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Trammell v. Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

February 12, 2017

DEMETRUIS DION TRAMMELL, # 221779, Petitioner,
v.
ALABAMA BOARD OF PARDONS AND PAROLES, et al., Respondents.

          RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          SUSAN RUSS WALKER CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Demetruis Dion Trammell (“Trammell”), an Alabama inmate proceeding pro se, filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 alleging that the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (“Board”) acted unconstitutionally and in violation of the applicable statutory provisions in setting his initial parole consideration date. Doc. No. 1. After reviewing the pleadings, evidentiary materials, and relevant law, the court concludes that no evidentiary hearing is required and that Trammell's petition should be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In November 2001, Trammell pled guilty in the Chambers County Circuit Court to the offense of murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Trammell committed the offense in November 2000.

         On March 21, 2001 (a date falling between Trammell's commission of his offense and his conviction), the Board amended its Rules, Regulations, and Procedures, adopting Article One, § 7, which states:

When an inmate is convicted of one or more of the Class A felonies Rape I, Robbery I with serious physical injury, Kidnapping I, Murder, Burglary I with serious physical injury, Attempted Murder, Sodomy I, Arson I with serious physical injury, or Sexual Torture (who are eligible for parole), the initial parole consideration date shall be set in conjunction with the inmate's completion of 85 (eighty-five) percent of his or her total sentence or 15 (fifteen) years, whichever is less, unless the designee finds mitigating circumstances such as the imminent death of the inmate due to medical problems, or a petition by the sentencing judge or prosecuting attorney. Serious physical injury in this paragraph is as defined in title 13A of the Alabama Code.

         Rules, Regulations, and Procedures of the Board of Pardons and Paroles (2001), Article One, § 7.

         After Trammell began serving his sentence, the Board, applying the “85% or 15-year Rule” adopted in Article One, § 7, set Trammell's initial parole consideration date for November 2016 - i.e., 15 years into his 20-year sentence.

         In May 2014, over 13 years into his service of his sentence, Trammell filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Alabama, contending that the Board's use of the 85% or 15-year Rule in setting his initial parole consideration date violated his equal protection rights.[1] Doc. No. 11-3. Trammell argued that his initial parole consideration date should have been determined by the law in effect when he committed the offense in November 2000. He specifically argued that the controlling law for making that determination was set forth in § 15-22-28(e), Ala. Code 1975, which he insisted entitled him to an initial parole consideration upon his serving one-third of his sentence - in his case, approximately 6 years and 8 months.[2] Id. Section 15-22-28(e) provides that “[t]he board shall not grant a parole to any prisoner who has not served at least one third or 10 years of his sentence, whichever is the lesser, except by a unanimous affirmative vote of the board.”

         After Trammell filed his petition for certiorari in the state circuit court, the Board reviewed his case and reset his initial parole consideration for an earlier date - that is, October 2014, instead of the originally scheduled November 2016. On August 1, 2014, the state circuit court entered an order denying Trammell's petition for certiorari as moot. Doc. No. 11-5. Trammell did not appeal from the state circuit court's judgment.

         In October 2014, the Board undertook Trammell's initial parole consideration. The Board denied parole and set Trammell's next parole consideration for October 2017. Doc. No. 11-6. Trammell filed no petition for certiorari in the state circuit court challenging the Board's decision, either on the denial of parole or on the date for his next parole consideration.

         Trammell initiated the instant habeas action on January 7, 2015. In his § 2254 petition, Trammell claims that because his crime occurred in November 2000, prior to the Board's adoption of the 85% or 15-year Rule, he should have received an initial parole consideration around July 2008, after he served one-third of his 20-year sentence, as provided by § 15-22-28(e), Ala. Code 1975. Doc. No. 1 at 5 & 14. He further appears to argue that he should receive a credit of approximately six years against his sentence, based on the difference between the date he says he was entitled to an initial parole consideration and the date he actually received his initial parole consideration.[3] Id. at 14 & 16.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Exhaustion and ...


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