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Holmes v. Thomas

United States District Court, Southern District of New York

August 5, 2014

CURTIS HOLMES, Petitioner
v.
J.E. THOMAS, ET AL., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

John G. Koeltl, District Judge

The petitioner, Curtis Holmes, has filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The petitioner seeks an order requiring the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to transfer him, temporarily, to a correctional facility located within the geographic boundaries of New York State. The respondent, J.E. Thomas, the Warden of the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (“USP Lewisburg”) where the petitioner is currently imprisoned, has moved to transfer this petition to the Middle District of Pennsylvania where USP Lewisburg is located, or alternatively to dismiss this action. Tina M. Stanford, the Chairwoman of the Board of Parole of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“NYSDOC”) who has been added as a respondent, has moved to dismiss the petition against her. For the reasons explained below, Stanford’s motion to dismiss her is granted and the remaining petition is transferred to the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

I.

On April 26, 2010, the petitioner pleaded guilty in this Court to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, and one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). (Knepper Decl. at 3.)[1] On September 8, 2010, this Court sentenced the petitioner to a term of incarceration of 97 months on the conspiracy count, and 84 months on the substantive count, to run consecutively. (Knepper Decl. at 3-4.) The petitioner is currently incarcerated at USP Lewisburg, and his projected release date is March 21, 2022, (Knepper Decl. at 10.)

At the time of his arrest and conviction on the federal charges, the petitioner was subject to parole supervision by New York State. On June 18, 2012, after the petitioner was sentenced on the federal charges, the NYSDOC lodged a detainer (the “detainer”) against the petitioner for violating the conditions of his New York State parole. (Pet. at Ex. A.)

The petitioner subsequently sought information about New York State’s parole violation process from the NYSDOC. (Supp. to Pet. at Ex. B.) By correspondence dated March 7, 2013, the NYSDOC Regional Director informed the petitioner that the parole violation process could commence when the petitioner was within the geographic boundaries of New York State, irrespective of the type or location of the correctional facility in which the petitioner was incarcerated. (Supp. to Pet. at Ex. B.) The petitioner then requested that the NYSDOC conduct his parole violation hearing by a conference call. (Knepper Decl. at 22.) The NYSDOC denied the petitioner’s request because the petitioner was not incarcerated within the geographic boundaries of New York State. (Knepper Decl. at 22.)

In early April 2013, the petitioner submitted a letter to this Court requesting that the Court order that the BOP temporarily transfer the petitioner to a correctional facility in New York State, so that New York State could hold a parole violation hearing in connection with the detainer. (Knepper Decl. at 21.) In an Order dated April 9, 2013, this Court noted that it was without authority to direct that the petitioner be transferred to a correctional facility in New York State because the authority to direct a transfer was committed to the discretion of the BOP. (Knepper Decl. at 20.) The Court also noted that the petitioner’s request appeared reasonable and requested that the government forward the request to the BOP. (Knepper Decl. at 20.)

In a letter submitted to the Court on April 22, 2013, the BOP represented that it could not transfer the petitioner to a correctional facility in New York State because of the petitioner’s high security classification and penitentiary designation. (Knepper Decl. at 24.)[2] This petition followed.

II.

The petitioner filed this petition on June 17, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the district in which USP Lewisburg is located. (Pet. at 1.) The petition initially named USP Lewisburg Warden J.E. Thomas as the sole respondent. (Pet. at 1.)

In his petition, the petitioner requests that he be temporarily transferred “to a holding facility within the [j]urisdiction of New York. So that a Parole hearing [can] be conducted . . . .” (Pet. at 5.) The petitioner argues that BOP’s failure to transfer him to a correctional facility in New York State has prevented him from eliminating the detainer against him, and therefore increased his custody score and deprived him of his right to participate in various treatment and rehabilitation programs offered to federal inmates. (Pet. at 4-5.) The petitioner contends that if transferred to a facility in New York, and given a parole violation hearing, he could eliminate the detainer by obtaining a judgment that would run the remainder of his time under the parole supervision of NYSDOC concurrently with the time he is currently serving pursuant to his federal sentence. (Pet. at 4-5.) The petitioner also requests in the alternative that the Court order a video conference in order to allow the parties to conduct the parole violation hearing without undue expense or delay. (Pet. at 5.)

On July 15, 2013, Judge Matthew Brann referred the petition to Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick for a report and recommendation. Magistrate Judge Mehalchick determined that the petitioner was challenging the provisions of the detainer lodged by NYSDOC and, accordingly, concluded that the petitioner’s custodian was the New York State official who lodged the detainer against him, rather than his federal warden. Holmes v. Thomas, No. 13cv1624, 2014 WL 691395, at *3 (M.D.P.A. Feb. 21, 2014). Magistrate Judge Mehalchick therefore recommended that the petition be transferred to this Court. Id.

There were no objections to the Report and Recommendation and Judge Brann adopted the Report and Recommendation in its entirety and ordered that the petition be transferred to this Court. Id. at 1. After reviewing the petition, this Court ordered that the Board of Parole Chairwoman for the NYSDOC, Tina Stanford, be added as a respondent. (Order, ECF No. 14.) The Court then granted Respondent Thomas leave to file a motion to transfer or dismiss the petition, ...


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