Dixon v. Quintana
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: (1) DENYING petitioner Dixon's 1 petition for a writ of habeas corpus; (2) DENYING Dixon's 5 Motion for expedited disposition; (3) action is DISMISSED & STRICKEN from the docket; (4) judgment shall be entered contemporaneously w/this order. Signed by Judge Karen K. Caldwell on 6/6/17.(KJR)cc: COR, Dixon (US Mail)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
DARREN DENARD DIXON,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:17-204-KKC
*** *** ***
Inmate Darren Denard Dixon is confined at the Federal Medical Center (“FMC”)Lexington in Lexington, Kentucky. Proceeding without counsel, Dixon has filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging the manner in which the Bureau
of Prisons (“BOP”) has calculated his federal sentence. [R. 1] Dixon is currently serving
concurrent sentences imposed in separate cases by the District Court for the District of South
Carolina, Florence Division in United States v. Darren Denard Dixon, No. 4:11-CR-264-RBH
(D.S.C. 2011) and United States v. Darren Denard Dixon, No. 4:07-CR-360-TLW-3 (D.S.C.
2007). Although the materials submitted by Dixon reflect that the BOP’s sentence computation
for Dixon results in a release date of July 12, 2017 [R. 1-2], Dixon argues that it was the intent of
the sentencing court in his 2011 case that Dixon’s release date be June 7, 2017. Dixon has also
filed a motion for expedited disposition of his petition. [R. 5]1
According to the documents attached to Dixon’s petition, he has exhausted his administrative remedies within the
Bureau of Prisons by following the BOP’s Administrative Remedy Program as described in Program Statement
1330.16. [R. 1-2]
The Court conducts an initial review of habeas corpus petitions. 28 U.S.C. § 2243;
Alexander v. Northern Bureau of Prisons, 419 F. App’x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011). A petition will
be denied “if it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not
entitled to relief.” Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts
(applicable to § 2241 petitions pursuant to Rule 1(b)). The Court evaluates Dixon’s petition under
a more lenient standard because he is not represented by an attorney. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S.
89, 94 (2007). At this stage of the proceedings, the Court accepts Dixon’s factual allegations as
true and construes all legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 55556 (2007). However, having reviewed the § 2241 petition, the Court must deny it because Dixon
has not set forth grounds entitling him to the relief he seeks.
On September 29, 2008, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States, Dixon pled
guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute narcotics in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 in the
United States District Court for the District of South Carolina Florence Division. United States v.
Darren Denard Dixon, No. 4:07-CR-360-TLW-3 (D.S.C. 2007) [Plea Agreement, Entry No. 231;
Minute Entry, Entry No. 232; Guilty Plea, Entry No. 233] (Dixon’s “2007 drug case”). On March
31, 2009, Dixon was sentenced to a term of one hundred months of imprisonment, to be followed
by five years of supervised release. [Id. at Minute Entry, Entry No. 271; Judgment, Entry No. 273]
On May 8, 2010, Dixon escaped from custody while serving his sentence at Federal
Correctional Institution (“FCI”)-Williamsburg in Salters, South Carolina [Id. at Order, Entry No.
310] Accordingly, in February 2011, Dixon was indicted in the United States District Court for
the District of South Carolina, Florence Division, on one count of knowingly escaping from
custody from FCI-Williamsburg, in violation of 21 U.S.C § 751(a). United States v. Darren
Denard Dixon, No. 4:11-CR-264-RBH (D.S.C. 2011) [Indictment, Entry No. 2] (Dixon’s “2011
escape case”). In June 2011, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States, Dixon pled
guilty to knowingly escaping from custody [Id. at Plea Agreement, Entry No. 52; Minute Entry,
Entry No. 55], and on December 8, 2011, Dixon was sentenced to a term of seven months of
imprisonment on the escape charge, to be followed by three years of supervised release [Id. at
Judgment, Entry No. 119] The Judgment in Dixon’s escape case also specified that his sentence
for the escape charge was to run consecutive to Dixon’s sentence for his drug charges imposed in
4:07-CR-360-TLW-3. [Id. at Judgment, Entry No. 119]
On July 16, 2015, while on supervised release for both his 2007 drug conviction and his
2011 escape conviction, Dixon was arrested by the Coweta County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Department
for Fraud Using Financial Transaction Card, Fraud Identity and Obstruction of Officers. United
States v. Dixon, No. 4:07-CR-360-TLW-3 [Motion, Entry No. 346]; United States v. Dixon, No.
