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Heisserman v. Clarke

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

December 4, 2017

JESSE HAMPTON HEISSERMAN, Petitioner,
v.
HAROLD W. CLARKE, DIRECTOR, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Glen E. Conrad United States District Judge

         Jesse Hampton Heisserman, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the calculations of his preconviction jail time credit and good-time credit. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, and Heisserman failed to respond, making the matter ripe for disposition. After review of the record, the court concludes that the petition must be dismissed.

         I. Background [1]

         On August 16, 2012, Heisserman raped a minor under the age of thirteen in Augusta County, Virginia. The following month, law enforcement officers in Charles County, Maryland arrested Heisserman and placed him in federal custody. The United States Attorney proceeded against Heisserman under 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b). On October 22, 2012, the Commonwealth filed charges as well, but, on January 23, 2013, the Circuit Court of Augusta County entered an order granting the Commonwealth's motion to nolle prosequi them.

         The Commonwealth reindicted Heisserman on October 28, 2013, served a capias on him on October 31, and the United States dismissed its charge. Heisserman was released on bond on the Commonwealth's charges on February 25, 2014.

         Previously, federal authorities had held Heisserman in pretrial detention from September 16, 2012, through October 30, 2013. The Commonwealth took custody of Heisserman on October 31, 2013.

         On October 1, 2014, following acceptance of an Alford[2] plea, the August County Circuit Court convicted Heisserman under Va. Code § 18.2-61 and, by order of October 3, 2014, sentenced him to a term of 56 years with 40 years suspended. On November 3, 2014, Heisserman became state responsible, and the Legal Services Section of VDOC calculated the credit he had earned in local correctional facilities prior to his convictions-a total of 141 days.[3]

         II. Current Petition

         On May 10, 2017, Heisserman filed a timely § 2254 petition, raising two claims:

1. The VDOC failed to give him pre-conviction jail-time credit in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments; and
2. The VDOC failed to give him good-time credit from September 16, 2012 to February 23, 2014.

         This matter is now before the court on Respondent's motion to dismiss. Heisserman has properly exhausted his claims in state court.

         III. Standard of Review -To obtain federal habeas relief, 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). Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d), however, a federal court may not grant a writ, of habeas corpus based on any claim that a state court decided on the merits unless that adjudication:

(1) [R]esulted 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; or
(2) [R]esulted 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). "Where, as here, the state court's application of governing federal law is challenged, it must be shown to be not only erroneous, but objectively unreasonable." Yarborough v. Gentry. 540 U.S. 1, 5 (2003). Under this standard, "[a] state court's determination that a claim lacks merit precludes federal habeas relief so long as 'fair-minded jurists' could disagree on the correctness of the state court's decision." Harrington ...


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