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Lee v. Outlaw

September 27, 2007

JOHN BROWN LEE PETITIONER
v.
T.C. OUTLAW, WARDEN, FCI FORREST CITY, ARKANSAS RESPONDENT



MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THE PRIOR STATE AND FEDERAL PROCEEDINGS

The record reflects that on April 21, 2005, petitioner John Brownlee ("Brownlee") was arrested by officers with the Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department on charges of robbery and of being a felon in possession of a handgun. He was not released from custody following his arrest but was instead detained by authorities with the State of Tennessee.

On August 23, 2005, Brownlee was indicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee with being a felon in possession of a firearm, a charge that stemmed from his April 21, 2005, arrest. Desiring to arraign him on the indictment, federal authorities obtained custody of him from Tennessee authorities pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. On September 14, 2005, he was arraigned on the indictment. Following his indictment, he remained in federal custody.

On April 13, 2006, Brownlee pleaded guilty to the charge alleged in the federal indictment. On August 29, 2006, United States District Judge Jon Phipps McCalla sentenced Brownlee to sixty-four months in the custody of Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). In sentencing Brownlee, Judge McCalla made no mention of any charge or sentence that Brownlee was or might be facing in the future. On August 29, 2006, the same day he was sentenced, he was returned to the custody of Tennessee authorities.

On August 31, 2006, Brownlee pleaded guilty in Shelby County, Tennessee, Criminal Court to either assault or threat of bodily harm, a charge that stemmed from his April 21, 2005, arrest.*fn1 He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of eleven months, twenty-nine days, and the term was deemed to have commenced on April 22, 2005, or the day after his arrest. The judgment in that proceeding is significant in two respects: (1) it reflects that his sentence was to have been credited for the time he spent in custody from April 22, 2005, through August 31, 2006, or 497 days; and (2) it contains the notation that "this is intended to be a time served offer." See Document 5, Attachment 3 at 2.

Because Brownlee's eleven month, twenty-nine day state sentence was deemed to have commenced on April 22, 2005, and because he received credit on his state sentence for the time he had already spent in state custody, he was deemed to have completed his state sentence on the day it was imposed, that being, August 31, 2006. It appears that he nevertheless continued to be held by Tennessee authorities because he was awaiting transfer to federal custody. On September 5, 2006, Brownlee was transferred to federal custody and began serving his sixty-four month federal sentence. Brownlee eventually came to be housed at the Federal Correctional Complex - Medium Security Institution in Forrest City, Arkansas, the warden of which is respondent T.C. Outlaw ("Outlaw").

Upon entering federal custody, Brownlee began an attempt to have his current federal sentence be deemed to have commenced simultaneous with his completed state sentence. He pursued his administrative remedies with the BOP and, at some point, achieved some measure of success. The Court accepts Outlaw's representation that an administrative review revealed that Brownlee was never given credit on his completed state sentence for the first day he actually spent in state custody, that being, the day of his arrest. As a result, the BOP gave him credit on his current federal sentence for that one day. The Court also accepts Outlaw's representation that the administrative review revealed a second error in the manner in which Brownlee's current federal sentence was being computed; the error was as follows:

... Brownlee was sentenced in Tennessee state court to a term of 11 months, 29 days for Threat of Bodily Harm on August 31, 2006. An 11 month and 29 day sentence beginning on April 22, 2005, would be satisfied on April 19, 2006. However, ... Brownlee remained in Tennessee state custody until September 5, 2006. Moreover, ... Brownlee did not receive credit towards service of his Tennessee state sentence from April 20, 2006, through September 4, 2006. Therefore, when BOP staff reviewed ... Brownlee's federal sentence computation, he was awarded prior custody credit towards service of his current federal sentence from April 20, 2006, the day after satisfying his Tennessee state sentence, through September 4, 2006, the day prior to beginning his current federal sentence.

See Document 5 at 3-4.

THIS PROCEEDING

Brownlee commenced this proceeding by filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241. He maintained that the charge giving rise to his current federal sentence and the charge giving rise to his completed state sentence arose from the same criminal conduct. He maintained that as a result, his current federal sentence should be deemed to have commenced simultaneous with his completed state sentence. He additionally and/or alternatively maintained that he should be given credit on his current federal sentence for the time he spent in state custody past October 20, 2005, pursuant to a rule he identifies as the "fifty percent rule."*fn2

Outlaw filed an answer to Brownlee's petition. Outlaw maintained that it should be dismissed because Brownlee's current federal sentence has been properly credited and he is entitled to no additional credit for any time he spent in state custody.

The Court briefly reviewed the parties' submissions and determined that Brownlee should be invited to submit a response. He was so invited, and he accepted that invitation by filing his response. It provided the following:

Petitioner was arrested on ... April 21, 2005, [for] robbery and [being a] felon in [possession] of a handgun. The charges were the result of a single act. ... The petitioner would like to bring to the court's attention that he was arrested on both charges at [the] same time, [was] given one bond on both charges, and [was] indicted on both charges at the same time. ...


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