]. On ...


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