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Morris v. Flournoy

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

August 11, 2017

DARVIN MORRIS, Petitioner,
v.
VICK FLOURNOY, Warden; FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS; and UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL, [1] Respondents.

          ORDER and MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA

         Petitioner Darvin Morris (“Morris”), who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup, Georgia (“FCI Jesup”), filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (Doc. 1.) Respondent filed a Response, (doc. 13), and Morris filed a Traverse, (doc. 14). For the reasons which follow, I RECOMMEND the Court DISMISS Morris' Petition, DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case, and DENY Morris in forma pauperis status on appeal.

         BACKGROUND

         Morris was convicted in this District, after entry of a guilty plea, of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). The Honorable William T. Moore, Jr., sentenced Morris to 120 months' imprisonment on July 29, 2013, and recommended Morris receive credit against his sentence for his time served since January 8, 2013. (Doc. 13-1, pp. 12-13) Morris has a projected release date of July 25, 2022, via good conduct time credit. (Id. at p. 10.)

         In his Petition, Morris seeks three items, all of which challenge the Bureau of Prisons' (“BOP”) sentence calculation. First, Morris seeks an award of pretrial credit from October 10, 2012, through November 7, 2013. Second, Morris seeks an award of pretrial credits from the date that a federal detainer was lodged against him, i.e., Morris seeks compliance with Judge Moore's sentencing computation recommendation. Finally, Morris seeks a nunc pro tunc designation from the BOP so that his state sentence can be concurrently designated with his federal sentence. (Doc. 1, p. 4.)

         Respondent avers Morris failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing his Petition, and his Petition should be dismissed as a result. (Doc. 13.) The Court addresses Respondent's contention.

         DISCUSSION

          I. Whether Morris Exhausted his Administrative Remedies

         A. Legal Requirements for Exhaustion

          The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a Section 2241 petitioner's failure to exhaust administrative remedies is not a jurisdictional defect. Santiago-Lugo v. Warden, 785 F.3d 467, 474 (11th Cir. 2015); see also Fleming v. Warden of FCI Tallahassee, 631 F. App'x 840, 842 (11th Cir. 2015) (“[Section] 2241's exhaustion requirement was judicially imposed, not congressionally mandated, and . . . nothing in the statute itself support[s] the conclusion that the requirement [is] jurisdictional.”). Nevertheless, the Eleventh Circuit has noted “that the exhaustion requirement is still a requirement and that courts cannot ‘disregard a failure to exhaust . . . if the respondent properly asserts the defense.'” Id. (citing Santiago-Lugo, 785 F.3d at 475). Failure to exhaust administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, and inmates are not required to specially plead or demonstrate exhaustion in their complaint. Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007). Additionally, the United States Supreme Court has “held that the PLRA's [Prison Litigation Reform Act's] text suggests no limits on an inmate's obligation to exhaust- irrespective of any ‘special circumstances.' And that mandatory language means a court may not excuse a failure to exhaust, even to take such circumstances into account.” Ross v. Blake, __ U.S.__, 136 S.Ct. 1850, 1856 (June 6, 2016).

         The requirement that the exhaustion of remedies occur “first in an agency setting allows ‘the agency [to] develop the necessary factual background upon which decisions should be based' and giv[es] ‘the agency a chance to discover and correct its own errors.'” Green v. Sec'y for Dep't of Corr., 212 F. App'x 869, 871 (11th Cir. 2006) (quoting Alexander v. Hawk, 159 F.3d 1321, 1327 (11th Cir. 1998) (first alteration in original)). Furthermore, requiring exhaustion in the prison setting “eliminate[s] unwarranted federal-court interference with the administration of prisons” and allows “corrections officials time and opportunity to address complaints internally before allowing the initiation of a federal case.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93 (2006).[2]

         The Supreme Court has noted exhaustion must be “proper.” Id. at 92. “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. In other words, an institution's requirements define what is considered exhaustion. Jones, 549 U.S. at 218. 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.

         Thus, under the law, prisoners must do more than simply initiate grievances; they must also appeal any denial of relief through all levels of review that comprise the agency's administrative grievance process. Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1378 (11th Cir. 2008) (“To exhaust administrative remedies in accordance with the PLRA, prisoners must ‘properly take each step within the administrative process.'”) (quoting Johnson v. Meadows, 418 F.3d 1152, 1157 (11th Cir. 2005)); Sewell v. Ramsey, No. CV406-159, 2007 WL 201269 (S.D. Ga. Jan. 27, 2007) (finding that a plaintiff who is still awaiting a response from the warden regarding his grievance is still in the process of exhausting his administrative remedies).

         B. Standard of ...


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