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Brown v. Payne

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 13, 2019

WILLIAM E. BROWN, Petitioner,
v.
STANLEY PAYNE, Respondent,

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on petitioner William E. Brown's “Motion for Probation Time Credit, ” which has been construed as a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Docket No. 1). For the reasons discussed below, the petition must be summarily dismissed as it does not state a denial of a constitutional right and because petitioner has not exhausted his state remedies.

         Background

         Petitioner was charged in state court with driving with a revoked license, resisting a lawful stop, three counts of exceeding the speed limit, failing to register a motor vehicle, and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle. State of Missouri v. Brown, No. 15SO-CR00479-01 (33rd Cir., Scott County).[1] On October 19, 2015, he pled guilty to resisting a lawful stop and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, in exchange for the balance of the charges being dismissed. That same day he was given a suspended four-year sentence and five years of supervised probation.

         On June 28, 2018, petitioner's probation was revoked. The circuit court thereafter ordered the previously-imposed four-year sentence to be executed. He filed a motion for probation time credit in the circuit court on August 17, 2018. That motion has not been ruled upon.

         The Petition

         Petitioner filed the instant “Motion for Probation Time Credit” on January 31, 2019. (Docket No. 1). The document is nearly identical to the motion filed in the circuit court. The Court has construed this motion as a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.[2]

         Petitioner states that from October 19, 2015 to June 22, 2017, he “served 611 uneventful and violation free days of probation.” (Docket No. 1 at 1). Thereafter, from June 23, 2017 to December 20, 2017, he “successfully served another 180 days of uneventful…probation.” Since December 20, 2017, petitioner has been incarcerated at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (ERDCC) in Bonne Terre, Missouri. (Docket No. 1 at 2). He was incarcerated due to a revocation of his probation. Since being placed in ERDCC, he states that he has received no conduct violations and has earned a letter of commendation from his work release supervisor.

         Petitioner states that his earliest possible parole date is June 27, 2020. He asserts that he “has great difficulty believing” that the circuit court intended “such a severe term of incarceration.” Petitioner further states that under Missouri law, parole time is automatically credited towards an offender's sentence. While acknowledging that probation time may be credited at the sentencing court's discretion, he argues that “probation time is not so different in substance from parole time, [and] the difference is in the governing statutes alone.” As such, he seeks credit for the approximately 790 days of violation-free probation time he served before being sentenced on his revocation.

         Discussion

         Petitioner has filed a petition seeking to have the time he served on probation credited against his sentence of incarceration. For the reasons discussed below, the petition must be summarily dismissed.

         A. Failure to State a Constitutional Claim

         Petitioner's petition must be dismissed because it does not allege that he is being held in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, and is thus not cognizable under § 2254.

         Pursuant to § 2254, “a district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). To that end, “it is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state law questions.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991). Rather, a federal court conducting habeas review is limited to deciding whether a petitioner's conviction violated the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. Gee v. Groose, 110 F.3d 1346, 1349 (8th Cir. 1997). The ...


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