Woodson v. Salinas
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: 1. Petitioner Christopher Woodson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1 ] is DENIED. 2. Judgment shall be entered contemporaneously with this Memorandum Opinion and Order. 3. This action is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Courts docket. Signed by Judge Gregory F. VanTatenhove on 6/22/17.(SYD)cc: Mailed to pro se filer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CHRISTOPHER M. WOODSON,
R. SALINAS, Warden,
Civil No. 6:16-cv-0019-GFVT
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Inmate Christopher Woodson is confined at the United States Penitentiary-Big Sandy in
Inez, Kentucky. Proceeding without an attorney, Woodson has filed a petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. [R. 1.]
In Nashville, Tennessee during December 2009, Woodson and a cohort robbed several
fast food restaurants at gunpoint before they were captured by police on January 16, 2010. At
the time, Woodson was subject to a suspended 10-year sentence from a 2006 conviction for drug
trafficking imposed by the Criminal Court for Davidson County, Tennessee, in Case No. 2006B-1618. The state indicted the two men for the robberies, but those charges were eventually
dropped. On April 14, 2010, Tennessee did, however, revoke Woodson’s probation on the
suspended sentence for violating the terms of his supervision, and ordered him to serve the
original 10-year sentence, with credit given for prior periods in state custody. [R. 1-1 at 12.]
While he was serving that sentence, in March 2012 a federal grand jury indicted
Woodson and his accomplice for essentially the same conduct, as these robberies also violated
the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951. [R. 1-1 at 12.] As part of a plea agreement, Woodson pled
guilty to three counts of armed robbery in exchange for the dismissal of other charges, and in
September 2013 the federal court sentenced Woodson to 72 months imprisonment to be followed
by three years of supervised release. Consistent with the parties’ recommendations in the plea
agreement, the trial court ordered his federal sentence to run concurrently with the pre-existing
10-year state sentence. The trial court, recognizing that it lacked the authority to order the
Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to give Woodson pretrial jail credit against his federal sentence,
nonetheless recommended that it do so starting on June 11, 2012, the day he was borrowed from
state custody on a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. United States v. Woodson, No. 3: 12CR-51-1 (M.D. Tenn. 2012).
In March 2014, approximately four years after his 10-year state sentence was imposed,
Tennessee granted Woodson parole. He was then transferred from state custody to federal prison
to serve the remainder of his federal sentence. Believing that the BOP was not crediting him
with the full measure of the prior custody credits to which he was entitled, he filed inmate
grievances seeking relief. Specifically, he argued that he was entitled to a “nunc pro tunc
designation,” as well as prior custody credits beginning on January 16, 2010, (the day he was
arrested by state authorities) to June 11, 2012, (the day he was taken into federal custody
pursuant to a writ) pursuant to Willis v. United States, 438 F. 2d 923, 925 (5th Cir. 1971). [R. 11 at 7-8, 10-11.]
The BOP transmitted Woodson’s grievance to its Designation and Sentence Computation
Center in Grand Prairie, Texas, to determine if he was eligible for additional credits, either under
Willis, or under Kayfez v. Gasele, 993 F.2d 1288, 1290 (7th Cir. 1993). However, because the
“Effective Full Term” of Woodson’s state sentence – the date it would have expired if he had
served all 10 years of it – was after, not before, the full term expiration date of his 6-year federal
sentence, the BOP concluded that Woodson was not entitled to credits under Willis or Kayfez,
nor to a “retroactive designation” pursuant to BOP Program Statement 5160.05 (Jan. 16, 2003).
[R. 1-1 at 8, 12-13.]
Having failed to convince the BOP to advance his release date, Woodson sought relief
from the trial court in December 2015. Consistent with the government’s response, in January
2016 the trial court held that he must seek relief by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in
the district of his confinement. Woodson filed his petition in this case shortly thereafter, again
seeking credit against his federal sentence. Notably, Woodson’s petition does not request credit
from January 16, 2010, to June 11, 2012, (as he did in his grievances to the BOP), but from June
11, 2012, forward. [R. 1 at 6-8]
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 Woodson’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 the
petitioner’s factual allegations as true and construes all legal claims in his favor. Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007).
Calculation of a federal prisoner’s sentence, including both its commencement date and
any credits for custody before the sentence is imposed, is governed by federal statute:
(a) 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
(b) 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
(1) as a result of the offense for which the sentence was imposed; or
(2) 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 Section 3585 through Program Statement 5880.28 (Feb.
19, 1997). In this case, Woodson’s federal sentence was ordered to run concurrently with the
state sentence he was already serving. As a result, under Section 3585(a) his federal sentence
commenced on the day it was imposed, and the BOP was correct to so conclude. [R. 1-1 at 9,
Of course, the amount of time Woodson would serve under that 72-month sentence might
be reduced if he is entitled to additional credit for time he spent in custody before his federal
sentence was imposed. But Section 3585(b), which governs such prior custody credits, is clear
that they are available only if that time “has not been credited against another sentence,” here, his
April 2010 state probation revocation sentence. Such “double counting” is not permitted.
