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Morris v. Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

April 7, 2015



KAREN L. HAYES, Magistrate Judge.

Pro se petitioner Kevin Morris, an inmate in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections (D.O.C.), filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2241 on February 2, 2015. Petitioner claims that the D.O.C. has erroneously calculated his sentence by depriving him of good time credits he should have earned for a prior conviction. This matter has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. §636 and the standing orders of the Court.


On December 12, 1994, petitioner was convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to serve 5 years at hard labor. He was given credit for time-served between the date of his arrest and the date of his conviction, but he was denied good time credits and consequently served the entire 5 year sentence. He completed the 5 year sentence and was released on May 20, 1999.

Thereafter, in 2005 petitioner was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm in the matter entitled State of Louisiana v. Kevin Morris, Docket No. 96, 358 of the Thirty-Ninth Judicial District Court, Red River Parish. He was sentenced to serve 15 years at hard labor without benefit of parole. [ See State v. Morris, 40, 413 (La.App. 2 Cir. 12/14/2005), 917 So.2d 745.]

On July 9, 2010, petitioner, who was then incarcerated at the Winn Corrections Center, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in this Court. In that petition he complained that he was denied good time credits with regard to the aggravated battery conviction and he sought restoration of those credits so that they could be applied toward the sentence he was presently serving. That petition was ultimately dismissed without prejudice on September 28, 2010 on the grounds that petitioner had failed to exhaust available State court remedies prior to filing suit. See Kevin Morris v. Warden Timothy Wilkinson, Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-1176.

Thereafter, in June 2013 he was convicted of entry onto or remaining where forbidden in Red River Parish and sentenced to serve 6 months. On July 22, 2013 petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus attacking that conviction. On January 6, 2014 his petition was denied and dismissed without prejudice based on petitioner's failure to exhaust available State court remedies. See Kevin Morris v. Warden Glen Edwards, Docket No. 5:13-cv-2317.

While in custody petitioner claims to have discovered that the statute which he claims was invoked to deny him good time eligibility on his aggravated battery sentence had been declared unconstitutional by the Nineteenth Judicial District Court, East Baton Rouge Parish, in the matter entitled Raymond Demoulin v. State of Louisiana, Docket Number488, 486. He then availed himself of the D.O.C.'s grievance process and citing Demoulin requested that the good time credits he was denied while serving his aggravated battery sentence be credited toward his current sentence. His grievance was ultimately denied on April 1, 2014, by the D.O.C. in the grievance assigned Case Number HDQ-2014-0847. In denying relief, the Secretary's designee noted, "The issues you are asserting is regarding a docket that has full termed in 1999." [Doc. 1-2, p. 1]

Petitioner apparently filed a civil action in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court sometime prior to September 2014; this action was entitled Kevin Morris v. La. Dept. of Public Safety & Corrections, et al., and was assigned Docket Number 629, 890. On September 8, 2014, the defendant filed an answer conceding exhaustion of administrative remedies but denying petitioner's claim that he was entitled to "... any credit toward his instant sentence for time allegedly owed on a previous sentence that he has completed." The defendant also alleged that "... any cause of action regarding a previously completed sentence in 1999 is prescribed." [Doc. 1-2, pp. 5-8] Petitioner did not provide a copy of the judgment of the Court, nor do his pleadings indicate whether the matter remains pending in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court or any other Louisiana Court.

Sometime in October 2014 petitioner apparently filed an application for post-conviction relief and a petition for writ of mandamus in the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In a letter dated February 26, 2015, to the Clerk of the Second Circuit, petitioner inquired as to the status of those filings.

A review of the presumptively reliable published jurisprudence of the Louisiana Supreme Court reveals no writ denials by that Court of pleadings filed by on or behalf of petitioner.

Law and Analysis

State prisoners, such as petitioner, may seek review of their custody under the federal habeas corpus statutes pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§2241 and 2254. Generally, habeas petitions filed pursuant to Section 2241 challenge the manner in which a sentence is executed, or attack the legality of prisoner's custody prior to conviction whereas Section 2254 provides the means to collaterally attack a state court conviction and sentence. See, e.g., Prieser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973) (recognizing that the specific remedy found in 28 U.S.C. § 2254 is recognized as the exclusive avenue for challenging the legality of a state court conviction); Carmona v. Andrews, 357 F.3d 535, 537 (5th Cir.2004) (distinguishing the jurisdiction conferred under § 2241 and § 2254 for purposes of venue); Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d 448, 451 (5th Cir.2000) (distinguishing mechanisms for post-conviction relief under § 2241 and § 2255).

The requirement of exhaustion of state court remedies in a federal habeas corpus proceeding filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254 is well established. A petitioner seeking federal habeas corpus relief cannot collaterally attack his state court conviction in federal court until he has exhausted available state remedies. Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 102 S.Ct. 1198 (1982); Minor v. Lucas, 697 F.2d 697 (5th Cir. 1983). The exhaustion requirement is a judicial abstention policy developed "to protect the state courts' opportunity to confront and resolve initially any constitutional issues arising within their jurisdictions as well as to limit federal interference in the state adjudicatory process." Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275, 92 S.Ct. 509 (1971); Shute v. Texas, 117 F.3d 233 (5th Cir. 1997). In order to satisfy the exhaustion requirement, the petitioner must have provided all state courts that could review the matter with a fair opportunity to review all of his habeas ...

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