A federal prisoner’s sentence must be reconsidered, again, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled, this time giving weight to a state court’s order for concurrent sentences.
This is the second time the 4th Circuit has heard the appeal of Anthony Mangum as he seeks to have time served in Oklahoma state prison count toward his 22-year federal sentence. But Chief Judge Roger Gregory, writing for a unanimous panel, said the Federal Bureau of Prisons “disregarded” the court’s orders in denying his request on the previous remand.
In 2006 Mangum was indicted in North Carolina on federal drug charges for which he was eventually sentenced. Before his conviction, he was arrested and charged in Oklahoma for assault and other crimes. But when he was sentenced for the federal charge, the federal district court didn’t specify whether his sentence would be served concurrently or consecutively with any future sentences.
Mangum was sentenced to 10 years in Oklahoma state prison, to be served concurrently with his federal sentence. But when Mangum was released early from state prison, the BOP declined to count the five years served toward his federal sentence. They said a lack of response from the federal court for advice meant consecutive terms were appropriate.
In 2013, Mangum filed a complaint in North Carolina’s Eastern District, seeking credit for the time he spent in state prison, which was denied. He appealed to the 4th Circuit and the district court’s decision was vacated, citing the federal precedent on future sentences at the time of sentencing.
The court sent the case back to the district court with instructions to enforce their orders, and consider the state court’s sentencing order. But in July 2016, the BOP again found consecutive sentences were proper, leading Mangum to file a motion to compel the 4th Circuit’s orders, which the district court denied, and a resulting second 4th Circuit appeal was filed.
Gregory said in the court’s Dec. 12 opinion that the matter in question is the scope of the 4th Circuit’s previous mandate and whether the district court “faithfully executed” it. Mangum argues that the district court erred in not compelling the BOP to consider all relevant factors, and Gregory agreed.
When the 4th Circuit reversed the district court’s original opinion, Gregory said, they did so because it overlooked a flaw in the BOP’s exercise of its broad discretion. The BOP erred in requesting the opinion of the federal sentencing court when “a federal district judge in this circuit was powerless to impose a federal sentence to be served consecutively to a state sentence that had not yet been imposed” when Mangum was sentenced.
Gregory said the original opinion made clear that the views of the sentencing court were irrelevant, and he pointed toward language which he said directed the BOP to consider the state courts’ intentions. However, Gregory said these instructions were not followed.
“The BOP disregarded these instructions on remand,” Gregory said. “The BOP again asked the federal sentencing court whether it would have ordered that Mangum serve his federal sentence concurrently with or consecutive to his state sentence. The BOP’s letter clearly indicates that its nunc pro tunc determination would ultimately turn on the federal sentencing court’s response.”
Gregory said that because Mangum had not been convicted of the Oklahoma offenses at the time of his federal sentencing, his actions in Oklahoma could not have increased his federal sentence. Furthermore, Gregory objected to the BOP’s characterization of the 4th Circuit’s orders as dicta and its failure to explain this characterization or to consider the state court’s opinion on Mangum’s sentence. The Eastern District federal court also received some criticism from Gregory for having “overlooked the flaws in the BOP’s analysis.”
While the BOP is not bound by the state court’s sentencing, Gregory said the state court’s opinion “is entitled to more weight than the BOP gave it, especially because the BOP’s Factors Worksheet on its face provides little indication of what factors would justify overriding the state court’s preference.”
As a result, Gregory said the BOP failed to comply with the 4th Circuit’s previous mandate in evaluating Mangum’s request to have his sentence reconsidered. Therefore, the district court must enter an order directing the BOP to again look at Mangum’s request for a sentencing reconsideration, taking into account the state court’s opinion and excluding the federal sentencing court’s opinion.
Amanda Lineberry and Kendall Burchard, students at the Appellate Litigation Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law under the tutelage of Professor Stephen Braga, represented Mangum.
“The team was so committed to securing a just outcome for Mr. Mangum, and Amanda did a phenomenal job of stressing his humanity,” Burchard said. “We are so pleased that his case will now receive the consideration it deserves.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina declined to comment.
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