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Garcia v. Upton

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

May 1, 2018

SHANNON MAY GARCIA, Petitioner,
v.
JODY R. UPTON, Warden, FMC-Carswell, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Reed O' Connor UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by Petitioner, Shannon May Garcia, a federal prisoner who is confined at FMC-Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, against Jody R. Upton, warden of FMC-Carswell, Respondent. After considering the pleadings and relief sought by Petitioner, the Court has concluded that the petition should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This habeas petition involves the Initiative on Executive Clemency (IEC) for federal prisoners. Petitioner is serving a term of 180 months' confinement for her conviction in the Western District of Missouri for conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Resp't's Resp. 2, doc. 8. Petitioner asserts that she filed a formal petition for clemency, which was apparently evaluated by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The “Executive Summary - Clemency Project 2014, ” attached as exhibit A to the petition, indicates that, although Petitioner has exhibited good conduct in prison, has a minimal criminal history, and has no history of violence, she was ineligible for clemency “because the sentence that she would likely receive today is not less than her current sentence.” Pet., Ex. A, doc. 1. Petitioner contends that this Court has jurisdiction to review her claims and the DOJ's “review process” under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which provides that “[a] person suffering a legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute, is entitled to judicial review thereof.” Id. at 2; 5 U.S.C. § 702.

         II. ISSUES

         Petitioner claims that former President Obama and the DOJ exercised presidential clemency power and executive action in violation of the United States Constitution and federal regulations in reviewing and granting clemency and/or sentence commutations. Id. at. 1. Specifically, she lists the following alleged constitutional and statutory violations:

1. Ex Post Facto Clause violation where the DOJ changed the criteria for qualifying for clemency, making it more onerous to qualify under the IEC than 28 CFR §§ 1.0-1.11. The criteria for the IEC were not in effect when the Petitioner committed her offense.
2. Equal Protection Clause violation where many male prisoners with 15 year sentences, who had not served 10 years, were not first offenders, and had firearms, were granted clemency and/or sentence reductions--while no women like the Petitioner were granted the same relief, or exceptions to the IEC criteria.
3. Substantive Due Process violation where violent, career offenders were released after serving less than 10 years, but the Petitioner, a first offender with no history of violence and a good prison disciplinary record was denied release. The former Acting U.S. Attorney General . . . recommended the release of prisoners that were in segregation for acts of violence and selling drugs in prison.
4. APA violation, where the [DOJ] made substantive changes to the clemency regulations and procedures, but failed to comply with the “notice and comment” requirements of Sections 551 and 553, which makes all decisions granting or denying clemency void ab initio.
5. In accordance with the Accardi Doctrine, Accardi v. Shaughnessy, 347 U.S. 260 (1954), agency [sic] are required [to] comply with their own regulations. If exceptions are made, then the same must be applied to those similarly situated. As stated above, many male prisoners with 10-20 years did not meet the criteria of the IEC, but were granted release.

Id. at 2-3.

         Petitioner seeks release from custody; “a sentence reduction equal to the reductions given to other male prisoners with a 15 year sentence, but were not first time offenders like” her; and/or “a referral to U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to investigate and make findings on the maladministration of the [DOJ]'s release of firearm felons, gang members, and other violent prisoners, while denying release to non-violent prisoners.” Id. at 1-2.

         III. ...


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