Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Schlegel v. Rios

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 17, 2019

Michael A. Schlegel, Petitioner,
v.
M. Rios, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ELIZABETH COWAN WRIGHT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Michael A. Schlegel's (“Schlegel”) Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Dkt. No. 1) (“Petition”), Motion to Amend Petition (Dkt. No. 4) (“Motion to Amend”), and Motion for Interim Conditional Release (Dkt. No. 5). The Petition requests “Immediate Release” pursuant to the Second Chance Act of 2007 as amended by the First Step Act of 2018. (Dkt. No. 1 at 6.) The Motion to Amend seeks to add a claim that Schlegel's Good Time Credit be adjusted pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018. (Dkt. No. 4.) The Motion for Interim Conditional Release adds information related to the Petition and Motion and requests a conditional release. (Dkt. No. 5 at 1, 6.) The case has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.1. For the reasons stated below, the Court recommends that the Petition be dismissed without prejudice, the Motion to Amend be denied as moot, and the Motion for Interim Conditional Release be denied without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Schlegel is currently incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth, Minnesota (“FPC-Duluth”). (Dkt. No. 1 at 1.) He was convicted of (1) Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; (2) Attempt to Evade or Defeat Tax, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201; and (3) Willful Failure to File Tax Return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7203. (Dkt. No. 13-1, Ex. A at 2.) Schlegel was sentenced on May 19, 2015 in the District of Minnesota to a 60-month term of imprisonment, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. (Id.) He has a projected release date of September 25, 2019, via good conduct time release. (Id.)

         On January 14, 2019, Schlegel brought a Motion for Immediate Release pursuant to the Second Chance Act of 2007 in his criminal case. United States of America v. Schlegel, 13-cr-74 (PJS/FLN), Dkt. No. 236 (D. Minn. Jan. 14, 2019). United States District Judge Patrick J. Schiltz denied Schlegel's motion without prejudice, stating that “to the extent Schlegel may have a claim for relief under [the Second Chance Act of 2007], he cannot pursue it by motion in his criminal case, but must instead file a separate civil action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241.” Id., Dkt. No. 239 (D. Minn. Jan. 31, 2019) (citing Matheny v. Morrison, 307 F.3d 709, 711 (8th Cir. 2002)). Schlegel has since filed numerous related motions in his criminal case, id., Dkt. Nos. 240, 242, 244, 246, 248, 250, 252, which have all been denied without prejudice, id., Dkt. Nos. 241, 243, 245, 247, 249, 251, 253.

         Schlegel filed his § 2241 Petition on February 11, 2019, seeking immediate release pursuant to the Second Chance Act of 2007, alleging that “inmates over 60 years of age that have completed 2/3rds of their sentence are eligible for Immediate Release.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 6.) The “immediate release” that Schlegel seeks is to home confinement (the “home confinement claim”) pursuant to amendments to the Second Chance Act of 2007 by the First Step Act of 2018.[1] (See Dkt. No. 16 at ECF-3.) On March 1, 2019, Schlegel filed his Motion to Amend to add to his claim that his Good Time Credit should be recalculated based on the First Step Act of 2018 (the “GTC claim”). (Dkt. No. 4.) Because Schlegel filed his Motion to Amend within 21 days of serving his Petition, he could amend “as a matter of course” and the Court will therefore consider it as part of his Petition. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(1). Schlegel also filed the Motion for Interim Conditional Release on March 1, 2019. (Dkt. No. 5.)

         The Government filed its response brief on March 22, 2019 addressing both the Petition and the Motions. (Dkt. No. 12.) In its response brief, the Government argued that Schlegel's Petition should be dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies, as not ripe, and because Schlegel lacks a statutory or constitutional entitlement to relief and that the motions to amend and for interim conditional release should be denied as meritless. (Id. at 10.)

         Schlegel filed his reply on March 29, 2019. (Dkt. No. 16.) Schlegel asserts that his Petition is ripe for review and asks the Court to reduce his sentence by an additional 35 days off his imprisonment.[2] (Id. at ECF-3.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

         Generally, federal prisoners must exhaust all available administrative remedies prior to seeking federal habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329, 335 (1992); see also Mathena v. United States, 577 F.3d 943, 946 (8th Cir. 2009). However, because the concept of exhaustion for § 2241 petitions is judicially created and not mandated by statute, the Court has discretion to determine if the exhaustion requirement must be met. See Lueth v. Beach, 498 F.3d 795, 797 n.3 (8th Cir. 2007) (holding that failure to exhaust does not affect a court's ability to a decide case where “the exhaustion prerequisite for filing a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition is judicially created, not jurisdictional”). Here, Schlegel has not exhausted his administrative remedies for either his home confinement claim or his GTC claim (Dkt. No. 1 at 2; Dkt. No. 13 ¶ 13), but the Court concludes that the exhaustion requirement should be excused for Schlegel's GTC claim, but not the home confinement claim.

         In “balancing the individual's interests in retaining prompt access to a federal forum against countervailing institutional interests favoring exhaustion, ” courts have concluded that the exhaustion requirement may be excused due to time constraints or where proceeding through the administrative remedy process would undoubtedly be an exercise in futility that could serve no useful purpose. McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S. 140, 146, 148 (1992), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85 (2006); see also Elwood v. Jeter, 386 F.3d 842, 844 n.1 (8th Cir. 2004) (exhaustion requirement waived based on governmental concession that “continued use of the [administrative] grievance procedure to contest the validity of the [Bureau of Prisons]'s new policy would be futile”).

         Regarding Schlegel's home confinement claim, the balancing of interests does not favor excusing the exhaustion requirement because the home confinement pilot program is highly individualized, and, as explained in Section II.B, the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) is in the best position to determine whether Schlegel is eligible and an appropriate candidate for that program.

         In the case of Schlegel's GTC claim, the balancing of interests favors having the issues raised by Schlegel promptly decided over the institutional interests protected by the exhaustion requirement, especially in light of the fact that the BOP has established its position as it relates to the effective date of the First Step Act. Therefore, the Court waives the exhaustion requirement and reaches the merits of Schlegel's claim for recalculation of his Good Time Credit.

         B. Request for Immediate Home Confinement

         As noted above, the Court recommends the Petition be denied on the home confinement claim for failure to exhaust remedies, but the Court also recommends it be dismissed because the Court lacks authority to order the BOP to place Schlegel in home confinement. Schlegel seeks home confinement pursuant to the Second Chance Act of 2007 as amended by First Step Act of 2018. (Dkt. No. 16 at ECF-3.) The elderly inmate home confinement pilot program, codified at 34 U.S.C. § 60541(g) states:

(1) Program authorized
(A) In general
The Attorney General shall conduct a pilot program to determine the effectiveness of removing eligible elderly offenders and eligible terminally ill offenders from Bureau of Prisons facilities and placing such offenders on home detention until the expiration of the prison term to which the offender was sentenced.
(B) Placement in home detention
In carrying out a pilot program as described in subparagraph (A), the Attorney General may release some or all eligible elderly offenders and eligible terminally ill offenders from Bureau of Prisons facilities to home detention, upon written request from either the Bureau of Prisons ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.