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William Torres v. Torres's Thomas Read

November 14, 2012

WILLIAM TORRES,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
TORRES'S THOMAS READ, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Oki Mollway Chief United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT READ'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON TORRES'S FEDERAL CLAIMS AND REMANDING STATE-LAW CLAIMS

I. INTRODUCTION.

Plaintiff William Torres is suing Defendant Thomas Read in his official and individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for constitutional and state-law violations in connection with an alleged miscalculation of his sentence. Torres claims that Read's miscalculation of his "maximum term release date" from prison caused Torres to be released 53 days after he should have been released.

Read now moves for summary judgment on all counts on the grounds that: (1) as an employee of the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety ("DPS") at all times relevant to this case, he may not be sued in his official capacity under § 1983;

(2) he is entitled to qualified immunity with respect to federal claims against him in his individual capacity; (3) the state tort claims against him in his official capacity cannot proceed because the state has not waived its sovereign immunity; and (4) Torres does not plead a cognizable negligence claim. See Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 12 ("Motion").

The court grants Read's motion for summary judgment on Torres's federal claims and remands all of Torres's state-law claims to state court.

II. BACKGROUND FACTS.

This case involves a change in the way DPS calculated an inmate's "maximum term release date" ("MTRD"). DPS says that the change was a correction consistent with a state statute, and that prior calculations had been erroneous. The change involved treating sentences imposed on an individual at different times as running consecutively, although DPS had previously assumed they ran concurrently. The change therefore resulted in longer custody periods for some inmates.

Torres is one of the inmates affected by the change. The part of Torres's life relevant to the present motion begins on March 11, 1991, when Torres was sentenced to ten years in prison on each of two counts of burglary in the first degree before the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. See Judgment in Cr. No. 90-0399, ECF No. 13-2 ("First Judgment"). The First Judgment provided that the sentences on both counts were "to be served concurrent with each other and concurrent to any other sentence defendant is serving." Id.

In a separate state case, Torres was sentenced to probation for a separate burglary and three sexual abuse counts. He violated the terms of his probation, leading the state court to revoke probation and resentence him on May 17, 1991, to ten years in prison for the burglary count and five years for each of the sexual abuse counts, "with credit for time served." See Judgment in Cr. No. 86-0994, ECF No. 13-3 ("Second Judgment"). The Second Judgment provided that, "Said sentence is to be served concurrently as to each Count." Id.

On April 23, 2000, the Hawaii Paroling Authority released Torres from prison based on what it now says was an incorrect calculation of his MTRD. Decl. of Nettie Simmons ("Simmons Decl.") ¶ 4, ECF 12-2; see also Dep't of Corrections Offense Data Sheet, ECF No. 13-4.

The DPS explains, "Prior to January 1, 2005, the Department of Public Safety had a practice of treating all sentences imposed at different times as running concurrent to each other, unless the judgment stated they were to run consecutively." Simmons Decl. ¶ 14, ECF No. 12-2. "This practice did not comply with HRS § 706-668.5, as it existed at the time." Id. At the time, Section 706-668.5 said, "Multiple terms of imprisonment imposed at different times run consecutively unless the court orders that the terms run concurrently." On January 1, 2005, "a new written policy became effective which required that sentences imposed at different times shall be treated as running consecutively to any other sentence being served by the defendant, unless the judgment stated they were to run concurrently." Simmons Decl. ¶ 15.

Torres did not remain free for very long after his release in 2000. Torres was sentenced on November 27, 2002, to ten years in prison for each of three burglary counts, ten years for kidnapping, and five years for unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. See Judgment in Cr. No. 01-1-0548, ECF No. 13-5 ("Third Judgment"). The Third Judgment provided for those prison terms "to run concurrently with other." Id.

On October 19, 2009, Torres's MTRD was calculated as March 5, 2011. 9/19/09 Sentence Computation Form, ECF No. 13-6. On March 1, 2011, just four days before Torres was scheduled to be released, DPS reviewed Torres's file and realized that Torres's previously calculated MTRD of March 5, 2011, was based on the old DPS practice of assuming that sentences imposed at different times ran concurrently. Simmons Decl. ΒΆ 11, ECF No. 12-2. DPS then revised its calculation so that Torres's sentence in the Third Judgment ran "consecutive with [the Second Judgment] pursuant to HRS 706-668.5," resulting in a new MTRD of January 22, ...


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