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Colvin v. LeBlanc

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

September 23, 2019

JAMES COLVIN
v.
JAMES LEBLANC, ET AL.

         SECTION: “I” (5)

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MICHAEL B. NORTH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Rule 12(b)(1)/12(b)(6) motion to dismiss of the Defendants herein, Secretary James LeBlanc of the Louisiana Department of Pubic Safety and Corrections (“DPSC”); Warden Robert Tanner of the B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center (“RCC”) in Angie, Louisiana; Brandi LeFeaux, a Corrections Specialist at DPSC Headquarters; and Carolyn Wade, a Records Clerk at RCC. (Rec. doc. 10). Also before the Court is Plaintiff's “[t]raverse” to Defendants' motion. (Rec. doc. 16).[1] For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Defendants' motion be granted and that Plaintiff's suit be dismissed.

         The underlying proceedings in this matter go back several decades.[2] On April 28, 1983, Colvin was found guilty of the crime of armed robbery after trial, by jury, in the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, State of Louisiana.[3] On June 2, 1983, Colvin was sentenced to 80 years at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. His conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal to the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal. State v. Colvin, 452 So.2d 1214 (La.App. 2nd Cir), writ denied, 457 So.2d 1199 (La. 1984).

         On August 23, 1986, not long after arriving at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (“LSP”) in Angola, Louisiana, to begin serving his state sentence, Colvin escaped from that institution. He was ultimately captured on September 11, 1986 and was returned to LSP on September 19, 1986, having committed a string of crimes while on the lam. Plaintiff explains that he was thus later transported to the Central District of California where, on December 1, 1986, he was sentenced to terms of life and 15 years after pleading guilty to the crimes of kidnapping and bank robbery that were committed while he was at large. Plaintiff indicates that he was then sent to USP Leavenworth, Pennsylvania, for service of his federal sentences without any detainer being filed by Louisiana authorities with respect to the remainder of his outstanding 80-year sentence.

         The following year, Colvin was transported to the Southern District of Texas where he was tried for another set of crimes that were committed while he was at large. On August 14, 1987, a jury found Colvin guilty of kidnapping, carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, interstate transportation of a stolen car, illegal possession of a gun by a convicted felon, and aiding and abetting, for which he was sentenced on October 30, 1987 to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, one of which was to be served consecutive to the life term that was previously imposed in the Central District of California, as well as other consecutive sentences totaling 17 years.[4] Around this time, Colvin alleges that Louisiana officials “gleefully” informed him that he would not be returning to LSP but would instead be spending the remainder of his days at the maximum security federal facility that had been recommended by the sentencing judge. Again, Colvin states that Louisiana filed no detainer to obtain custody of him if he was ever released from federal prison.

         Despite the substantial federal jail time that he received, Colvin states that on December 12, 2004, he was paroled to Minneapolis by the U.S. Parole Commission after exhibiting long-term good behavior and earning two college degrees while in prison. Colvin indicates that Louisiana officials were made aware of his release on federal parole and requested that he be jailed pending extradition but a Minnesota judge ruled that Louisiana had relinquished custody of him in 1987 and “abandoned” the right to “interrupt” his federal sentence which remained active while he was on federal parole. Colvin states that he was released from incarceration pending an appeal by Louisiana officials.

         On an unspecified date, Colvin relates that an unidentified parole officer advised him that if DPSC agents appeared in his office, either with or without an extradition warrant, that he would direct the agents to Colvin's residence regardless of the Minnesota judge's ruling. As a result of this, Colvin admits that he absconded from the district, thus violating the conditions of his parole. He ultimately came to be incarcerated at USP Lewisburg where he claims to have completed the “Challenge Program” and otherwise conducted himself admirably while housed at that institution.[5] Colvin states that the U.S. Parole Commission reinstated his federal parole upon the completion of the federal sentence he received in Michigan. Once again, Colvin maintains, Louisiana authorities filed no detainer against him.

         Thereafter, Colvin states that in June of 2015, federal parole authorities at USP Lewisburg sent to federal parole officials in Shreveport, Louisiana, his halfway house approval paperwork including his pre-sentence report (“PSR”). Upon learning of Colvin's outstanding Louisiana sentence in the PSR, the Shreveport parole officer reportedly notified DPSC of Colvin's impending release. On July 15, 2015, Colvin states that Louisiana officials filed a “letter” with Lewisburg authorities that “posed” as a detainer. (Rec. doc. 1-2, p. 2). Subsequently, on April 22, 2016, DPSC officials took custody of Colvin outside the front gates of USP Lewisburg without an extradition hearing or a waiver thereof, thereby allegedly committing the federal offense of kidnapping and “interrupting” the running of the federal sentence Colvin was serving under parole supervision.

         Colvin indicates that he arrived at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center (“EHCC”) in Louisiana one week later and commenced Administrative Remedy Procedures (“ARP”) with respect to the interplay between his state and federal sentences. He points to the DPSC's Master Prison Record as characterizing his time in federal custody from September 11, 1986 to April 29, 2016 as on “Offender Assigned Status, ” essentially seeking credit against his 80-year state sentence for the time that he spent in federal custody. At the first step of the ARP process, Colvin states that his Master Prison Record was amended in his favor to change his release date from January 1, 2052 to January 1, 2023. However, upon being assigned and transferred to RCC on April 3, 2017, Defendant Wade changed his release date back to 2052 which effectively “enhanced” his 80-year sentence to 110 years and gave him a full-term release date of March 26, 2092. At step two of the ARP process, Colvin was told that the running of his 80-year state sentence stopped when he escaped from LSP and that his state sentence is now to be served consecutive to his federal sentences. The refusal of state authorities to credit his state sentence with the 30 years that he spent in federal custody, Colvin alleges, amounts to an “artificial extension” of his state sentence from 80 to 110 years. For the alleged violation of his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, Colvin requested an unspecified amount of monetary damages, credit against his state sentence for the 30 years that he spent in federal custody, and an order reinstating him to federal parole supervision.

         Upon being served with Plaintiff's state-court petition, the Defendants properly removed the matter to this court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. (Rec. doc. 1). Since then, Plaintiff's motions to remand and for a default judgment have both been denied. (Rec. docs. 5, 8, 9, 12). Defendants now move for the dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint under 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B) and under Rule 12(b)(1) and (6). Defendants posit that they, in their official capacity, are not considered to be “persons” within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. §1983; that Colvin's claims are barred by Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S.Ct. 2364 (1994) and its progeny; and that Colvin has not pled sufficient facts to show that the Defendants violated any federal or state laws and that they are otherwise entitled to qualified immunity. (Rec. doc. 10). Plaintiff opposes the Defendants' motion on all fronts. (Rec. doc. 16).

         Defendants first argue that Plaintiff's complaint should be subject to the screening provisions codified in 28 U.S.C. §1915(e)(2)(B). That statute, which applies to proceedings brought in forma pauperis, provides in pertinent part as follows:

(e)(2) Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any ...

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