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Ciacci v. United States Probation Office

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 16, 2019

MICHAEL K. CIACCI, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES PROBATION OFFICE, Respondent.

          ORDER GRANTING IN FORMA PAUPERIS APPLICATION; DISMISSING PETITION; AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Petitioner Michael K. Ciacci's petition for a writ of habeas corpus brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (“Petition”), [1] and Application to Proceed in District Court Without Prepaying Fees or Costs (“IFP Application”). Ciacci is currently serving his term of supervised release, pursuant to his 2013 conviction in the District of Columbia Superior Court (“Superior Court”), in Hawaii under the authority of the United States Parole Commission. See D.C. Code § 24-133(c)(2).

         For the following reasons, the IFP Application is GRANTED, [2] the Petition is DISMISSED, and any request for certificate of appealability is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND[3]

         On September 12, 2013, Ciacci was found guilty in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia (“Superior Court”) of: (1) Aggravated Assault Knowingly While Armed (“Count 2 ”); (2) Assault With A Dangerous Weapon (“Count 3 ”); and (3) Assault with Significant Bodily Injury (“Count 4”). See Pet., ECF No. 1, at PageID #2; see also United States v. Ciacci, 2011 CF2 012334 (D.C. Super. Ct.), https://eaccess.dccourts.gov/eaccess/search.

         On November 15, 2013, the Superior Court sentenced Ciacci to 96 months imprisonment with five years supervised release on Count 2; 48 months imprisonment with three years supervised release on Count 3; and 24 months imprisonment with three years supervised release on Count 4, all terms to run concurrently. Ciacci, 2011 CF2 012334; see also Pet., ECF No. 1, at PageID #2. On November 27, 2013, Ciacci directly appealed his conviction and sentence. See Ciacci v. United States, 13-CF-1359 (D.C. Ct. App. 2013).

         On July 10, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (“D.C. Court of Appeals”) affirmed Ciacci's conviction in part, remanding to the Superior Court “to vacate the lesser-included convictions affected by the merger” of Count 2 with Counts 3 and 4. See Ciacci, 13-CF-1359; 2011 CF2 012334.

         On July 16, 2015, the Superior Court issued an Amended Judgment that merged Count 2 with Counts 3 and 4. It imposed a 48-month term on Count 3 and a 24-month term on Count 4, terms to run concurrently, with three-year terms of supervised release on both Counts. Id.

         On December 3, 2013, while his direct appeal was pending, Ciacci also filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence and Judgment (“Motion”), pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-110. The Superior Court denied the Motion on March 9, 2015. Id. Ciacci appealed, and the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed on September 21, 2016. See Ciacci v. United States, App. No. 15-CO-0334 (D.C. App. 2016). The mandate issued on October 13, 2016.

         Ciacci also filed a previous federal habeas petition, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, where he was then confined. See Ciacci v. Tripp, Civ. No 5:15-HC-2062-F (E.D. N. Car. Dec. 15, 2015). That petition was summarily dismissed for lack of venue, jurisdiction, and because Ciacci's § 23-110 was still pending in the D.C. Superior Court. Id.

         Ciacci filed the present Petition on September 4, 2019, after he was placed on supervised release in Hawaii. He “seeks relief from his [Superior Court] sentence on the grounds that the sentence violates the United States Constitution.” Pet., ECF No. 1, at PageID #1. Ciacci alleges that his sentence violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments because: (1) the judge who presided at his criminal trial was assigned to review and adjudicate his D.C. Code § 23-110 Motion; (2) his court-appointed public defender provided ineffective assistance of counsel before and during trial; and (3) his sentence, which included terms of incarceration and terms of supervised release, allegedly constitutes two separate sentences for one crime in violation of the Fifth Amendment.[4]

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court must screen all petitions for writ of habeas corpus before service to determine if “it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.” Rule 4, Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts (2012). As a pro se litigant, the petitioner's pleadings are accorded liberal construction and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93-94 (2007).

         III. ...


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