United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
MAURICE HICKS JR. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
H.L. PEREZ-MONTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (28 U.S.C.
§ 2254) filed by pro se Petitioner Charles Wayne Sneed
(“Sneed”) (#80145). Sneed is an inmate in the
custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections,
incarcerated at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer,
Louisiana. Sneed claims that his due process rights are being
violated by the failure of state authorities to grant him
parole or to conduct a parole hearing.
Sneed does not have a liberty interest in being granted
parole, Sneed's petition should be denied and dismissed.
was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life
imprisonment at hard labor. State v. Sneed, 316
So.2d 372, 374 (La. 1975). Sneed was 17 years old at the time
of the offense. Id. Sneed alleges that he was
ordered to serve the first 20 years of his sentence without
the benefit of probation or parole. (Doc. 1, p. 2; Doc. 1-2,
p. 6). Sneed complains that he served over 20 years of his
sentence, but has been denied parole.
Sneed's most recent application for post-conviction
relief, which was denied by the trial court in August of
2016, Sneed claimed that his parole eligibility created a
liberty interest after he served 20 years of imprisonment.
(Doc. 6-1, p. 16). In an effort to overcome the untimeliness
of the application, Sneed relied on Montgomery v.
Louisiana, 136 S.Ct. 718, 732 (2016) (holding that the
prohibition on mandatory life without parole for juvenile
offenders addressed in Miller is a substantive rule
that is retroactive in cases on collateral review). The trial
court noted that Montgomery is not applicable
because Sneed was not sentenced to life without the benefit
of probation or parole. (Doc. 6-1, p. 17). Rather,
Sneed's sentence included the possibility of parole after
serving 20 years. The trial court dismissed Sneed's
application as repetitive. (Doc. 6-1, p. 17).
sought writs in the Louisiana Supreme Court, but writs were
denied. State ex rel. Sneed v. State, 2016-1339 (La.
1/9/18), 232 So.3d 548.
was considered for a commutation of sentence in 1994, which
was denied. (Doc. 6-1, p. 17). Sneed was informed by the
trial court that he must pursue his claims against the parole
board in the 19th JDC. (Doc. 1-2, p. 21). Under Louisiana
law, the 19th JDC has jurisdiction to consider complaints
concerning parole eligibility. See La. R.S.
15:571.15. According to the Clerk of Court for the 19th JDC,
Sneed has not file suit in that judicial district.
in denying writs, the Louisiana Supreme Court noted,
“[w]ith the enactment of 2017 La. Acts, No. 280 §
3, including R.S. 15:574.4(H), relator's eligibility for
parole consideration is no longer dependent upon a
commutation of his sentence to a fixed term of years, but
will instead be governed by the criteria set forth in R.S.
15:574.4(H).” State ex rel. Sneed v. State,
2016-1339 (La. 1/9/18), 232 So.3d 548. According to the
Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole, a parole hearing date
is set for Sneed on July 9, 2018.
Law and Analysis A. Sneed
cannot show that his custody is in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States.
federal court may entertain an application for a writ of
habeas corpus from a person in state custody only on the
ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution
or laws of the United States. See Trussell v.
Estelle, 699 F.2d 256, 259 (5th Cir. 1983). Sneed cannot
make such a showing. Sneed cites Greenholtz v. Inmates of
Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7
(1979), and claims that the sentence imposed upon him
promised parole, probation, or the suspension of sentence
after serving 20 years.
in Greenholtz, inmates from Nebraska filed suit
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending that the Nebraska
parole statutes and parole board procedures denied them
procedural due process. The Supreme Court rejected the
argument that the mere possibility of parole creates a
conditional liberty interest that involves constitutional
protection. Id. The Supreme Court found, however,
that the Nebraska statute at issue did provide for automatic
parole unless certain factors were found to exist. Thus, the
Court concluded that the Nebraska statute created an
expectancy of release that occasioned some constitutional
protection. See Irving v. Thigpen, 732 F.2d 1215,
1216 (5th Cir. 1984) (citing Greenholtz, 442 U.S. at
12). In reaching this conclusion, the Court emphasized the
“unique structure and language” of the Nebraska
statute, and mandated case-by-case evaluation of the statutes
of the other states. Id. Thus, there is no
constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be
conditionally released before the expiration of a valid
sentence. Id. A state may establish a parole system,
but it has no duty to do so. See Greenholtz, 442
U.S. at 7.
law has not created a liberty interest in parole that is
protected by the Due Process clause. See Stevenson v.
Louisiana Bd. Of Parole, 265 F.3d 1060 (5th Cir. 2001)
(citing Sinclair v. Ward, 205 F.3d 1338 (5th Cir.
1999) (Louisiana parole statutes do not give rise to a
constitutionally protected liberty interest in parole
release)). Louisiana prisoners may not challenge their parole
procedures under the Due Process Clause. See Stevenson v.
Louisiana Board of Parole, 265 F.3d 1060 (5th Cir.
2001). Inmates meeting standards contained in the law do have
a statutory right to parole consideration, but the Parole
Board has full discretion when ...