4:11-CR-264-RBH [Petition/Motion, Entry No. 138] According to the incident report, Dixon and
a co-defendant were allegedly using multiple fraudulent credit cards and fictitious identification
to purchase hundreds of dollars’ worth of gift cards and Home Depot and Academy Sports. [Id.]
On September 13, 2016, Chief Judge for the District Court of South Carolina Terry L. Wooten
held a final hearing regarding the revocation of Dixon’s supervised release in Dixon’s 2007 drug
case, revoked Dixon’s supervised release, and committed Dixon to the custody of the BOP for a
total term of nine months imprisonment with no supervised release to follow. United States v.
Dixon, No. 4:07-CR-360-TLW-3 [Minute Entry, Entry No. 365; Judgment for Revocation, Entry
On October 18, 2016, Judge R. Bryan Harwell, United States District Judge for the District
of South Carolina, held a final hearing regarding the revocation of Dixon’s supervised release in
Dixon’s 2011 escape case. United States v. Dixon, No. 4:11-CR-264-RBH [Minute Entry, Entry
No. 157] On October 20, 2016, Judge Harwell entered a Judgment revoking Dixon’s supervised
release in that case and committing Dixon to the custody of the BOP to be imprisoned for a total
term of nine months, with no supervised release to follow. [Id. at Judgment, Entry No. 159] The
Judgment further stated that the date of imposition of Judgment was October 18, 2016 and that the
sentence imposed pursuant to the Judgment shall run concurrent with the sentence imposed in Case
No. 4:07-CR-360-TLW-3 (Dixon’s 2007 drug case) [Id.]
In his § 2241 petition, Dixon challenges the BOP’s calculation of his current release date.
[R. 1] Although the BOP has set his release for July 12, 2017, Dixon argues that his release date
should be June 7, 2017. Dixon asserts that the BOP’s calculation of his sentence fails to account
for the fact that Judge Harwell ordered Dixon’s October 18, 2016 sentence to run concurrent with
the sentence imposed by Judge Wooten on September 21, 2016. In support of his claim, Dixon
attaches a portion of the transcript from the hearing conducted by Judge Harwell on October 18,
2016, and argues that this transcript shows that there was an agreement between defense counsel,
the prosecution, and the Court regarding Dixon’s request for a sentence that would permit him to
attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony in June 2017. [R. 1, R. 1-1, Transcript]
Although the primary relief sought by Dixon is release from prison on June 7, 2017, in the
alternative, he requests the imposition of bond/bail or other temporary arrangements that would
permit him to attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony on terms of personal
recognizance or U.S. Marshal Service custody, to be returned to FMC-Lexington at the conclusion
of the ceremony to serve the remainder of his sentence.
As a point of clarification, Dixon appears to be confused about the relationship between
his sentences in his two separate criminal cases. He seems to be under the impression that, after
his criminal conduct he committed while on supervised release in July 2015, he should have only
be sentenced one time, in one case, in front of one judge for one supervised release violation. In
his motion for expedited disposition, Dixon states that “[f]or reasons unknown to Petitioner, the
identical matters were assigned to different Judges of the Florence Division of the District of South
Carolina, rather than both reverting to the Judge who was required by law to hear the case of the
Violation of Terms of Supervised Release.” [R. 5, Motion at p. 2] However, Dixon overlooks that
he was on supervised release in two separate criminal cases – his 2007 drug case and his 2011
escape case. Thus, his criminal conduct in July 2015 resulted in two separate supervised release
violations, one in his 2007 drug case and one in his 2011 escape case. Accordingly, the imposition
of two separate sentences for these two separate violations was appropriate.
Calculation of a federal prisoner’s sentence, including both its commencement date and
any credits for custody before the sentence is imposed, is determined by federal statute:
A sentence to a term of imprisonment commences on the date the defendant
is received in custody awaiting transportation to, or arrives voluntarily to
commence service of sentence at, the official detention facility at which the
sentence is to be served.
