United States District Court, District of Columbia
appearing pro se, are two prisoners incarcerated at
the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. They have
filed a complaint against members of the United States
Sentencing Commission in their individual and official
capacities and have moved to proceed in forma
pauperis ("IFP"). The IFP motion will be
granted, and this case will be dismissed pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915A (requiring dismissal of a prisoner's
case upon a determination that the complaint fails to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted).
are serving federal sentences for '"possession or
sale" of crack cocaine. Compl. ¶ 1. In this action,
"each plaintiff complains of violations of his federal
Constitutional rights, secured under the Eighth Amendment, to
protections from cruel and unusual punishment manifested
through both disparity and excessiveness of federal prisoner
sentences." Id. ¶ 2. Plaintiffs fault the
defendants for promulgating the federal sentencing
guidelines, which "were used to sentence each plaintiff
to prison for a lengthy term." Id. ¶ 3.
Plaintiffs were sentenced under the guidelines that were in
effect before enactment of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010
("FSA"). They assert that the FSA's enactment
has "'resulted in [their] grossly excessive and
disparate sentences." Compl. ¶ 3, and "but for
the date of sentencing, they would have been subject to far
more lenient guideline ranges, " id. ¶ 5.
Plaintiffs posit that ''the policies, practices and
customs of the individual defendants" are racially
motivated because they are black and '"are part of a
large pool of racial minority inmates experiencing the same
constitutional deprivations." Id. ¶6.
state: "Nothing in this suit is intended to be or should
be construed as a collateral attack or other attack upon the
convictions of any plaintiff." Compl. ¶ 1. While
that may be true in a literal sense, plaintiffs are clearly
challenging the constitutionality of their
sentences. It is established that "'the sole
remedy for a federal prisoner challenging the legality of his
conviction or sentence" is 28 U.S.C. §
2255. Day v. Trump, 860 F.3d 686, 691
(D.C. Cir. 2017) (emphasis added). And that remedy must be
pursued by motion in "the court which imposed the
sentence[.]" 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Plaintiffs do not
identify their courts of conviction but neither appears to
have been convicted in this court. See, e.g.. United
Slates v. Doggins, 633 F.3d 379 (5th Cir. 2011)
(affirming drug convictions in the Eastern District of
plaintiffs are not required to seek habeas relief because
their success here would not "necessarily imply the
invalidity" of their sentences, Davis v. U.S.
Sentencing Comm'n, 716 F.3d 660, 666 (D.C. Cir.
2013), they have stated no claim to support the requested
seek nominal damages, Compl. ¶ 19, but the Commissioners
enjoy absolute immunity from suit for monetary damages based
on acts, as alleged here, taken in accordance with their
"rulemaking power." Rivera v. Saris, 130
F.Supp.3d 397, 402 (D.D.C. 2015), affd sub nom.
Rivera v. Carr. 672 Fed.Appx. 14 (D.C. Cir. 2016).
Plaintiffs also seek a declaratory judgment with regard to
retroactivity and injunctive relief, including "in the
form of directed changes to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Manual wherein all cases and in all prior and future
amendments an explicit § 994(u) statement is added
directing" retroactive application of the FSA "when
any new sentencing guideline results in a computation of
sentence that is lower than previous sentences for like
situated offenders with similar offenses[.]"' Compl.
¶ 19. But "the Supreme Court already has explained
the degree to which the FSA is retroactive."
United Stales v. Wooden, 953 F.Supp.2d 64,
66-67 (D.D.C. 2013) (discussing Dorsey). And
Congress, consistent with the Commission's retroactivity
decision, has provided a remedy as follows:
[I]n the case of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term
of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has
subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(o), upon motion of the defendant or
the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or on its own motion,
the [sentencing] court may reduce the term of imprisonment,
after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to
the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is
consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2); see Davis, 716 F.3d at
662 (explaining that "in response to the [FSA], the
Commission issued Amendment 750, " reducing the crack
cocaine ratio, and made the amendment retroactive to
"allow[ ] inmates convicted based on the old sentencing
ranges to seek discretionary sentence reductions under 18
U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)"). As a result, this case will
be dismissed. A separate order accompanies this Memorandum
 SeeDorseyv. United States,
567 U.S. 260, 264, 132 S.Ct. 2321, 2326, 182 L.Ed.2d 250
(2012) ("In 2010, Congress enacted a new statute
reducing the crack-to-powder cocaine disparity from 100-to-l
to 18-to-l) (citing Fair Sentencing Act, 124 Stat.
Plaintiffs appear to raise a systemic
challenge on behalf of "a subset" of prisoners,
Compl. ¶ 6. but, as applicable here, pro se
parties are limited to "'plead[ing] and conducting]
their own cases personally[.]" 28 U.S.C §
 Plaintiffs state that "each
defendant is sued individually under the theory set out in
Bivens v Six Unknown Agents of the Federal
Bureau of Narcotics,405 U.S. 388 (1971), " Compl.
at 4, but such a claim is premature under Heck v.
Humphrey,512 U.S. 477 (1994). See Harris v.
Fulwood, 611 Fed.App'x 1, 2 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (per
curiam) (Heck applies "no matter the relief
sought (damages or equitable relief) . . . if success in
[the] action would necessarily ...