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Wold v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

October 9, 2018

JACOB WOLD, Petitioner,
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, Respondent.

          ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT DOCKET NO. 14

          VERONICA L. DUFFY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on the pro se habeas petition of Jacob Wold, an inmate at the Yankton Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota. See Docket No. 1. The parties have consented to this magistrate judge deciding their case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pending is respondent's motion for summary judgment Mr. Wold's petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. See Docket No. 14. For the reasons more fully discussed below, the court grants respondent's motion.

         FACTS

         Respondent submitted a statement of undisputed material facts. See Docket No. 18. Mr. Wold did not formally dispute this statement. In his brief in opposition to respondent's motion, Mr. Wold set forth his own statement of facts. Mr. Wold's statement does not conflict with respondent's statement. The court accordingly sets forth respondent's statement of facts herein, supplemented where indicated by additional facts supplied by Mr. Wold.

         Mr. Wold was sentenced in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on June 26, 2006, to an 88-month term of imprisonment for a federal drug offense. See Docket No. 18 at ¶ 1. He was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release following his release from prison. Id. at ¶ 2. At Mr. Wold's sentencing hearing, the court applied a two-point adjustment under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”) because he possessed a firearm or dangerous weapon in connection with his drug crime. Id. at p. 4, ¶¶ 17-19.

         Mr. Wold served out his term of imprisonment and began serving his three-year term of supervised release on this conviction on February 17, 2012. Id. at pp. 1-2, ¶ 3. Thereafter, he became involved in illegal drug activity once again. Id. at p. 2, ¶¶ 4-6. This activity resulted in a petition to revoke supervised release being filed in his 2006 case and a new indictment dated October 3, 2012, both in the Western District of Wisconsin. Id. In his 2012 case, Mr. Wold entered into a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in return for the other charge of the indictment being dropped. Id. Mr. Wold also admitted to violating the terms of supervised release in his 2006 case, resulting in his supervised release being revoked. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.

         On April 24, 2013, Mr. Wold was sentenced in both cases. Id. at pp. 2-3, ¶¶ 7 & 10. The court imposed a 120-month (10-year) term of imprisonment in his new 2012 case and a 15-month term of imprisonment in his 2006 case. Id. Both sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with each other. Id.

         The Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) aggregated these two sentences and treated them as a single sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3584(c). Id. at p. 3, ¶¶ 11-13. Thus, the BOP considers Mr. Wold to be serving a single 120-month term of imprisonment. Id.

         Mr. Wold began serving his 10-year sentence of incarceration at Milan Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, and was subsequently transferred to the Yankton Federal Prison Camp where he now resides. In June, 2017, while at Yankton, Mr. Wold interviewed for the residential drug abuse program (RDAP) and was approved to attend the program.[1] Mr. Wold believed when he enrolled in RDAP that he would be eligible for an early release incentive. However, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) subsequently informed him he was not.[2]

         On July 21, 2017, the BOP completed an offense review for Mr. Wold. Id. at p. 3, ¶ 14. Applying a BOP regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 550.55(b), the BOP determined that Mr. Wold's “current offense” precludes him from eligibility for the RDAP early release consideration. Id. at ¶ 15. This is because the “current offense” (i.e. his 2006 conviction) involved the carrying, possession, or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon or explosives” and “by its nature or conduct, presents a serious risk of physical force against the person or property of another.” Id. The BOP has issued program statement 5162.05 which provides that an inmate who was convicted of a federal drug crime and who received an enhancement under the USSG for the use or possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon is not eligible for consideration for early release under RDAP. Id. at ¶ 16. Thus, because the BOP considers Mr. Wold's 2006 conviction to be his current conviction, and because that conviction included an enhancement under the USSG for possessing a firearm, the BOP has determined Mr. Wold is not eligible to be considered for early release under RDAP.[3]

         Mr. Wold filed an administrative grievance regarding the RDAP early release incentive and exhausted his administrative remedies. He now asks the court to declare the BOP's calculation of his sentence to be unconstitutional and to grant habeas relief in the form of declaring him to be eligible for the early release consideration under the RDAP.[4]

         Respondent moves to dismiss Mr. Wold's habeas petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. See Docket No. 14. Under the established facts and the law, respondent argues, Mr. Wold is not entitled to habeas relief. Id. Mr. Wold opposes respondent's motion. See Docket No. 24.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         The respondent has moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), or alternatively for summary judgment under Rule 56 on Mr. Wold's claim. In support of his motion, the respondent has submitted a declaration with supporting documents. Docket 19. Respondent has also submitted a statement of undisputed facts. Docket 18.

