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Williams v. Espinda

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

September 16, 2019

MAUNU RENAH WILLIAMS, #A6070389, Petitioner,
v.
NOLAN P. ESPINDA, Respondent,

          ORDER DISMISSING PETITION AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge.

         Before the court is Petitioner Maunu Renah Williams' Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. ECF No. 1. Williams challenges the calculation of his sentence in State v. Williams, Cr. No. 14-1-00470 (Haw. 3d Cir.), which was imposed by the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (“circuit court”), State of Hawaii, on February 3, 2015. See 3PC141000470, avail. At: https://jimspss1.courts.state.hi.us (last visited Sept.12, 2019).[1]

         Because it is clear from the face of the Petition and records referred to therein that Williams fails to state a colorable claim for habeas relief, and that his claims are currently pending before the Hawaii state courts, the Petition and this action are DISMISSED without prejudice pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. Any request for a certificate of appealability is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 27, 2015, Williams pled guilty to one felony charge of Promotion of Dangerous Drug 3d (Count 2), and two felony charges of possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Counts 7 & 8), in Cr. No.14-1-00470. See 3PC141000470. On February 3, 2015, the circuit court sentenced Williams to a five-year minimum term in Count 2, mitigated to time served, and to five-year terms in Counts 7 and 8, with credit for time served, all terms to be served concurrently. Williams did not appeal.

         Williams claims that Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) prison officials have recently conspired against him to recalculate and change his maximum term of sentence to a later date of release than the date originally set. Specifically, Williams states that Hawaii Community Correctional Center (“HCCC”) official Gayle K. Tavares originally calculated his maximum date of release as August 7, 2019. See Pet., ECF No. 1, at PageID #8. He claims that Halawa Correctional Facility (“HCF”) records clerk, Cely Ann Guittap, fraudulently altered this maximum release date in the DPS computer system, changing it to November 16 rather than August 7, 2019, to retaliate against him, and to seek fame and attention. Williams further alleges that DPS officials Maria Cook, Shari Kimoto, Monica Lortz, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, Dovie Borges, and Warden Scott Harrington conspired with Third Circuit Judge Glen Nakamura, who originally sentenced Williams, to express their support for ex- Honolulu Chief of Police Louis Kealoha and his wife, as part of a widespread pattern of corruption that Williams intends to expose.[2] Williams alleges that he is being over-detained in violation of the Eighth Amendment and DPS rules, regulations, and procedures.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The court must screen all actions brought by prisoners who seek any form of relief from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, including habeas relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (Habeas Rule 4) requires the court to dismiss a habeas petition “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.”

         III. DISCUSSION

         Because Williams is currently in custody pursuant to the judgment of the Hawaii circuit court in Cr. No. 14-1-00470, the Court construes the Petition as brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, rather than § 2241, because § 2254 is the exclusive vehicle for a habeas petition by a state prisoner in custody pursuant to a state court judgment, even when the petitioner is not challenging the underlying state court conviction. See White v. Lambert, 370 F.3d 1002, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2004).[3]

         A. The Petition Fails to State a Cognizable Claim

         To the extent that Williams challenges a miscalculation in his release date, the Petition must be dismissed for failure to state a cognizable federal habeas claim. Habeas relief is available only if the petitioner's conviction or sentence is “in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991) (“[I]t is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law questions.”); Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209, 221 (1982) (“A federally issued writ of habeas corpus, of course, reaches only convictions obtained in violation of some provision of the United States Constitution.”).

         Matters relating to sentencing are generally governed by state law and do not raise a federal constitutional question. Waddington v. Sarausad, 555 U.S. 179, 192 n.5 (2009) (“[W]e have repeatedly held that it is not the province of a federal habeas court to reexamine state-court determinations on state-law questions”) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Williams does not even claim a sentencing error. Rather, he claims an administrative error has been made in the execution of his sentence. Williams argues that he is being detained past his release date in violation of due process and his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

         Regardless of whether or how DPS and HCF officials erred in calculating Williams' sentence, however, sentencing calculations are governed by state law. See Brooks v. Poulos, 370 Fed.Appx. 826, 827 (9th Cir. 2010) (“[T]he determination of a formula for calculating the restoration of good time credits is an unreviewable issue of state law.”); see also O'Neal v. Sherman, 2016 WL 1714552, at *17 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2016) (federal habeas courts “lack the resources to engage in the minutiae of credit calculations for state prisoners, a state law matter properly reserved to state officials who . . . apply[ ] state law”). Williams cannot convert his claim for a violation of Hawaii state sentencing statutes and regulations into claims under the United States Constitution simply by referencing due process and the Eighth Amendment. See Langford v. Day, 110 F.3d 1380, 1389 (9th Cir. 1997) (stating a petitioner may not “transform a state-law issue into a federal one merely by asserting a violation of due process”). Thus, petitioner's claim is not cognizable on federal habeas ...


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