A defendant shall be given credit toward the service of a term of
imprisonment for any time he has spent in official detention prior to the date the
sentence commences –
as a result of the offense for which the sentence was imposed; or
as a result of any other charge for which the defendant was arrested
after the commission of the offense for which the sentence was imposed;
that has not been credited against another sentence.
18 U.S.C. § 3585. The BOP implements § 3585 through Program Statement 5880.28.
Section 3858(a) establishes when a federal sentence commences. If a sentence is ordered
to run concurrently with pre-existing sentence, that sentence begins to run when it is imposed.
Doan v. Lamanna, 27 F. App’x 297, 299 (6th Cir. 2001). Thus, Dixon’s sentence for the
supervised release violation in his escape case (No. 4:11-CR-264-RBH) began to run on October
18, 2016, the date it was imposed.
Section 3585(b) establishes whether a defendant can obtain credit for time spent in custody
before the sentence commences. Here, Dixon essentially claims entitlement to credit for the time
he spent in custody between September 13, 2016 (the date Judge Wooten imposed Dixon’s
sentence for his supervised release violation in his 2007 drug case) and October 18, 2016, the date
Dixon’s sentence was imposed in his supervised release violation in his 2011 escape case. Dixon
argues that he is entitled to this credit because Judge Harwell ordered that Dixon’s October 18,
2016 sentence should run concurrently with his September 13, 2016 sentence.
There are only two ways a federal prisoner can receive credit for time spent in detention
before a federal sentence is imposed:
Backdating a federal sentence [to commence prior to its imposition] conflicts with
18 U.S.C. § 3585(a), which states that a federal prison term may commence only
when the defendant is received into custody. Furthermore, the term “credit” can
refer to different concepts. The award of “credit” against a sentence, as described
under 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b), is within the exclusive authority of the BOP. In contrast,
a court has authority, pursuant to Guidelines § 5G 1.3(c), to fashion a sentence that
accounts for time already served, and “credit for time served on a pre-existing state
sentence is within the exclusive power of the sentencing court.” The Guidelines
caution sentencing courts that, “[t]o avoid confusion with the Bureau of Prisons’
exclusive authority provided under 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b) to grant credit ... any
downward departure under application note [3(E) in § 5G1.3] be clearly stated ...
as a downward departure pursuant to § 5G 1.3(c), rather than as a credit for time
United States v. Gaskins, 393 F. App’x 910, 914 (3d Cir. 2010) (citations and internal quotation
marks omitted). Here, Judge Harwell ordered Dixon’s supervised release violation sentence in his
2011 escape case to run concurrently with the sentence imposed by Judge Wooten in Dixon’s 2007
drug case, but “even where a sentencing court orders a federal sentence to run concurrently with a
pre-existing...sentence, the federal sentence is deemed to run concurrently only with the
undischarged portion of the prior...conviction.” Belcher v. Cauley, No. 0: 08-132-HRW, 2009
WL 464932, at *2-3 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 24, 2009) (noting that § 3585(a) bars a district court from
ordering a federal sentence to commence prior to its imposition); see also Pitman v. U.S. Bureau
of Prisons, No. 09-383-GFVT, 2011 WL 1226869 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 30, 2011) (same).
Judge Harwell’s order for concurrent sentences therefore did not and could not cause
Dixon’s sentence for his violation of supervised release in his 2011 escape case to commence
retroactive to the date that his sentence for his violation of supervised release in his 2007 drug case
was imposed. Cf. Morales v. Zenk, 414 F. App’x 383, 386-87 (3d Cir. 2011); Schleining v.
Thomas, 642 F. 3d 1242, 1244 (9th Cir. 2011); United States v. Flores, 616 F.2d 840, 841 (5th Cir.
1980) (“[A] federal sentence cannot commence prior to the date it is pronounced, even if made
concurrent with a sentence already being served.”).
Under Section 3585(a) a federal sentence cannot begin to run earlier than the date of its
imposition, and a sentencing court is without authority to Abackdate@ a federal sentence to an earlier
date. United States v. Wells, 473 F.3d 640, 645 (6th Cir. 2007) (A[t]he district judge had no
statutory authority to order that the defendant's federal sentence should >commence= [before the
date his sentence was imposed].@); United States v. Labeille-Soto, 163 F.3d 93, 98-99 (2d Cir.
