US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
In re: U.S. Bureau of Prisons
Opinion Date: March 14, 2019
Judge: Stephen Andrew Higginson
Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Government & Administrative Law
The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's contempt finding and injunction related to the BOP's calculation of sentencing credits for federal prisoners. The court held that the district court made no explicit factual findings to support its decision to hold the BOP in contempt, nor did it identify which specific court orders the BOP violated. The district court abused its discretion, and the court could not identify any evidence in the record to support the conclusion that the BOP violated a definite and specific court order. Even if there was no error in holding the BOP in content, the court held that the sanction the district court imposed was contrary to law. The court held that, given the district court’s lack of authority over credit awards, it was improper to order the BOP to deny custody credits required by statute. Furthermore, the district court’s error was compounded by its threat to hold BOP officials in individual contempt for fulfilling their statutory duties.
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