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Woodson v. Guyer

Supreme Court of Montana

May 8, 2019

BENJAMIN A. WOODSON, Petitioner,
v.
LYNN GUYER, Respondent.

          ORDER

         Representing himself, Benjamin A. Woodson has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, indicating that he is due more credit for time served and that the Department of Corrections (DOC) should recalculate his sentences. The Attorney General's Office for the State of Montana has filed a response and explains that Woodson is entitled to more credit.

         In its response, the State puts forth more detail concerning Woodson's history. On June 7, 2017, Woodson was arrested for felony assault with a weapon in Park County, Montana, and later detained at the Park County Detention Center (PCDC). Woodson was released on his own recognizance after his initial appearance on July 10, 2017, in the Sixth Judicial District Court, Park County. Woodson then appeared for a change of plea hearing on January 16, 2018, and he pleaded guilty to the amended offense of felony criminal endangerment. Woodson did not cooperate with the preparation of his presentence investigation report. The District Court issued a bench warrant in March, which was served on Woodson in May. On June 4, 2018, Woodson appeared and was released again. A week later, on June 11, 2018, the District Court imposed a four-year suspended sentence to the Montana Department of Corrections (Park County case).[1] The court awarded Woodson forty-four days of credit for time served without designating the corresponding dates.

         Woodson was arrested eleven days later, on June 22, 2018, and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Broadwater County. Woodson was detained at the Broadwater County Detention Center (BCDC) until his initial hearing on July 13, 2018. The First Judicial District Court, Broadwater County, released Woodson on his own recognizance on that day. Even though a report of violation was filed in Woodson's Park County case on June 25, 2018, a petition to revoke and subsequent warrant were not filed until July 18, 2018.

         On July 23, 2018, Woodson appeared in the Park County District Court for a bond hearing, and then he appeared on August 7, 2018, for his revocation hearing in his Park County case. The Park County District Court revoked Woodson's suspended sentence after accepting his admissions of violating probationary conditions. The District Court sentenced him to the Montana State Prison for a four-year term (Park County sentence upon revocation). The court did not award any credit for time served.

         On August 9, 2018, Woodson was transported from PCDC to BCDC for his DUI offense in Broadwater County District Court. Woodson pleaded guilty to felony DUI eight days later. On September 21, 2018, the Broadwater County District Court sentenced him to the DOC for thirteen months, followed by a three-year suspended sentence, and the court ran the sentence concurrently with his Park County sentence upon revocation. The court awarded credit of sixty-six days without designating the dates.

         Woodson contends that he is due an additional ninety-five days of credit in his Park County case. He has included correspondence from PCDC and BCDC with the dates of his arrests and confinement. Woodson's exhibits, while sparse, reflect more time detained in each County's jail.

         The State responds that Woodson is entitled to more credit for time served in his Park County case and for his Park County sentence upon revocation. The State acknowledges that this Court will entertain habeas corpus petitions that challenge the proper amount of credit for time served. See Sebastian v. Mahoney, 2001 MT 88, ¶ 8, 305 Mont. 158, 25 P.3d 163 ("It is beyond cavil that a person restrained by the terms of a suspended sentence beyond its lawful completion date is being unlawfully restrained of his or her liberty."). Citing to § 46-18-403(1), MCA, the State provides when and where Woodson was detained during 2017 and 2018.

         Starting with BCDC's records, the State calculates that Woodson was detained for twenty-two days from June 22, 2018, the date of the offense, until July 13, 2018, the date of his release. The State provides that Woodson also accrued forty-four days at BCDC from August 9, 2018 until sentencing on September 21, 2018. Therefore, the State points out that the Broadwater County District Court correctly gave Woodson sixty-six (22 44) days of credit for time served.

         Turning to Woodson's Park County case, the State calculates that Woodson is entitled to fifty-four, not forty-four, days as awarded by the Park County District Court. The State highlights that Woodson was in PCDC from June 7, 2017 to July 10, 2017, or thirty-four days and May 16, 2018 to June 4, 2018, or twenty days. The State also addresses Woodson's detention for his Park County sentence upon revocation. The State submits that a bench warrant for Woodson was issued on July 18, 2018, after the filing of the petition to revoke in his Park County case. According to PCDC's records, the State notes that Woodson was detained at PCDC from July 17, 2018 through August 9, 2018, the date of the Park County sentence upon revocation. The State concludes that Woodson is entitled to twenty-four days of credit during his pending revocation.

         Lastly, the State explains that when Woodson was not detained in either PCDC or BCDC, he would not receive any credit because he has not requested credit for street time. The State also points out that any credit for pre-sentencing detention in one facility cannot be applied to another case for an offense that is not directly related. State v. Graves, 2015 MT 262, ¶ 32, 381 Mont. 37, 355 P.3d 769. The State adds here that when Woodson was detained and received the corresponding credit, that credit may not cross over to another pending matter. The State highlights that Woodson has four days of unaccounted time when he was released on July 13, 2018, on his own recognizance from the Broadwater County District Court until July 17, 2018, when he was again detained at PCDC after self-reporting.

         The State concludes that while Woodson is not entitled to release, he is entitled to this additional credit for time served in his Park County case and for his Park County sentence upon revocation. The State requests that this matter be remanded to the Sixth Judicial District Court, Park County, to enter an: (1) Amended Judgment and Order Imposing Sentence and Determining Conditions in Cause No. DC 17-65, granting Woodson fifty-four (54) days of credit from June 7, 2017 to July 10, 2017 and May 16, 2018 to June 4, 2018, and (2) Amended Dispositional Order and Judgment in Cause No. DC 17-65, granting Woodson twenty-four (24) days of credit from July 17, 2018 to August 9, 2018.

         We agree with the State. When a portion of a sentence is illegal, it is better to remand the matter to the District Court for correction and modification. Section 46-22-101(1), MCA; State v. Heafner, 2010 MT 87, ¶ 11, 356 Mont. 128, 231 P.3d 1087. Remand is appropriate here to amend Woodson's corresponding final judgments with the correct credit for time served in his Park County case and his Park County sentence upon revocation. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Woodson's Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is GRANTED in part, and this matter is REMANDED to the Sixth Judicial District Court, Park County, under Cause No. DC 17-65, to amend Woodson's credit for time served as stated above.

         The Clerk of the Supreme Court is directed to provide a copy of this Order to the Honorable Brenda R. Gilbert, Sixth Judicial District Court, Park County; to June Little, Clerk of District Court, Park County, under Cause No. DC ...


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