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Pittman v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. California, Oakland Division

September 3, 2014




Petitioner Brandy Pittman ("Pittman") was convicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington on various federal criminal charges in two separate prosecutions in 2004 and 2009. She is presently incarcerated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") at the Federal Correctional Institution located in Dublin, California, which lies in the Northern District of California. Venue is proper in this District. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

This matter is presently before the Court on Pittman's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. Dkt. 1. Because Pittman challenges the calculation of her sentence, as opposed its legality, the Court liberally construes the motion as a habeas petition brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Having read and considered the papers filed in connection with this matter, and being fully informed, the Court hereby DISMISSES the petition without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.



In July 2004, Pittman was arrested in the state of Washington on federal drug trafficking charges. Gov. Resp. Ex. A, Dkt. 8; United States v. Pittman, Case No. CR04-05350RBL-010 (W.D. Wash.). She eventually pleaded guilty to Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Cocaine Base, and on January 20, 2006, was sentenced by the Honorable Robert Leighton in the Western District of Washington to thirty-eight months in the custody of the BOP, followed by three years of supervised release. The sentence was based on a USSG 5K1.1 downward departure from the 360-480 month Guideline range.

Pittman began her term of supervised release on April 13, 2007. Id . Ex. B. On October 28, 2008, Pittman was arrested for and later charged with assault, based on her attempt to run over a former boyfriend and his new girlfriend with her car. Pittman was sentenced to six months in the Pierce County Jail. Id . Ex. A ¶ 83.

On November 7, 2008, while she was still in custody on the assault case, Judge Leighton issued a federal arrest warrant based on supervised release violations the 2004 case, i.e., No. CR04-05350RBL-010. Melick Decl. Att. 3. On the same date, Pittman was formally arrested by Lakewood police for new theft and forgery related charges. Pittman remained in county jail from her arrest on October 28, 2008, through May 4, 2009. Id . Ex. C.

On May 4, 2009, after completing her state sentence, Pittman was transferred to federal custody to face the supervised release violations. Id . Ex. C; Melick Decl. Att. 5. Shortly thereafter, on May 20, 2009, Pittman was charged in a federal indictment filed in the Western District of Washington with bank fraud, social security fraud, and aggravated theft. United States v. Pittman, Case No. 09CR05349RBL-001. The new federal charges were based on offense conduct leading to her arrest by Lakewood police on November 7, 2008.

On February 5, 2010, the Petitioner appeared before Judge Leighton for sentencing on both the supervised release violations in the 2004 case and the new charges in the 2009 case. The court sentenced Pittman to twenty-four months on the supervised release violations and fifty-seven months in custody on the new charges, to run consecutively, for an aggregate sentence of eighty-one months. Att. 8. At Pittman's request, and over the Government's objections, Judge Leighton recommended that Pittman receive credit for the time period spanning her arrest on the theft and forgery charges by state law enforcement officials until her transfer to federal custody (i.e., November 7, 2008 to May 4, 2009). Gov. Ex. D (Reporter's Transcript) at 27:8-10, 29:10-14, Dkt. 8-4.


On January 25, 2011, Pittman filed the instant § 2255 motion in the Western District of Washington. Dkt. 1. In "Ground One, " Pittman alleges that the district court erroneously sentenced her to eighty-eight months instead of eighty-one months. Mot. at 5. Since the district court, in fact, sentenced Pittman to eighty-one months, the Court liberally construes this claim as one that the BOP wrongly computed her total sentence as eighty-eight months, instead of the actual eighty-one month sentence previously imposed by the District Court.[1] "Ground Two" is entitled "S.V.R. Violation, " and requests a "split sentence" which will allow her to serve one year of her sentence in a "halfway house or home confinement." Id. at 7.

Although no other claims for relief are presented, Pittman makes several other allegations elsewhere in her motion. In particular, Pittman claims that she was "confused about how it all happened" and that her "fill-in" attorney (who had replaced her previous attorney when he withdrew) provided "ineffective counsel." Id. at 11. Though not entirely clear, this complaint appears to be predicated upon the notion that the number of her criminal history points was "more then what they should have been." Id.

The Government filed a response to the § 2255 motion, arguing that because the motion pertains the execution of the sentence-and not its legality-her claims are cognizable only in the district of confinement, i.e., the Northern District of California. Gov. Resp. at 1-2, Dkt. 8. Alternatively, the Government argued that Pittman's claims were unripe on the ...

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