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JONES v. U.S.

September 19, 2005.

LOTHARIO JONES, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CLAUDIA WILKEN, District Judge

ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR CORRECTION OF JAIL TIME CREDIT AND MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
Petitioner Lothario Jones, a federal inmate currently residing in a federal penitentiary located in Atwater, California, moves under 28 U.S.C. § 2241*fn1 to receive credit on his federal sentence for twenty days served in State custody following his arrest. He also requests a default judgment in this matter due to the delay in Respondent's reply to his petition. Respondent opposes the petition. Petitioner did not file a reply. Having considered the papers filed by the parties, the Court DENIES Petitioner's motion for a default judgment and DENIES Petitioner's motion for prior custody credit. BACKGROUND

On September 26, 2001, officers of the Oakland police department arrested Petitioner, a convicted felon, for possession of a firearm. Gonzaga Decl. at ¶ 3; Presentence Report, Resp.'s Ex. 1 at 1. At the time of his arrest, Petitioner was on State felony probation. Resp.'s Ex. 1 at 1. On October 15, 2001, the Alameda County superior court sentenced Petitioner to serve twenty days in jail for his probation violation. Resp.'s Ex. 1 at 1. Because Petitioner had spent twenty days in custody while his case was pending, this twenty-day term of imprisonment was discharged on the day it issued. See id.

  Petitioner remained in State custody until November 29, 2001, when the United States Marshal took him into custody pursuant to a federal detainer based on a charged violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). On December 9, 2002, Petitioner plead guilty to this charge and was sentenced to fifty-seven months imprisonment. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) credited Petitioner for time spent in custody between October 16, 2001 and his sentencing date of December 9, 2002. Inmate Data, Resp.'s Ex. 3 at 3.

  On February 8, 2005, Petitioner filed a motion requesting a reduction in the term of his imprisonment for the twenty days he served in county jail between September 26, 2001 and October 15, 2001. On March 17, 2005, in response to Petitioner's motion, this Court issued an Order to Show Cause instructing Respondent to file a response within thirty days. On April 20, 2005, Petitioner filed a motion for a judgment of default. On May 20, 2005, Respondent filed a request for an extension of time to file an opposition, which was granted by this Court in an order filed on May 31, 2005. On June 2, 2005, Respondent filed its opposition.

  LEGAL STANDARD

  I. Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241

  After a district court sentences a federal offender, the Attorney General, through the BOP, has the responsibility for administering the sentence. United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329, 335 (1992) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3621(a)). This includes responsibility for computing time credits and determining a sentence termination date once the defendant actually commences serving his sentence. Id. at 333-335; United States v. Checchini, 967 F.2d 348, 349 (9th Cir. 1992). District courts lack the authority to compute or to grant time credits at sentencing. Wilson, 503 U.S. at 333; Checchini, 967 F.2d at 349. Once a prisoner commences his federal sentence and exhausts his administrative remedies, however, he can petition for judicial review of the Attorney General's computation of his sentence. Wilson, 503 U.S. at 335; Checchini, 967 F.2d at 350. This is done by way of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. United States v. Koller, 956 F.2d 1408, 1417 (7th Cir. 1992); accord United States v. Giddings, 740 F.2d 770, 772 (9th Cir. 1984).

  DISCUSSION

  I. Default Judgment

  Petitioner argues that because Respondent's delay in filing an opposition to his petition violates this Court's March 17 Order to Show Cause and creates "unnecessary prejudice," a default judgment is warranted. This claim is not well-taken.

  Default judgments are "generally disfavored, and whenever it is reasonably possible, cases should be decided upon their merits." In re Hammer, 940 F.2d 524, 525 (9th Cir. 1991) (internal quotations omitted). No entry of default judgment may be entered against the United States "unless claimant establishes a claim or right to relief by evidence satisfactory to the court." Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(e).

  Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 6.1 of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Respondent made a motion for an extension of time in which to respond to Petitioner's motion. In this motion, Respondent indicated that the attorney originally assigned to this case had been in Yugoslavia*fn2 for the past year and a half and that counsel for Respondent had not timely recognized that another attorney would need to prepare a response. In its discretion and in the interest of justice, this Court granted Respondent's request for an extension.

  Regardless of whether Respondent's assertions excuse its failure to comply with the Court's Order to Show Cause, Petitioner has not supported his contention that he has suffered "unnecessary prejudice." Further, as discussed further below, Petitioner's claim is without merit. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55(e) requires a satisfactory showing of a meritorious claim before a default judgment is entered against the United States. Because ...


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