United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
DR. JAMES L. CRAWFORD, TDCJ #797416 Petitioner,
LORIE DAVIS, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge
state inmate Dr. James L. Crawford filed a petition for a
writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
challenging the denial of his release onto parole. The
respondent, Lorie Davis, answered and moved for summary
judgment, to which Crawford responded. Crawford also moved
for a preliminary injunction and filed a motion for
reconsideration, a motion for issuance of a warrant, a motion
for a temporary restraining order, and a motion for
discovery. (Docket Entries No. 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23).
Based on careful consideration of the pleadings, the motions,
the record, and the applicable law, this court concludes that
Crawford has not stated meritorious grounds for federal
habeas relief, denies his § 2254 petition, and, by
separate order, enters final judgment. The reasons for these
rulings are explained below.
1997, Crawford was convicted in a Harris County, Texas court
in Cause Number 716452 for the offense of burglary of a
habitation with intent to commit theft. He was sentenced to a
50-year prison term. Crawford pleaded guilty to one charge of
burglary of a habitation and one charge of unlawful use of a
criminal instrument and was convicted in a Montgomery County,
Texas court. (Cause Numbers 10-10-10796-CR and
10-12-13648-CR). In March 2011, he was sentenced to
concurrent 25-year prison terms in these cases.
federal habeas petition, Crawford challenges the denial of
his release on parole, not his underlying convictions or
sentences. Crawford has previously filed numerous
applications for a state writ of habeas corpus under Article
11.07 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to challenge
his convictions as well as to assert his parole-related
claims. See generally, Ex parte Crawford,
Application Nos. WR-46, 267-01 through WR-46, 267-19. He
contends that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
improperly denied him "mandatory supervision"
parole, depriving him of his right to due process, and that
the state habeas trial court improperly denied his writ
application because he had previously filed a complaint
against the presiding judge, violating his right to equal
protection. Crawford's claims and arguments, with
the respondent's, are analyzed against the record and the
applicable legal standards.
The Legal Standards
judgment is proper when the record shows "no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). In ordinary civil cases, a district court considering
a motion for summary judgment must construe disputed facts in
a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986) ("The evidence of the nonmovant is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
his favor."). Although Rule 56 applies in the context of
habeas corpus cases, Clark v. Johnson, 202 F.3d 760,
764 (5th Cir. 2000), a court on summary judgment must view
the evidence through "the prism of the substantive
evidentiary burden." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254.
AEDPA limited both the nature and availability of habeas
review. General summary judgment standards apply to the
extent they do not conflict with AEDPA. See Smith v.
Cockrell, 311 F.3d 661, 668 (5th Cir. 2002) ("[Rule
56] applies only to the extent that it does not conflict with
the habeas rules."), abrogated on other grounds by
Tennard v. Dretke, 542 U.S. 274 (2004).
is representing himself. Self-represented habeas petitions
are construed liberally and are not held to the same
stringent and rigorous standards as pleadings lawyers file.
See Martin v. Maxey, 98 F.3d 844, 847 n.4 (5th Cir.
1996); Guidroz v. Lynaugh, 852 F.2d 832, 834 (5th
Cir. 1988); Woodall v. Foti, 648 F.2d 268, 271 (5th
Cir. Unit A June 1981). This court broadly interprets
Crawford's federal habeas petition. Bledsue v.
Johnson, 188 F.3d 250, 255 (5th Cir. 1999).
inmate can become eligible for early release in two ways. The
first is by parole; the second is by mandatory-supervision
release. Parole is "the discretionary and conditional
release of an eligible inmate sentenced to the institutional
division so that the inmate may serve the remainder of the
inmate's sentence under the supervision of the pardons
and paroles division." TEX. GOV'T Code §
508.001(6). Mandatory supervision is "the release of an
eligible inmate sentenced to the institutional division so
that the inmate may serve the remainder of the inmate's
sentence not on parole but under the supervision of the
pardons and paroles division." Tex. Gov't Code
§ 508.001(5). Parole is discretionary, but an
inmate's release to mandatory supervision is required,
subject to certain exceptions, when the "actual calendar
time the inmate has served plus any accrued good conduct time
equals the term to which the inmate was sentenced."
Id. at § 508.147(a); Jackson v.
Johnson, 475 F.3d 261, 263, n. 1 (5th Cir. 2007).
Crawford's TDCJ records show that he does not yet have
enough good-time and flat-time credits to be eligible for
mandatory supervision review.The issue is parole.
habeas relief cannot be granted unless Crawford alleges
deprivation of a right secured to him by the United States
Constitution, or the laws of the United States. Teague v.
Quarterman, 482 F.3d 769, 773 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing
Hillardv. Bd. of Pardons & Paroles, 759 F.2d
1190, 1192 (5th Cir. 1985)). Prison inmates are entitled to
protection under the Due Process Clause only when an official
action infringes upon a constitutionally protected liberty
interest. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995).
A state has no duty to establish a parole system, and there
is no constitutional right to be released on parole before
the expiration of a valid sentence. See Board of Pardons
v. Allen, 482 U.S. 369, 378 n. 10 (1987) ("statutes
or regulations that provide that a parole board 'may'
release an inmate on parole do not give rise to a protected
liberty interest"); Greenholtz v. Inmates of the
Neb. Penal & Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 11
(1979) (a statute which "provides no more than a mere
hope that the benefit will be obtained ... is not protected
by due process"). The Fifth Circuit has recognized
repeatedly that the Texas parole statutes create no
constitutional right to release on parole. See Williams
v. Briscoe, 641 F.2d 274, 277 (5th Cir. 1981) (the Texas
parole statute does not create a protectable expectancy of
release, as recognized in Greenholtz v. Inmates of the
Nebraska Penal & Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7
(1979), but rather creates nothing more than a hope of
parole); see also Allison v. Kyle, 66 F.3d 71, 74
(5th Cir. 1995); Orellana v. Kyle, 65 F.3d 29 (5th
Cir. 1995); Gilbertson v. Texas Board of Pardons and
Paroles, 993 F.2d 74, 75 (5th Cir. 1993); Creel v.
Keene, 928 F.2d 707, 712 (5th Cir. 1991). It is well
settled that Texas inmates "have no protected liberty
interest in parole." Johnson v. Rodriguez, 110
F.3d 299, 308 (5th Cir. 1997). Because Crawford has no right
to, or liberty interest in, parole, he cannot state a due
process claim based on the decision to deny it.
claim of state habeas error is also deficient.
"[I]nfirmities" or errors that occur during state
collateral review proceedings "do not constitute grounds
for relief in federal court." Trevino v.
Johnson, 168 F.3d 173, 180 (5th Cir. 1999); see also
Morris v. Cain, 186 F.3d 581, 585 n.6 (5th Cir. 1999);
Hallmarkv. Johnson, 118 F.3d 1073, 1080 (5th Cir.
1997); Nichols v. Scott, 69 F.3d 1255, 1275 (5th
Cir. 1995) (citations omitted). A habeas petitioner must
demonstrate federal "constitutional error at the trial
or direct review" before a federal court may issue the
writ. Morris, 186 F.3d at 585 n.6. As discussed
above, Crawford does not establish an error of constitutional
proportion. His dissatisfaction with the state collateral
review proceedings (as opposed to the state court's
findings, conclusions, and determinations) provides no basis
for federal habeas relief.
fails to state an actionable basis for federal habeas relief.