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United States v. Adams

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

August 8, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Timothy Adams' Motion for Compassionate Release pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A), (see Pet. for Compassionate Release (“Motion” or “Mot.”) [Doc. #438]), which the Government opposes, (see Gov't's Resp. to Def.'s Mot. for Compassionate Release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582 (“Gov't Resp.”) [Doc. #449]). For the reasons explained below, the Motion is denied.


         Adams is nearing the completion of a lengthy term of imprisonment for his 1995 conviction for felony drug offenses, after his life sentence was commuted to 360 months on August 3, 2016. (See J. (Aug. 25, 1995) [Doc. #93]; Executive Grant of Clemency (Aug. 3, 2016).) He believes his “deteriorating health and the prognosis confronting the state of [his] brain tumor” warrant compassionate release. (Mot. at 2.) In support of his Motion, Adams filed a May 2013 Radiology Report, notes from two office visits to a neurologist, Dr. Ariel F. Abud, in March 2017 and September 2018, his Medical Duty Status with the Bureau of Prisons completed in October 2018, and various records and certificates for coursework and programming completed in the Bureau of Prisons. (See [Doc. #438 at 7-23].) In response, the Government submitted a declaration by the Clinical Director at FCI Fort Dix, where Adams is presently an inmate, who has access to Adams' medical records and is familiar with his condition. (See Decl. of Nicoletta Turner-Foster, M.D. ¶¶ 1, 2 (June 24, 2019) [Doc. #449-2].)


         After suffering dizziness and hearing sensitivity, (Radiology Report), Adams underwent surgery in 2013 to remove a lesion[1] in his brain, only part of which was removed so as to avoid permanent neurological damage, (Office Note (Mar. 30, 2017)[2]). Fortunately for Adams, “[t]he tumor was diagnosed as a dermoid/epidermoid tumor, which is benign.” (Decl. of Turner-Foster ¶ 3.) “The tumor has never been diagnosed as cancerous, nor does [Adams] require an evaluation by Oncology.” (Id.)

         Adams visited Dr. Abud on March 30, 2017 primarily complaining of hyperacusia[3] and vertigo with occasional headache episodes, apparently exacerbated when he was not using earplugs. (Office Note (Mar. 30, 2017).) Adams also complained of blurry vision, earache, chronic sinus problems, frequent headaches, and lightheadedness. (Id.) Dr. Abud performed a complete neurological examination which revealed no nystagmus, no hearing difficulties, no weakness of the upper or lower extremities, symmetrical deep tendon reflexes, and unremarkable sensory results. (Id.) Ultimately, Dr. Abud recommended vertigo rehabilitation and use of earplugs. (Id.) And, while he did not have the disc from Adams' most recent MRI, based on the information provided to him, Dr. Abud believed there was no recurrence of the tumor. (Id.)

         After having had another MRI “that showed basically the same thing”, Adams returned to see Dr. Abud on September 25, 2018, with complaints of dizziness, hyperacusia, and vertigo, but no headaches. (Office Note (Sept. 25, 2018).) Again Dr. Abud reviewed Adams' systems and performed a complete neurological examination that was “unremarkable” after which Dr. Abud's only recommendation was to avoid keeping Adams “in an area where there is too much noise as hyperacusia gives him problems and makes his headaches worse.” (Id.) Accordingly, on October 1, 2018, the Bureau of Prisons completed a Medical Duty Status report on Adams noting that he was to be restricted from all sports, ladders, driving, and working around potentially dangerous machinery and that he was not to “work or live in areas where there is too much noise as hyperacusia gives him problems and make his headaches worse.” (Medical Duty Status.)

         Since his 2013 surgery, “Adams has undergone routine MRIs” which “reveal a stable, post-surgical mass . . . with no indication that he requires additional surgery or other intervention at this time.” (Decl. of Turner-Foster ¶ 4.)

         Adams argues that “the surgery helped to alleviate symptoms and has enabled [him] to function the past few years”; however, the “state of [his] health has now reached the point where [his] prognosis is dismal and [his] immediate symptoms [of hyperacusis, vertigo, and overwhelming pain in his head] are worsening at an alarming rate.” (Mot. at 2.) “The frequency of [his] need to lie down in a completely silent environment has rendered it impossible to properly function in custody.” (Id.) He “will always have persistent symptoms of vertigo and tinnitus caused by the brain tumor” and will never again play sports, swim, climb a ladder, drive, or work around potentially dangerous machinery[4]. (Id.) He believes that continued imprisonment “will deprive [him] of needed medical care”, while “there is no question that on supervised release [he] will have the opportunity to obtain essential medical care that is not available in prison.” (Id. at 3.) He will then “be able to find oncologists capable of performing supplemental surgery and chemotherapy”. (Id.)

         According to Bureau of Prison records, on December 27, 2018, Adams submitted a request for a Reduction in Sentence/Compassionate Release to the warden of FCI Fort Dix. (Decl. of Corrie Dobovich ¶ 3 (June 2, 2019) & Attach. A [Doc. #449-1].) Adams contends that he submitted an Inmate Request to Staff on February 7, 2019. (Mot. Attach. 1 (Letter from Adams to Clerk [Doc. #438-1]).) It was not until March 12, 2019 that the Warden denied Adams' request. (Decl. of Dobovich ¶ 3 & Attach. B.) After having received no relief from the Bureau of Prisons, Adams filed the instant motion.[5]


         In 2018, Congress passed the First Sept Act, Pub. L. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194, which, among other things, amended 18 U.S.C. § 3583(c)(1)(A) to permit a defendant, in addition to the Director of the Bureau Prisons, to move for a sentence reduction, provided that he has exhausted his administrative remedies or thirty days have passed without action since his request to the warden for a sentence reduction. If there are “extraordinary and compelling reasons”[6] warranting a reduction and “a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission”, a court may ...

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