         Rule 12(b)(6), requires the court to evaluate the sufficiency of a plaintiff's pleading of a claim in his or her complaint. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). Courts evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion are not strictly limited to evaluating the complaint, however. Dittmer Properties, L.P. v. F.D.I.C., 708 F.3d 1011, 1021 (8th Cir. 2013). They may consider “matters incorporated by reference or integral to the claim, items subject to judicial notice, matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint whose authenticity is unquestioned.” Id. (citing Miller v. Redwood Toxicology Lab., Inc., 688 F.3d 928, 931 n.3 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting 5B Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Fed. Practice & Procedure § 1357 (3d ed. 2004))).

         Rule 56, the rule for summary judgment, allows the court to consider affidavits, documents, deposition transcripts and other items extraneous to the complaint in determining whether to grant the motion. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. In this district, a summary judgment motion also requires the movant to file, and the nonmovant to respond to, a statement of undisputed material facts. See DSD L.R. 56.1A and B. Here, respondent filed a declaration with accompanying exhibits (such as copies of the judgments from Mr. Wold's federal criminal files), and a statement of undisputed material facts in support of his motion to dismiss. Because the respondent explicitly moved in the alternative for summary judgment and filed a statement of undisputed facts, the court construes the respondent's motion as one for summary judgment.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment shall issue in favor of the movant only if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).

         The court must view the facts, and inferences from those facts, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Matsushita Elec. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986) (citing United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)); Helton v. Southland Racing Corp., 600 F.3d 954, 957 (8th Cir. 2010) (per curiam). Summary judgment will not lie if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Allison v. Flexway Trucking, Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66 (8th Cir. 1994).

         The burden is placed on the moving party to establish both the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once the movant has met its burden, the nonmoving party may not simply rest on the allegations in the pleadings, but must set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e) (each party must properly support its own assertions of fact and properly address the opposing party's assertions of fact, as required by Rule 56(c)).

         The underlying substantive law identifies which facts are “material” for purposes of a motion for summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. “Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” Id.(citing 10A Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2725, at 93-95 (3d ed. 1983)). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 247-48.

         Essentially, the availability of summary judgment turns on whether a proper jury question is presented: “The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial-whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.” Id. at 250. Here, this matter is well suited to resolution by summary judgment as there appears to be no dispute of any facts. The parties' arguments center solely on questions of law.

         B. Analysis of Mr. Wold's Petition for Habeas Relief

         Some bedrock principles require stating before analyzing Mr. Wold's contentions. A petition seeking habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is appropriate if the petitioner is challenging the fact or duration of his confinement. Preiser v. Rodriquez, 411 U.S. 475, 490 (1973). The writ may issue if the defendant demonstrates he is in custody in violation of the federal Constitution, laws, or treaties. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). Here, the subject matter of Mr. Wold's request for habeas relief falls squarely within the ambit of § 2241 because he is not attacking his underlying conviction, but only the length of his sentence as calculated by the BOP-i.e. the fact that the BOP will not consider granting him early release.

         Next, even if Mr. Wold demonstrates he is eligible for consideration of early release by virtue of successfully completing RDAP, the BOP would have the discretion to grant him early release, but would not be required to grant such release. 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)(2)(B)[5]; Lopez v. Davis, 531 U.S. 230, 241 (2001) (“[w]hen an eligible prisoner successfully completes drug treatment, the [BOP] . . . has authority, but not the duty, . . . to reduce his term of imprisonment.”). No. prisoner has any constitutional or statutory right to early release. Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal and Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7 (1979).

         Finally, administrative decisions by the BOP in interpreting the grant of authority to it by Congress under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3621-3625 are not subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). See 18 U.S.C. § 3625 (stating that the provisions of the APA (sections 554, 555 and 701-706) “do not apply” to any determination, decision or order under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3621-3625). The BOP has authority to manage inmate drug treatment programs such as RDAP by virtue of 18 U.S.C. § 3621. Allowing prisoners to bring habeas petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to challenge the BOP's discretionary determinations made pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3621 would be inconsistent with the language of 18 U.S.C. § 3625. Reeb v. Thomas, 636 F.3d 1224, 1228 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Only if the BOP acts contrary to established federal law, violates the Constitution, or exceeds its statutory authority do courts have jurisdiction to review BOP action under the specified statutes. Id.; Accord, Gatewood v. T.C. Outlaw, 560 F.3d 843, 846-47, n. 2 (8th Cir. 2009) (“§ 3625 may well preclude judicial review of BOP decisions applying the final rule and program statement to particular inmates.”); Martin v. Gerlinski, 133 F.3d 1076, 1079 (8th Cir. 1998) (“Accordingly it is apparent that § 3625 precludes judicial review of agency adjudicative decisions but not of rulemaking decisions.”).

         1. The BOP Did Not Act Contrary to Established Federal Law, in Violation of the Constitution, or in ...


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