Pierce v. Holder


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Case: 08-50435 Document: 00511197840 Page: 1 Date Filed: 08/09/2010 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS United States Court of Appeals FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT Fifth Circuit FILED August 9, 2010 N o . 08-50435 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk J A C K I E LEROY PIERCE P e t it io n e r - Appellant v. E R I C H. HOLDER, JR., U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, R e s p o n d e n t - Appellee A p p e a l from the United States District Court fo r the Western District of Texas B e fo r e JOLLY and GARZA, Circuit Judges, and STARRETT, District Judge.* P E R CURIAM: J a c k ie Leroy Pierce, federal prisoner # 49294-080, appeals the denial of his p e t it io n pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241, seeking a nunc pro tunc designation of a s t a t e facility as the place in which he would serve his federal sentence. I P ie r c e was convicted in federal court of conspiracy to possess with intent t o distribute methamphetamine. While his state criminal proceeding for p o s s e s s io n of amphetamine was still pending, he was sentenced in federal court o n March 17, 2004, to 130 months of imprisonment. Two days later, he was District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, sitting by designation. * Case: 08-50435 Document: 00511197840 Page: 2 Date Filed: 08/09/2010 No. 08-50435 c o n v ic t e d in state court of possession of amphetamine and sentenced to ten years o f imprisonment. The state court sentence was to run concurrently to his federal s e n te n c e , if so allowed by the federal authorities, but the judgment and c o n v ic t io n in the federal criminal proceeding is silent as to whether the federal s e n te n c e should be served concurrently or consecutively with any state sentence. P ie r c e , now a federal prisoner, filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241 in December 2007 when he was a Texas state prisoner. Pierce sought an order s t a t in g that his federal sentence was to be served concurrently with the state s e n te n c e he was then serving. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) sent a letter to the s e n te n c in g court on February 1, 2008, explaining that Pierce had requested c r e d it towards his federal sentence for his time spent in state custody and s e e k in g the district court's position as to whether a nunc pro tunc designation m ig h t be appropriate in Pierce's case. I n response to the BOP's letter, the sentencing court, on March 7, 2008, s u a sponte amended the judgment and sentence in Pierce's criminal proceeding t o indicate that his federal sentence was to run consecutively to his state s e n te n c e . The district court referred to the amended judgment and denied P ie r c e 's 2241 petition as lacking merit. Pierce filed a motion for a certificate o f appealability (COA) that served as a timely notice of appeal. II O n ly the Attorney General, through the BOP, may compute a prisoner's c r e d it s . United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329, 33435 (1992). Where a federal s e n te n c e was imposed before a state sentence, the BOP may indirectly award c r e d i t for time served in state prison by designating nunc pro tunc the state p r is o n as the place in which the prisoner serves a portion of his federal sentence. See Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 480 (3d Cir. 1990); Rodriguez v. Pitzer, 76 F . App'x 519, 520 (5th Cir. 2003) (unpublished) (citing Barden). When Pierce filed this habeas petition, the BOP had not yet made a 2 Case: 08-50435 Document: 00511197840 Page: 3 Date Filed: 08/09/2010 No. 08-50435 d e t e r m in a t io n of whether to make a nunc pro tunc designation that would give P ie r c e credit for his time served in state prison. The BOP retained discretion to d o so because Pierce's original federal sentence did not preclude that sentence fr o m running concurrently to a later-imposed state sentence. By modifying the j u d g m e n t in the criminal case in response to the BOP's inquiry, and denying P ie r c e 's 2241petition on the merits, the district court prevented the BOP from m a k in g a determination that was left to the BOP's discretion.1 See Wilson, 503 U .S . at 333 (holding that the BOP and not the district court calculates credits). Other circuits have held that before the Attorney General has made a d e t e r m in a t io n of a prisoner's credits, there is no case or controversy ripe for r e v ie w when the prisoner challenges his credits. See, e.g., United States v. W e s tm o r e la n d , 974 F.2d 736, 737 (6th Cir. 1992); Reed v. United States, 262 F. A p p 'x 114, 116 (10th Cir. 2008) (unpublished); United States v. Jeter, 161 F.3d 4 , 1998 WL 482781, *2 (4th Cir. 1998) (unpublished table decision); see also M c C a r ty v. Dewalt, No. 5:08-CV-433-JMH, 2009 WL 235675, at *3 (E.D. Ky. Jan. 2 9 , 2009) ("McCarty's [ 2241] request is not ripe for review by this Court until t h e Attorney General, through the BOP, has made a final decision with respect t o his request [for a nunc pro tunc designation].") (citations omitted). We agree w it h those courts, and hold that a habeas petition requesting a nunc pro tunc d e s ig n a t io n is not ripe until the BOP makes a final decision on the prisoner's For this reason, the district court did not have jurisdiction to modify Pierce's sentence in order to preclude his request for time credit; nor does it appear that there was any other jurisdictional basis on which district court could modify the sentence. See 18 U.S.C 3582; United States v. Bridges, 116 F.3d 1110, 1112 (5th Cir. 1997). However, we cannot disturb that separate order here, on Pierce's appeal of the denial of his 2241 petition, because such petitions may challenge only the BOP's administration of a sentence and not the sentence itself. Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d 4 4 8 , 452 (5th Cir. 2000). Our dismissal of Pierce's appeal should not be read to prevent Pierce from bringing a challenge to his amended sentence under 2255; because of the timing of the district court's sua sponte modification to the sentence, he has not yet had the opportunity to challenge it. 3 1 Case: 08-50435 Document: 00511197840 Page: 4 Date Filed: 08/09/2010 No. 08-50435 n u n c pro tunc request. The district court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the m e r it s of Pierce's unripe habeas petition. III A c c o r d in g ly , the district court's denial of Pierce's petition is VACATED a n d REMANDED to the district court with instructions to dismiss the petition fo r lack of jurisdiction. V A C A T E D and REMANDED. 4

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