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United States v. Pruitt

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

July 28, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ROY ANTHONY PRUITT.

ORDER

LISA G. WOOD, Chief District Judge.

Defendant Roy Anthony Pruitt ("Pruitt"), who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution Victorville in Adelanto, California, pled guilty in this Court to the charged offense of bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). On January 27, 2009, the Honorable Anthony A. Alaimo sentenced Pruitt to 78 months' imprisonment, and judgment was imposed on January 28, 2009. (Doc. Nos. 50, 52). Pruitt filed an appeal, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Pruitt's conviction and sentence by order dated September 9, 2009, which was issued as a mandate on December 3, 2009. (Doc. No. 74). Pruitt filed a motion to vacate, correct, or set aside his conviction and/or sentence, and United States Magistrate Judge James E. Graham recommended that Pruitt's motion be dismissed as time barred. (Doc. No. 89). The undersigned adopted this recommendation as the opinion of the Court over Pruitt's objections. (Doc. No. 92). The undersigned denied Pruitt's motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his § 2255 motion. (Doc. No. 102).

Pruitt has filed a Motion for Clarification. (Doc. No. 99). In this Motion, Pruitt contends that the transcript from his sentencing hearing contains confusing statements on the part of Judge Alaimo. For example, Pruitt contends that Judge Alaimo agreed with the Assistant United States Attorney that Pruitt's federal sentence began on the date he was sentenced in this Court. Pruitt also contends that his attorney stated that he expected Pruitt's state sentence to expire while he was in federal custody. Pruitt further contends that Judge Alaimo stated his intention to request that the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") make his federal sentence run concurrently with his state sentence. Pruitt asserts that it was Judge Alaimo's intention that his federal sentence run concurrently with his state sentence.

The Government's response to this Motion states that Pruitt's claim fell under the purview of 28 U.S.C. § 2241, which requires a petitioner to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing a cause of action in federal court. The Government also stated that a decision that a federal sentence is to run concurrently with a state sentence is left to the BOP.

Pruitt also filed a Motion to Correct Clerical Error Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 36. Pruitt's assertions in this Motion are essentially the same as those he set forth in his Motion for Clarification. Pruitt contends that Judge Alaimo "clearly and concisely state[d]" during the sentencing proceedings that Pruitt's federal sentence was to begin on January 27, 2009, (doc. no. 112, p. 2), yet the Clerk of Court failed to include this instruction in the written judgment or that Pruitt's federal sentence was to run concurrently with his state sentence. Pruitt avers that Judge Alaimo's oral pronouncement of sentence controls, which necessitates the correction of the contrary written judgment.

The Government responded to Pruitt's Rule 36 Motion. The Government asserts that Rule 36 motions are designed to cover minor, uncontroversial errors, not to make a substantive alteration to a criminal sentence, which is what Pruitt asks this Court to do. The Government alleges that Judge Alaimo did not orally order that Pruitt's federal sentence should run concurrently with his state sentence. Rather, the Government asserts, Judge Alaimo only requested that the BOP grant Pruitt credit beginning on the date of his arrest on federal charges and did not order this to occur, as Judge Alaimo recognized that the BOP is the entity with the authority to do so. The Government avers that there is no clerical error to correct. Pruitt filed a Reply.

Pruitt filed a Notice and Request for Expedited Ruling on his Rule 36 Motion, which was docketed as his Second Motion to Correct Clerical Error. Plaintiff also filed a Request for Submission of his Rule 36 Motion to the undersigned. The Government responded to Pruitt's Request.

DISCUSSION AND CITATION TO AUTHORITY

I. Section 2241

A. Exhaustion

Federal courts must "look behind the label" of an inmate's pro se motion and determine whether there is any framework under which his claim might be cognizable. United States v. Jordan. 915 F.2d 622 , 624-25 (11th Cir.1990). If a federal prisoner wants to challenge the execution of his sentence, rather than its validity, he may do so through a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition. Antonelli v. Warden, United States Penitentiary Atlanta , 542 F.3d 1348, 1352 (11th Cir.2008). A review of Pruitt's Motion for Clarification reveals that he seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

"[P]risoners seeking habeas relief, including relief pursuant to [28 U.S.C.] § 2241, " must exhaust all available administrative remedies. Skinner v. Wiley , 355 F.3d 1293, 1295 (11th Cir. 2004). If a petitioner fails to exhaust his administrative remedies before seeking redress in the federal courts, the court should dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction. Winck v. England , 327 F.3d 1296, 1300 n.1 (11th Cir. 2003) (citing Gonzalez v. United States , 959 F.2d 211, 212 (11th Cir. 1992)). "Also jurisdictional is [t]he general rule... that a challenge to agency actions in the courts must occur after available administrative remedies have been pursued.'" Id . (quoting Boz v. United States , 248 F.3d 1299, 1300 (11th Cir. 2001)).

In Porter v. Nussle, the United States Supreme Court held that exhaustion of available administrative remedies is mandatory. 534 U.S. 516, 523 (2002). The Supreme Court has noted exhaustion must be "proper." Woodford v. Ngo , 548 U.S. 81, 92 (2006). "Proper exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative system can function effectively without imposing some orderly structure on the course of its proceedings." Id. at 90-91.[1] In other words, an institution's requirements define what is considered exhaustion. Jones v. Bock , 549 U.S. 199, 218 (2007). It is not the role of the court to consider the adequacy or futility of the administrative remedies afforded to the inmate. Higginbottom v. Carter , 223 F.3d 1259, 1261 (11th Cir. 2000). The court's focus should be on what remedies are available and whether the inmate pursued these remedies prior to filing suit. Id.

Inmates in BOP facilities must exhaust the BOP administrative remedies, as required by the Code of Federal Regulations, beginning the grievance process locally by presenting their complaint for informal resolution. 28 C.F.R. § 542.13. If informal resolution is unsuccessful, the inmate may seek formal review locally by filing a written administrative remedy request with the Warden at his institution. 28 C.F.R. § 542.14. If the inmate is not satisfied with the Warden's response, the inmate may appeal to the Regional Director. 28 C.F.R. § 542.15. If the ...


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