Harris v. United States of America (INMATE 3)
OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 5/12/16. (djy, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, EASTERN DIVISION
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
CIVIL ACTION NO.
Harris, a federal prisoner, filed this lawsuit seeking
Specifically, he seeks to vacate, set
aside, or correct the amended sentence this court imposed
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782 to
the United States Sentencing Guidelines, because this
court based his amended sentence on the clearly erroneous
factual finding that the release date projected by the
Bureau of Prisons did not already factor in good-time
credit he had accrued (and might still accrue).
Having conducted a hearing on this motion on May 10,
2016, and based on the representations made in open court
filings, the court--and the government--agree with Harris
information, (2) that habeas relief is warranted, and
(3) that his sentence should be reduced further.1
On January 15, 2016, this court reduced Harris’s
sentence on the first count of conviction to 46 months.2
In calculating this amended sentence, the court decided
to impose a sentence “comparably less” than the amended
guideline range, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(2)(B),
departure Harris received during his original sentencing.
In determining how to calculate a comparably lessened
sentence, the court discussed with counsel whether it
1. The government’s response to the petition states
that it “has no objection to the relief sought” therein.
See Resp. to Pet. (doc. no. 3) at 1.
2. Harris also received a consecutive sentence of
60 months on a separate count.
Amendment 782 had no
effect on the sentence for this second count.
proposed by the court’s Retroactivity Screening Panel or
the ‘percentage-wise’ computation method discussed in
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(c) cmt. n. 4(B).
The court noted that
the level-wise method would result in an amended sentence
of 46 months and that the percentage-wise method would
result in an amended sentence of 36 months.
The court was advised, and thus mistakenly believed,
that “the practical difference in the resulting reduction
[would] be minimal,” because Harris’s projected release
date did not reflect his accrual of good-time credit and
thus that even the more limited reduction would result
in very prompt release.
See Op. and Order, United States
v. Harris, 3:09-cr-112-MHT, 2016 WL 184427, at *1 n.*
(M.D. Ala. Jan. 15, 2016) (Thompson, J.).
opted to grant the more limited reduction to 46 months,
in order to “increase[e] the likelihood that [Harris] can
participate in pre-release programming.”
Id.; see also
United States v. Maiello, 805 F.3d 992 (11th Cir. 2015)
(holding that although Tapia v. United States, 564 U.S.
319 (2011), prohibits sentencing courts from “imposing
or lengthening” a criminal sentence in order to promote
sentence reduction proceedings pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
However, the court has since been made aware that
the release dates projected by the Federal Bureau of
Prisons already reflect all of the good-time credit a
prisoner could possibly accrue over the course of his
Harris’s new projected release date is,
thus, not imminent, but rather almost a year away.
the court known this, it would have granted Harris more
of a reduction, to an amended sentence of 44 months,
which would be sufficiently lengthy to ensure that he
will spend a meaningful period of time in a halfway house.
computation method was not, in itself, error.
States v. Marroquin-Medina, -- F.3d --, 2016 WL 1273021,
at *6-*7 (11th Cir. Apr. 1, 2016) (permitting district
Eleventh Circuit held in Shukwit v. United States, 973
F.2d 903, 904 (11th Cir. 1992), “due process protects the
cognizable in this petition.”
As the Third Circuit explained in greater detail in
United States v. Eakman, 378 F.3d 294, 301 (3d Cir. 2004),
habeas relief is available under the “otherwise subject
to collateral attack” prong of § 2255 when “(1) the
district court made an objectively ascertainable error
(one that does not require courts to probe the mind of
In fact, the error that Eakman found to be cognizable
on habeas review is quite similar to the error this court
In Eakman, the petitioner contended that the
district judge had based his sentencing decision on the
mistaken belief that the Federal Bureau of Prisons had
recommended, when in fact it had no such authority.
case was remanded in order to determine whether the
Here, the text of the opinion
undersigned both confirm reliance.
The amended sentence this court imposed on Harris
petition, vacate his sentence, and resentence him to
44 months on the first count of conviction.
An appropriate judgment will be entered.
DONE, this the 12th day of May, 2016.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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