Walter v. Secretary, Department of Corrections (Polk)
ORDER denying Walter's 1 4 petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A certificate of appealability and leave to appeal in forma pauperis are DENIED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment against Walter and CLOSE this case. Signed by Judge Thomas P. Barber on 11/14/2023. (JT)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CASE NO. 8:23-cv-2456-TPB-AEP
SECRETARY, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT
ORDER DENYING WALTER’S PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS
Walter petitions for a writ of habeas corpus and challenges his custody
in a Florida prison. (Docs. 1 and 4) 1 He states that a state court sentenced
him to thirty years in prison, that he received credit for time that he spent in
jail, that he has served eighty-five percent of his sentence, and that his
imprisonment violates the federal constitution. (Docs. 1 at 1) He calculates
that he has served 8,941 days in prison. (Docs. 1 at 1) The Court
Walter filed a second identical petition, and the Clerk docketed the second
identical petition in Walter v. Warden, Lake Corr. Inst., No. 8:23-cv-2469-MSS-UAM
(M.D. Fla.). Judge Mary Scriven directed the Clerk to docket the identical petition
in this action. Walter, No. 8:23-cv-2469-MSS-UAM, ECF No. 2. This Court rules on
both petitions. (Docs. 1 and 4)
preliminarily reviews the petition for facial sufficiency. Rule 4, Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases.
A claim that prison officials violated federal due process by denying
gain time is cognizable on federal habeas. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475,
500 (1973); Medberry v. Crosby, 351 F.3d 1049, 1054 (11th Cir. 2003).
However, Walter does not challenge the Florida Department of Corrections’
cancellation of gain time. He instead challenges the prison’s calculation of
his release date.
Judicially noticed records from prison show that Walter is serving three
thirty-year sentences for two convictions of attempted first-degree murder
and a third conviction of armed robbery. On April 28, 2000, the state court
sentenced Walter, and the prison estimates his release on September 15,
2026. Inmate Population Information Detail, Florida Department of
Corrections, available at https://fdc.myflorida.com/offenderSearch/
Walter contends that the prison’s calculation violates Article I, Section
9, Clause 2 and Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States
Constitution and Section 944.275(2)(a), (4)(f), Florida Statutes. (Doc. 1 at 1)
Article I, Section 9, Clause 2, prohibits the suspension of the writ of habeas
corpus “unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may
require it.” Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2, guarantees the extradition of a
fugitive from one state to another state. Because neither provision of the
United States Constitution governs the calculation of a prisoner’s release
date and a claim based on a violation of state law is not cognizable on federal
habeas, Walter’s claim fails. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67–68 (1991)
(“[I]t is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court
determinations on state-law questions.”); Branan v. Booth, 861 F.2d 1507,
1508 (11th Cir. 1988) (“[F]ederal courts cannot review a state’s alleged failure
to adhere to its own sentencing procedures. This limitation on federal habeas
review is of equal force when a petition, which actually involves state law
issues, is ‘couched in terms of equal protection and due process.’”) (citations
Accordingly, Walter’s petition (Docs. 1 and 4) for a writ of habeas
corpus is DENIED. A certificate of appealability and leave to appeal
in forma pauperis are DENIED. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). Slack v. McDaniel,
529 U.S. 473, 478 (2000). The Clerk is DIRECTED to ENTER a judgment
against Walter and CLOSE this case.
DONE and ORDERED in Chambers, in Tampa, Florida, this 14th day
of November, 2023.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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