United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329, 337 (1992); Broadwater v. Sanders, 59 F. App’x 112,
113-14 (6th Cir. 2003).
There are, however, a few judicially-crafted exceptions to the prohibition on double
counting. But before discussing them, it should be noted that Woodson’s request for a “nunc pro
tunc” or “retroactive” designation is either mislabeled or clearly without merit. In his grievances
and in his petition he uses those terms [R. 1 at 2-4; R. 1-1 at 7, 10, 14], but that phrase relates
only to requests for relief sought pursuant to Barden v. Keohane, 921 F. 2d 476 (3d Cir. 1990).
Under Barden, the BOP may exercise its discretionary placement authority under 18 U.S.C. §
3621(b) to effectively reduce the length of a federal sentence. The remedy fashioned in Barden
can only apply where a state court orders that its sentence shall run concurrently with a
previously-imposed federal sentence on the mistaken assumption that the federal sentence
commenced upon imposition where that result is precluded by 18 U.S.C. § 3585(a). Cf. Dunlap
v. Ives, No. 11-271-GFVT, 2012 WL 1711379, at *2-3 (E.D. Ky. May 15, 2012). Because
Woodson’s state probation revocation sentence was imposed before, not after, his federal
sentence, the remedy afforded by Barden has no relevance or application here. The Court will
therefore limit its discussion to the BOP’s determination that Woodson was not entitled to
additional credits under Willis or Kayfez.
In addition, if the Court takes at face value the Woodson’s statement that he now seeks
prior custody credits from June 11, 2012 forward [R. 1 at 6-8], that claim is both unexhausted
and substantively without merit. Federal law requires a prisoner wishing to file a habeas corpus
petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to exhaust his or her administrative remedies before doing so.
Fazzini v. Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, 473 F.3d 229, 230-31 (6th Cir. 2006). Requiring
exhaustion of remedies available within the agency whose actions are being challenged preserves
the agency’s administrative authority by providing the agency with “an opportunity to correct its
own mistakes with respect to the programs it administers before it is haled into federal court.”
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 89 (2006). A prospective litigant must present their claim for
relief in such a manner to “give the agency a fair and full opportunity to adjudicate their claims
...” Id. at 90.
Although Woodson filed inmate grievances regarding prior custody credit, he sought
credit for an entirely different period of time than he seeks here, and these time periods are
governed by distinct legal standards. The claim set forth in his petition is therefore unexhausted
because he has not yet presented it to the BOP for consideration. See Pruitt v. Holland, No. 105
CV-111-HRW, 2011 WL 13653, at *4-6 (E.D.Ky. Jan. 4, 2011) (collecting cases). It is also
without merit because a state prisoner borrowed by federal marshals pursuant to a writ effects
only a temporary change in physical custody, not legal custody, and that time is credited against
the state sentence. Cf. Easley v. Steep, 5 F. App’x 541, 543 (7th Cir. 2001) (“When Easley was
moved to the federal facility, he was still serving his state sentence and receiving state credit for
that time. Thus, time spent in federal custody under a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum is
not creditable toward the federal sentence.”).
The claim Woodson did exhaust is his request for prior custody credits from January 16,
2010, to June 11, 2012. [R. 1-1 at 6-15.] The Court will liberally construe his petition to assert
that claim here. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). But the BOP was right to reject it,
and a brief history or Willis and Kayfez makes clear why.
In Willis, the Fifth Circuit held that a state prisoner who could demonstrate that he was
denied release on bail because of a federal detainer was entitled to credit against his federal
sentence because that time was “spent in custody in connection with the (federal) offense.”
Willis, 438 F.2d at 925 (citing Davis v. Attorney General, 425 F.2d 238 (5th Cir. 1970)). The
Eighth Circuit reached the same result a decade later in United States v. Haney, 711 F. 2d 113,
114-15 (8th Cir. 1983). This aspect of Willis and Haney is no longer good law, as both cases
were decided when prior custody credits were governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3568, which permitted
“double counting” for non-federal time spent in custody “in connection with” the federal offense.
Section 3568 was repealed on November 1, 1987, and was replaced by Section 3585(b), which
by its terms categorically excludes such “double counting.” Willis and Haney have therefore
been superseded by statute. See Elwell v. Fisher, 716 F. 3d 477, 485 (8th Cir. 2013).
But in Willis, the Fifth Circuit also noted in passing that when a concurrent state sentence
will end sooner than its federal counterpart, the fact that a state has already credited prior custody
time against its sentence essentially does the prisoner no good vis-a-vis his federal sentence.
