United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
CHARLES A. RIPPY BEY, Petitioner,
ERIK A HOOKS, Secretary, N.C. Department of Public Safety, Respondent.
W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a state inmate, petitions this court for a writ of habeas
corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. This matter is
before the court on respondent's motion to stay, or in
the alternative, to dismiss (DE 40). The motion has been
fully briefed. In this posture, the issues raised are ripe
for adjudication. For the following reasons, the court grants
September 27, 1993, petitioner pleaded guilty to first degree
sex offense in the Catawba County Superior Court of North
Carolina, and was sentenced to life imprisonment with the
possibility of parole. (J. & Commitment Order (DE 16-3)).
Petitioner was seventeen at the time of his conviction and
sentence. (See id.) Petitioner became eligible for
parole on January 30, 2013, and he received annual parole
reviews beginning on December 31, 2012 (Jones Aff. (DE 16-2)
¶¶ 7-8). As of the date petitioner filed the
petition, the North Carolina Parole Commission (“Parole
Commission”) had denied petitioner parole on three
occasions: January 4, 2013, January 13, 2014, and January 7,
2015. (Id. ¶ 8). The January 4, 2013, letter
from the Parole Commission stated that parole was denied but
did not provide an explanation. (Jan. 4. 2013, Letter Denying
Parole (DE 16-4) at 2). The January 13, 2014 and January 7,
2015, letters provided the following justification for
Your release at this time would unduly depreciate the
seriousness of the crime or promote disrespect for the law.
Your continued correctional programming in the institution
will substantially enhance your capacity to lead a
law-abiding life if released at a later date. There is a
substantial risk that you would engage in further criminal
(Jan. 13, 2014, Letter Denying Parole; Jan. 7, 2015, Letter
Denying Parole (DE 16-4) at 3-4).
11, 2015, petitioner filed the instant “Petition for
Writ of Mandamus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 Habeas
Corpus.” (DE 1). The petition is exceedingly difficult
to follow, but petitioner appears to allege that his parole
proceedings did not comply with the Due Process Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Petitioner's primary argument in support of this claim is
that the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3551
et seq. & 28 U.S.C. §§ 991-998,
abolished parole for state prisoners, and thus he should have
been unconditionally released on the date he became eligible
for parole. Additionally, petitioner arguably challenges the
Parole Commission's procedures under the Eighth
Amendment, which requires that juvenile offenders sentenced
to life imprisonment receive “some realistic
opportunity to obtain release before the end of [the life]
term.” Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 82
(2010); see also Hayden v. Keller, 134
F.Supp.3d 1000, 1009-10 (E.D. N.C. 2015) (holding North
Carolina's parole system does not provide juvenile
offenders sentenced to life terms with a meaningful
opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity
September 14, 2015, the court conducted an initial review of
the petition and allowed the matter to proceed. In October
2015, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment,
which were both fully briefed.
8, 2016, the court stayed this proceeding pending resolution
of two appeals then pending in the United States Court of
Appeals: In re: Terrence Wright, No. 15-281 (4th
Cir. Sept. 2, 2015) (considering the issue of whether a state
prisoner challenging his sentence computation should brings a
habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241, or both) and Hayden v. Butler, No.
15-7676 (4th Cir. Oct. 22, 2015) (considering the
constitutionality of North Carolina's parole procedures
for juvenile offenders sentenced to life imprisonment with
parole). In that same order, the court denied the
parties' cross-motions for summary judgment without
Fourth Circuit decided the Wright appeal on June 21,
2016, and the Hayden appeal on August 1, 2016.
See In re Wright, 826 F.3d 774 (4th Cir. 2016);
Hayden v. Butler, 667 Fed.Appx. 416 (2016) (per
curiam). Thereafter, respondent filed a motion to continue
the stay, pending resolution of the Hayden
litigation in the district court. The court granted
respondent's motion on April 28, 2017, and directed
respondent to file a notice within 30 days of the district
court's resolution of Hayden. On November 17,
2017, respondent filed the requested notice. The district
court ruled in Hayden that North Carolina's
parole system did not provide juvenile offenders sentenced to
life terms a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based
on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation, in violation of
the Eighth Amendment. Hayden v. Keller, No.
5:10-CT-3123-BO (E.D. N.C. Nov. 2, 2017). The district court
thus granted the plaintiff's request for injunctive
relief and adopted the North Carolina Department of Public
Safety's (“NCDPS”) proposed remedial plan.
See Hayden v. Keller, No. 5:10-CT-3123-BO (E.D. N.C.
Nov. 2, 2017). Upon receiving notice of the Hayden
ruling, this court lifted the stay and directed the parties
to file further dispositive motions on or before February 5,
February 2, 2018, respondent filed the instant motion to
stay, or in the alternative, motion to dismiss without
prejudice. Respondent did not attach any exhibits or other
supporting documents to the motion, but relied on certain
state court records submitted with respondent's earlier
motion for summary judgment. Petitioner filed a response to
the motion, attaching state court records and other
miscellaneous documents as support.
first argues the court should stay these proceedings (again)
pending resolution of a second appeal in the Hayden
matter. The Fourth Circuit, however, recently granted the
Hayden defendants' motion to dismiss the second
appeal. Hayden v. Fowler, No. 17-7582 (4th Cir. Mar.
22, 2018). The dismissal of the second
Hayden appeal thus moots the ...