1998). Where, as here, the sentencing court directs that the defendant=s federal sentence is to run
concurrently with the undischarged term of a previously-imposed sentence, the federal sentence
runs concurrently only with the portion of the prior sentence that remains to be served. Staley v.
Patton, No. 0:07-cv-122-HRW, 2009 WL 256745, at * 2-3 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 2, 2009). The BOP
therefore correctly concluded that Dixon’s sentence for his supervised release violation in his 2011
escape case commenced on October 18, 2016, the date that the sentence was imposed.
Although Dixon argues that the transcript of his sentencing hearing in front of Judge
Harwell indicates an “agreement” between the Court, the prosecution and defense counsel that
Dixon would be released in time to attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony, an
examination of the transcript does not actually show any such agreement. Although the issue of
his daughter’s graduation in June 2017 is raised by counsel and acknowledged by Judge Harwell,
and Judge Harwell does agree that Dixon’s sentence should be concurrent to the sentence imposed
by Judge Wooten, Judge Harwell never states that he intended for Dixon to be released by June
2017 [R. 1-1, Transcript at p. 5-9]
More persuasive is the fact that Dixon filed a motion for clarification of his sentence in
Case No. 4:11-CR-264-RBH on December 13, 2016, in which he similarly argued that the BOP
was miscalculating his expected release date. United States v. Dixon, No. 4:11-CR-264-RBH
[Motion, Entry No. 160] On January 5, 2017, Judge Harwell entered an order denying Dixon’s
motion, clearly stating that the Court’s intention was that Dixon be imprisoned for 9 months from
the date the sentence was imposed on October 18, 2016. [Id. at Entry No. 165] Specifically, Judge
Harwell explained as follows:
Defendant was sentenced to a 9 month term of imprisonment following the
revocation of his supervised release on October 18, 2016, to run concurrently with
a 9 month sentence imposed by Judge Wooten in another supervised release
revocation case on September 13, 2016. Defendant contends that his release date
should be the same for both supervised release revocation cases because this Court
ordered his 9 month sentence to run concurrent to the 9 month sentence imposed
by Judge Wooten. This Court, however, intended for Defendant to serve 9 months
from the date the sentence was imposed in this case - October 18, 2016. The
judgment was entered on October 20, 2016. The projected release date for
Defendant as indicated on the Bureau of Prisons website is July 12, 2017,
approximately 9 months from the date Defendants sentence was imposed in this
case. Because it appears the Bureau of Prisons projects a release date for Defendant
approximately 9 months from the date his sentence was imposed in this case, the
Court finds no basis for the equitable relief requested by the Defendant.
[Id.] Thus, Dixon’s argument that Judge Harwell intended that Dixon be released earlier than the
release date calculated by the BOP is without merit.
In the alternative, Dixon requests that this Court make temporary arrangements, through
bond, bail, or otherwise, to permit Dixon to attend his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony
and to be returned to FMC-Lexington to serve the remainder of his sentence after the ceremony.
[R. 1 at p. 8] However, the Court does not have the authority to grant Dixon’s request. Convicted
persons have “no constitutional or inherent right ... to be conditionally released before the
expiration of a valid sentence.” Greenholtz v. Inmates of Nebraska Penal & Corr. Complex, 442
U.S. 1, 7 (1979). Under 18 U.S.C. § 3622, the BOP has authority to grant to prisoners furloughs
for a limited period for certain designated purposes, including “establishing or reestablishing
family or community ties.” 18 U.S.C. § 3622(a)(5). Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 570.33(d), the warden
over the prisoner may authorize such a furlough. In addition, 28 C.F.R. § 570.37 provides that
inmates may submit an application for a furlough to staff, who will review it for compliance with
regulations and BOP policy. Thus, if Dixon wishes to seek a furlough, he should apply for a
furlough to prison staff. Regardless, this authority to grant Dixon’s requests lies with the warden
and the BOP, not the Court.
For all of these reasons, the Court finds that Dixon is not entitled to relief. Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that:
Petitioner Dixon’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241
[R. 1] is DENIED;
Petitioner’s Motion for Expedited Disposition [R. 5] is DENIED;
This action is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Court’s docket.
Judgment shall be entered contemporaneously with this Memorandum Opinion and
Dated June 6, 2017.
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