Willis, 438 F.2d at 925. While this outcome does not appear to have been Congress’ intent, it is
what the clear language of the statute plainly requires. Notwithstanding the express terms of
Section 3585(b), the BOP has crafted an exception to the prohibition on “double counting” in
Program Statement (“PS”) 5880.28 (Sept. 20, 1999), which states that:
If the federal and non-federal terms are concurrent and the Raw EFT [Effective
Full Term] of the non-federal term is equal to or less than Raw EFT of the federal
sentence [then] [p]rior custody credits shall be given for any time spent in nonfederal presentence custody that begins on or after the date of the federal offense
up to the date that the first sentence begins to run, federal or non-federal. These
time credits are known as Willis time credits (See Willis v. U.S., 449 F2d 923
(CA 5, 1971).
PS 5880.28 Ch. I § 3(c)(1)(b)(2)(C). 1 In other words, the BOP interprets Willis to allow the
federal prisoner to get credit for time spent in jail before either sentence was imposed, even if the
state has already credited it against his state sentence, if the full unadjusted length of the
concurrent state term would end before the full unadjusted length of the federal sentence. The
presentence custody must also occur after the federal offense was committed. Id. See Cruz v.
Wilson, No. 6:09-CV-281-GFVT (E.D. Ky. April 1, 2011), aff’d, No. 11-5471 (6th Cir. April 26,
Kayfez, decided twenty years later and after the enactment of Section 3585(b), expands
the protection afforded by Willis by granting federal presentence credits where, although the full
term of the state sentence would complete after the full term of the concurrent federal sentence,
credits for state presentence custody cause the state term to complete before the federal sentence.
Kayfez, 993 F.2d at 1290. Thus,
The citation to Willis is incorrect, the decision is found in volume 438 of the Federal Reporter.
Because it is not dispositive, the Court also assumes that the BOP’s decision to graft exceptions
into Section 3585(b) is permissible.
If the non-federal and federal sentences are concurrent, the Raw EFT of the nonfederal term is greater than the Raw EFT of the federal term, and if the nonfederal
Raw EFT, after application of qualified non-federal presentence time, is reduced
to a date that is earlier than the federal Raw EFT, then a Kayfez (See Kayfez v.
Gasele, 993 F.2d 1288 (7th Cir. 1993) situation exists. In such a situation, the
amount of qualified non-federal presentence time, i.e., the amount of time in nonfederal presentence time [should be “custody”] after the date of the federal
offense to the date that the non-federal or federal sentence commenced, whichever
is earlier, shall be applied to the non-federal Raw EFT. The federal Raw EFT
shall then be reduced to equal the reduced non-federal EFT. Any other existing
prior custody time credits shall be deducted from the federal EFT after application
of the Kayfez time credits.
PS 5880.28 Ch. I § 3(c)(1)(b)(2)(D); see also PS 5880.28 Ch. I § 3(c) at pg. 1-14A (defining
“qualified non-federal presentence time.”).
The BOP, applying these two Program Statements, correctly concluded that neither
applied to Woodson. Woodson’s request for credits starting on January 16, 2010, to June 11,
2012, [R. 1-1 at 7-8, 10-11] should be considered in two parts: first from January 16, 2010, (the
day he was arrested by state authorities) to April 14, 2010, (the day his state sentence was
imposed), and second from April 15, 2010, (the day after his state sentence was imposed) to June
11, 2012, (the day he was taken into federal custody pursuant to a writ).
As to the second time period starting on April 15, 2010, Willis and Kayfez plainly do not
apply because those decisions only afford relief for time spent in custody before, not after, the
state sentence is imposed. PS 5880.28 Ch. I § 3(c) at pg. 1-14A. This time period is governed
by Section 3585(b)’s ordinary prohibition against “double counting.” Wilson, 503 U.S. at 337.
The first time period, starting from Woodson’s arrest by Nashville police until his state
sentence was imposed in April 2010 at least falls within the appropriate time range for “qualified
non-federal presentence time.” Woodson committed his federal offenses in December 2009 and
January 2010. Woodson’s 10-year state sentence was imposed on April 14, 2010, and hence its
raw full term expiration date would arrive in April 2020 for purposes of Willis. Because the state
court gave Woodson three months of credit for the time he spent in state custody after his
January 16, 2010, arrest [R. 1-1 at 12], that “qualified non-federal presentence time” resulted in
an adjusted full term expiration date in January 2020 for his state sentence for purposes of
However, both of those dates would arrive well after September 2019 - the raw full term
expiration date of Woodson’s 72 month federal sentence imposed in September 2013. As a
result, Woodson’s state sentence will always conclude after his federal sentence, even when state
prior custody credits are considered. Thus he will necessarily obtain the full benefit of the state’s
award of prior custody credits against his state sentence, and the harm towards which Willis and
Kayfez is directed will not transpire. The BOP therefore correctly concluded that Woodson was
not entitled to relief under either provision.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that:
Petitioner Christopher Woodson’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241 [R. 1] is DENIED.
Judgment shall be entered contemporaneously with this Memorandum Opinion and
This action is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Court’s docket.
This the 22nd day of June, 2017.
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