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Mitchell v. Underwood

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

February 8, 2019

JAMES B. MITCHELL BOP Register No. 47109-080, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN UNDERWOOD, Respondent.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          DAVID L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner James B. Mitchell, a federal prisoner, in custody at FCI Seagoville, filed a pro se application for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the Bureau of Prison's (“BOP”) reliance on the presentence report (“PSR”) prepared by the United States Probation Office in the district in which he was convicted (the “USPO”). See Dkt. No. 2; see also United States v. Mitchell, No. 5:10-CR-50067-001 (W.D. Ark.).

         This resulting action has been referred to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for pretrial management under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and a standing order of reference from United States District Judge Karen Gren Scholer.

         The undersigned enters these findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation that the Court should summarily dismiss the habeas petition.

         Applicable Background, Legal Standards, and Analysis

         “Federal courts are authorized, under 28 U.S.C. § 2243, to dispose of habeas corpus matters ‘as law and justice require, '” Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 775 (1987). That statute “authorizes a district court to summarily dismiss a frivolous habeas-corpus petition prior to any answer or other pleading by the government, ” Gatte v. Upton, No. 4:14-cv-376-Y, 2014 WL 2700656, at *1 (N.D. Tex. June 13, 2014) (footnote omitted). And, under the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts - equally applicable “to § 2241 habeas cases, ” Romero v. Cole, No. 1:16-cv-148, 2016 WL 2893709, at *2 & n.4 (W.D. La. Apr. 13, 2016) (collecting authority, including Castillo v. Pratt, 162 F.Supp.2d 575, 576 (N.D. Tex. 2001)), rec. accepted, 2016 WL 2844013 (W.D. La. May 12, 2016) - “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition, ” Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.

         In his sole ground for relief, Mitchell claims that the BOP “is knowingly using false information in my PSR (that I knowingly used minors in my escort business)” and is thus violating his “due process Constitutional rights” under the Fifth Amendment. Dkt. No. 2 at 5. He further explains that this allegedly false information affects his “custody classification” and thus denies him “eligibility to go to a camp or home confinement.” Id. (further explaining that “[a]n evidentiary hearing will prove the information in my PSR is false and not a reliable source of information for using by the BOP to determine my eligibility for the benefits”).

         And, while Mitchell mentions that this purportedly false information prevented his early release after completing the BOP's Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”), see id., he clarifies that “that is not the issue I am raising in this 2241 petition, but rather a violation of my Constitutional rights using false information, ” id. at 7; see also Mitchell v. Underwood, No. 3:17-cv-2939-D-BT, 2018 WL 3598778 (N.D. Tex. June 25, 2018) (denying Mitchell's Section 2241 petition challenging the BOP's determination that he was ineligible for early release under the RDAP), rec. adopted, 2018 WL 3586662 (N.D. Tex. July 26, 2018).

         First, as another court explained in a similar lawsuit, BOP

is authorized to use a [PSR] prepared by the USPO to determine a prisoner's custody level. Although a prisoner may challenge the accuracy of information in a [PSR], the prisoner may not direct that challenge to the BOP. See BOP Program Statement 5800.17. Rather, because a [PSR] is a court document prepared by the USPO, a prisoner seeking to challenge any aspect of a [PSR] must direct that challenge to either the district court in which he was convicted or the USPO. Id. If the USPO later reports an inaccuracy, the BOP staff files that information with the inmate's file and removes the document containing inaccurate information. Id. Unlike the USPO, the BOP has no authority to make any changes to a [PSR].

Gbor v. Entzel, No. ED CV 17-1666-R (PLA), 2017 WL 6755113, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 30, 2017) (citation omitted), rec. accepted, 2017 WL 6734173 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2017).

         And, consistent with this framework, attached to Mitchell's petition is a January 9, 2019 letter from a unit manager at FCI Segoville to the Chief United States Probation Officer for the Western District of Arkansas, providing:

Inmate James Mitchell has requested to challenge a portion of his PSI. He has requested Unit Team forward these documents to the USPO on his behalf. As per Program Statement 5800.17, Unit Team will forward the inmates written challenge to the appropriate USPO.
Enclosed please find a written statement and copies of supporting evidence inmate Mitchell, James, register number 47109-080 would like the USPO to consider when reading ...

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