United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MELVIN A. COLEMAN, Petitioner,
HAROLD W. CLARKE, Respondent.
Roderick C. Young, United States Magistrate Judge.
A. Coleman, a Virginia state prisoner proceeding pro
se, brings this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254 (hereinafter, "§ 2254 Petition, " ECF No.
1) challenging the execution of his sentence. Specifically,
Coleman contends the Virginia Department of Corrections
"incorrectly failed to subtract the 2 years which the
court suspended" from his sentence. (Id. at 6.)
Therefore, Coleman argues that he "will be illegally and
unconstitutionally incarcerated for 2 years past his correct
release date." (Id.) Respondent has moved to
dismiss on the ground that Coleman's claim lacks merit.
For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 11) will be GRANTED.
a jury trial, on December 5, 2013, in the Circuit Court of
King George County ("Circuit Court"), Coleman was
found guilty of Driving on a Revoked License, Driving After
Declared an Habitual Offender, and Driving Under the
Influence. (ECF No. 12-1, at 11.) For the offense of Driving
on a Revoked License, the Circuit Court sentenced "the
defendant to Incarceration in the Virginia Department of
Corrections for a term of 3 years." (Id. at
For the offense of Driving After Declared an Habitual
Offender, the Circuit Court sentenced "the defendant to
3 years" of incarceration. (Id.) For the
offense of Driving Under the Influence, the Circuit Court
sentenced "the defendant to a jail term of 12 months
...." (Id.) The Circuit Court further stated
that "[a]n additional term of 2 years is suspended,
pursuant to Virginia Code 19.2 -295.2." (Id.
(emphasis added).) That statute provides, in pertinent part:
At the time the court imposes sentence upon a conviction for
any felony offense... [the court] shall, in addition to any
other punishment imposed if such other punishment includes an
active term of incarceration in a state or local correctional
facility, except in cases in which the court orders a
suspended term of confinement of at least six months, impose
a term of postrelease supervision of not less than six months
nor more than three years, as the court may determine. Such
additional term shall be suspended and the defendant placed
under postrelease supervision upon release from the active
term of incarceration. The period of supervision shall be
established by the court; however, such period shall not be
less than six months nor more than three years. Periods of
postrelease supervision imposed pursuant to this section upon
more than one felony conviction may be ordered to run
concurrently. Periods of postrelease supervision imposed
pursuant to this section may be ordered to run concurrently
with any period of probation the defendant may also be
subject to serve.
Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-295.2(A) (West 2016) (emphasis
added). Thus, as reflected in the Circuit Court's
sentencing order, Coleman was sentenced to "6 years and
12 months" of incarceration, plus an additional 2-year
term of postrelease supervision. (ECF No. 12-1, at 12.)
March 27, 2015, Coleman filed a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus with Supreme Court of Virginia wherein he complained
that the Virginia Department of Corrections was incorrectly
requiring that he serve "6 years and 12 months."
(Id. at 6.) Coleman asserted that he only had
"an active sentence of 4 years and 12 months, "
because the Circuit Court had suspended two years of his
total sentence. (Id.). The Supreme Court of Virginia
rejected this claim on the ground that "petitioner's
sentences have been accurately calculated."
(Id. at 32.)
The Applicable Constraints Upon Federal Habeas
order to obtain federal habeas relief, at a minimum, a
petitioner must demonstrate that he is "in custody in
violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the
United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
("AEDPA") of 1996 further circumscribed this
Court's authority to grant relief by way of a writ of
habeas corpus. Specifically, "[s]tate court factual
determinations are presumed to be correct and may be rebutted
only by clear and convincing evidence." Gray v.
Branker, 529 F.3d 220, 228 (4th Cir. 2008) (citing
28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1)). Additionally, under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(d), a federal court may not grant a writ of
habeas corpus based on any claim that was adjudicated on the
merits in state court unless the adjudicated claim:
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). The Supreme Court has emphasized
that the question "is not whether a federal court
believes the state court's determination was incorrect
but whether that determination was unreasonable-a
substantially higher threshold." Schriro v.
Landrigan, 550 U.S. 465, 473 (2007) (citing
Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 410
as he did on state habeas, Coleman insists that VDOC has
incorrectly calculated his sentence because he only received
an active sentence of 4 years and 12 months as the Circuit
Court suspended two years of his total sentence. The record
plainly reflects that the Circuit Court sentenced Coleman to
"6 years and 12 months" of incarceration, plus an
additional 2- year term of postrelease supervision. (ECF No.
12-1, at 12.) The Circuit Court did not suspend any of the
term of active incarceration it imposed upon
Coleman. As Coleman fails to demonstrate that ...