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Parker v. Dowling

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

September 29, 2017

ALVIN PARKER, Petitioner,
v.
JANET DOWLING, Warden, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. DOWDELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a habeas corpus action. Petitioner is a state inmate and appears pro se. On April 21, 2017, Petitioner filed an amended petition (Doc. 5). In response to the amended petition, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. 8). Petitioner filed a response (Doc. 9) in opposition to the motion to dismiss. Petitioner also filed motions for an evidentiary hearing (Doc. 10), to be “enlarged” pendente lite (Doc. 12), and to “expedite cause” (Doc. 14). For the reasons discussed below, the petition for writ of habeas corpus, as amended, is denied. Because the amended petition is denied, Petitioner's pending motions shall be declared moot. Respondent's motion to dismiss shall be declared moot.

         BACKGROUND

         In his amended petition (Doc. 5), Petitioner challenges post-conviction and mandamus rulings entered by Oklahoma County District Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA). Petitioner is in custody serving a sentence entered in Oklahoma County District Court, Case No. CRF-1985-698. In that case, Petitioner was convicted of Second Degree Murder and sentenced to 199 years imprisonment. Petitioner states that, on May 24, 1994, in Case No. F-90-1212, the OCCA affirmed his conviction and sentence. See Id. at 2. Petitioner also alleges that, in 2016, he filed a “motion for order nunc pro tunc, ” claiming that his “sentence in CRF-85-698 exceeds the maximum sentence authorized and has been discharged.” Id. According to Petitioner, the OCCA denied relief on March 9, 2017, in Case No. MA-2016-1140.[1] See Id. at 3.

         On March 15, 2017, Petitioner filed his federal petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1). Thereafter, on April 21, 2017, Petitioner filed an amended petition (Doc. 5) raising two grounds of error, quoted in their entirety, as follows:

Ground One: Petitioner was denied his constitutional right of access to courts.
Petitioner's sentence in CRF-85-698 exceeds the maximum sentence authorized and has been discharged, but the State Courts carte blanche denied Petitioner the ability to file future pleadings in CRF-85-698. Petitioner's sentence was defined by the state legislature in 1997 as between 18 and 60 years. Petitioner has served over 60 calendar years with his earned credits deducted. Therefore, the state's refusal to comply with this, voids sentence. Petitioner's sentence for all practical purposes has been defined by the state courts as a life sentence. In Oklahoma, all life sentences were 45 years, and could be discharged in twenty-two and one-half years before 1997, whereas after 1997 its [sic] discharged in 38 years, minus credits. Since 1997 all Oklahoma courts have set 38 years as 85% of a life sentence for parole purposes, thereby setting 45 years as life to discharge them. Definitions cannot be repealed, and in the 1997 truth in sentencing matrix, 57 O.S. § 332.7(A), it specifically states that the definition of life, is not part of the truth in sentencing act, but is used in the classification, and scheduling of crimes under the act. Under the sentencing scheme Petitioner was sentenced under gave him a right to have his credits deducted from his life sentence, when a court or legislature defined life as a number of years. In 1997 the legislature did define 18 to 60 years as life. It's a non-discretionary legislative mandate, and the state trial court's non-discretionary duty was to specify the number of years for this cases's life sentence, based on the facts and circumstance of this case. With credit deductions, Petitioner has discharged his sentence. On May 27, 1994, Oklahoma Governor Walters signed House bill 1249, into law, creating a non-discretionary duty upon all state courts to retroactively place all prisoners sentenced before 1997, under the 1997 truth in sentencing matrix, and it took immediate emergency effect upon the Governors 1997 signature. The repeal of a statute shall not revive a statute previously repealed, and accrued, vested rights can in no way be denied after a statute is repealed. Pre-1997 parts of a sentence, even if repealed, must still be applied when it benefits a prisoner. Thus, the state court refusal to file and rule upon Petitioner's motion for order nunc pro tunc and brief in CRF-85-698, denied Petitioner his constitutional right of access to the courts. Petitioner's sentence in CRF-85-698 exceeds the maximum sentence authorized and has been discharged.
Ground Two: The State's denial of post-conviction relief violated Petitioner's rights under the equal protection clause.
Similarly situated inmates have been intentionally treated differently by the State, and there is no rational relation between the dissimilar treatment and any legitimate penal interest. The State granted post-conviction relief to a white prisoner on April 14, 2016, but Petitioner who is black, was denied relief on December 2, 2016. Like the white prisoner, Petitioner's post-conviction relief application alleged the identical claims, i.e., that Petitioner's sentence exceeds the maximum sentence authorized by law and has been discharged. (See Ground One above). In fact, Petitioner simply took the white prisoner's post-conviction relief application and removed his name from it and copied the text word-for-word and sent it to the court with Petitioner's name on it. There was no legitimate penal interest for denying Petitioner post-conviction relief. Although the white prisoner was convicted in 1972 while Petitioner was convicted in 1990, the claim for relief in both cases involved pre-1997 life sentences. Loyd Kennedy, a white prisoner, was granted post-conviction relief on this claim on April 14, 2016, in Sequoyah County Case No. CRF-72-187, while Petitioner, who is black, was denied post-conviction relief on the identical claim on December 2, 2016. The constitution prohibits the State from discrimination on the basis of a person's race.

Id. at 3-5 (footnote omitted). In response to the amended petition, Respondent filed a motion to dismiss (Doc. 8). Petitioner filed a response to the motion to dismiss (Doc. 9)

         ANALYSIS

         In the motion to dismiss (Doc. 8), Respondent does not address either Petitioner's access to courts claim or his equal protection claim. Instead, Respondent focuses on Petitioner's underlying claim that, under state law, he has discharged his sentence. Id. As to that claim, Respondent asserts that (1) Petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies prior to commencing this federal habeas corpus action, (2) the petition is time barred, and (3) Petitioner has not completed his sentence. See Id. In response to the motion to dismiss, Petitioner argues that the “petition does not challenge the manner in which his sentence is being administered by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections . . . Consequently, exhaustion of administrative remedies was not required.” See Doc. 9 at 4.

         Petitioner's claim that he has discharged his sentence[2] underlies his first ground of error alleging that he has been denied access to courts. Based on Petitioner argument presented in response to the motion to dismiss, the Court shall adjudicate Petitioner's claims identified in the headings used for the grounds of error, rather than the claim identified by Respondent in the motion to dismiss. For the reasons discussed below, Petitioner's request for habeas corpus relief on his claims of denial of access to courts and equal protection is denied. The motion to dismiss shall be declared moot.

         A. Constitutionality of post-conviction proceedings ...


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