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Watt v. C.V. Rivera

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division

April 1, 2016

SHELDON DEAN CHRISTOPHER WATT Reg. #XXXXX-XXX, Petitioner,
v.
C V. RIVERA, Warden FCI Forrest City Low, Respondent.

PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

J. THOMAS RAY, Magistrate Judge.

INSTRUCTIONS

The following Proposed Findings and Recommended Disposition ("Recommendation") have been sent to United States District Judge J. Leon Holmes. You may file written objections to all or part of this Recommendation. If you do so, those objections must: (1) specifically explain the factual and/or legal basis for your objection; and (2) be received by the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this Recommendation. By not objecting, you may waive the right to appeal questions of fact.

I. Background

Pending before the Court is a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Sheldon Dean Christopher Watt ("Watt"), an inmate in the Federal Correctional Institution in Forrest City, Arkansas ("FCI-FC"). Doc. 1. In his habeas papers, he challenges the Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") denial of a "nearer release transfer" based on an allegedly "erroneous" immigration detainer.[1]

Before addressing Watt's claims, the Court will review the relevant procedural history. According to Watt, he was born in Jamaica but entered the United States when he was three years old. In 1993, when he was twelve years old, his biological parents became naturalized American citizens. Watt claims that, because his parents became American citizens before his eighteenth birthday, he also gained "derivative citizenship" at that time. Doc. 1 at 5, 11, 19; Doc. 13.

In September 2006, Watt was convicted, in the Middle District of Florida, of: (1) conspiracy to assault with intent to rob a United States Post Office employee; (2) assault with intent to rob a United States Post Office employee; (3) use and carrying of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence; (4) receipt, possession, concealment or disposal of unlawfully obtained United States mail; and (5) possession of an unlawful firearm. United States v. Watt, M.D. Fla. No. 5:06-cr-00032-WTH. On December 28, 2006, he was sentenced to an aggregate imprisonment term of 240 months in the BOP.[2] Doc. 6-1. The Presentence Investigation Report stated that he was a Jamaican citizen with "resident alien" status. Doc. 6-2 at 3.

On July 25, 2007, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Watt's convictions. United States v. Watt, 243 F.Appx. 512 (11th Cir. 2007).

On September 11, 2007, the United States Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), sent to the BOP an "Immigration Detainer - Notice of Action." Doc. 6-3. The detainer stated: (1) Watt's "nationality" is Jamaican; (2) an "[i]nvestigation has been initiated to determine whether this person is subject to removal from the United States"; and (3) the document should be "accept[ed] as a detainer, " but was "for notification purposes only" and did not "limit [the BOP's] discretion in any decision affecting the offender's classification, work, and quarters assignments, or other treatment which he or she would otherwise receive." Finally, the detainer requested the BOP to notify ICE at least thirty days prior to Watt's release. Id.

On October 8, 2014, while incarcerated at FCI-FC, Watt submitted an "Informal Resolution Attempt" challenging the BOP's denial of his request for a "closer-to-home transfer." Doc. 1 at 19. FCI-FC staff responded that, pursuant to BOP Program Statement 5100.08, [3] Watt was not eligible for transfer because he had "a detainer for possible deportation filed by [ICE]." Id . at 18. Watt then filed a formal grievance, which the warden rejected. Id . at 17. Watt appealed. Id . at 15.

On December, 12, 2014, the BOP Regional Director denied his appeal, stating that the warden had "appropriately addressed [Watt's] concerns, " based on BOP Program Statement 5100.08 and Watt's status as a Jamaican citizen, with an ICE detainer for possible deportation lodged against him. The Regional Director stated that, if it was later determined that Watt would not be deported, he would be considered for a nearer release transfer at that time. Id . at 13. [4]

On June 4, 2015, Watt initiated this § 2241 action. He argues that the BOP is improperly denying him a "nearer release transfer" due to the ICE detainer, which allegedly is based on erroneous information that he not a United States citizen. Doc. 1. He argues that the detainer, and the BOP's denial of transfer based on that detainer, violate his constitutional rights as a United States citizen. Doc. 10 at 3-5. Respondent contends that Watt's claims are not cognizable in a federal habeas action. Doc. 6.

For the reasons explained below, the Court recommends that Watt's claims be dismissed ...


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