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Warren v. Warden

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

January 23, 2019

LAMONT L. WARREN, Petitioner
WARDEN, Respondent

          DEE D. DRELL JUDGE



         Before the Court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (28 U.S.C. § 2241) filed by pro se Plaintiff Lamont L. Warren (“Warren”) (#11245-007). Warren is an inmate in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”), incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana. Warren was convicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Warren challenges the denial of parole by the United States Parole Commission.

         Because Warren cannot show that his custody is in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, his petition should be denied and dismissed.

         I. Background

         Warren was convicted in the D.C. Superior Court of “an array of crimes, including assault with intent to kill while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, carrying a pistol without a license, and voluntary manslaughter while armed.” (3:11-cv-01479, M.D. Penn., Doc. 12, p. 1). Warren states that he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 20 years to life. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Warren was denied parole in July 2015 and May 2018. (Doc. 1, p. 4).

         II. Law and Analysis

         Section 2241 vests the federal district courts with jurisdiction to grant a writ of habeas corpus to persons in custody in violation of the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3).

         The United States Parole Commission (“USPC”) has exclusive jurisdiction over parole decisions for all D.C. felony offenders, including the exclusive authority to amend or supplement regulations interpreting or implementing the parole laws applicable to these offenders. See Hunter v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 406 Fed.Appx. 879, 880 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997, Pub.L. No. 105-33, § 11231(a)(1), 111 Stat. 712, 745 (1997)). Pursuant to this authority, the USPC amended D.C.'s parole guidelines in 1998 and 2000. See id. (citing Fletcher v. Reilly, 433 F.3d 867, 870 (D.C. Cir. 2006)).

         First, “there is no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence.” Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal & Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7 (1979). Similarly, the parole laws and regulations developed by the District of Columbia do not give rise to a constitutionally protected interest in parole. Ellis v. District of Columbia, 84 F.3d 1413, 1420 (D.C. Cir. 1996).

         Congress has given the USPC absolute discretion concerning matters of parole. See Maddox v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 821 F.2d 997, 999 (5th Cir. 1987). According to D.C. Code 24-404(a), when a prisoner meets certain criteria, “the Commission may authorize his release on parole.” Id. (emphasis added). Administrative guidelines for parole decisions operate only to provide a framework for the Commission's exercise of its authority. See Portley v. Grossman, 444 U.S. 1311, 1312 (1980); 28 C.F.R. § 2.20(c). The Commission's decisions involving parole will not be disturbed absent flagrant, unwarranted, or unauthorized action. See Maddox, 821 F.2d at 1000; Stroud v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 668 F.2d 843, 846 (5th Cir. 1982); Page v. United States Parole Commission, 651 F.2d 1083, 1085 (5th Cir. 1981). A Commission determination is only reversible by a court if the decision is so arbitrary and capricious as to be beyond the Commission's discretion, or violative of the prisoner's constitutional rights. See Brown v. Lundgren, 528 F.2d 1050, 1054 (5th Cir. 1976).

         Warren alleges that he was denied parole due to his history of disciplinary infractions and because he was “aggressive and inappropriate.” (Doc. 1, p. 5). Warren does not allege any abuse of discretion by the Commission. He does not claim that the Commission exceeded its authority, acted unconstitutionally, or failed to follow its own regulations. Even if the Parole Commission found that Warren satisfied all requirements under the parole guidelines, it still had the discretion to deny parole. Ellis, 84 F.3d at 1413, 1415.

         Warren does not claim that his incarceration is unconstitutional, that he was denied any constitutionally protected procedures, or that the USPC acted unconstitutionally. To the extent Warren claims he has a general constitutional right to be released on parole, his claim fails.

         III. ...

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