United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JEREMIAH S. BERG, PETITIONER,
MARK K. WILLIAMS, RESPONDENT.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HONORABLE SARA LIOI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
se petitioner Jeremiah S. Berg (“Berg”)
filed the above-captioned petition for a writ of habeas
corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Berg is currently
incarcerated in the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution
(“FCI Elkton”). He challenges the result of a
prison disciplinary hearing that resulted in the loss of good
time credit. He seeks expungement of the disciplinary
conviction and restoration of good time credit.
February 7, 2018 at 6:45 a.m., staff at the federal
correctional institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey (“FCI
Fort Dix”) conducted a shake down search of Berg's
cell. When staff entered the cell, they found Berg standing
in front of his open locker moving things around. Officers
asked him to step away from the locker and submit to a pat
down search. Berg complied, and officers found nothing on
him. Berg then departed the room while the search continued.
At the bottom of Berg's locker, officers discovered
several pieces of mail labeled as legal mail. Inside one of
the envelopes was a black cell phone hidden between cut
pieces of paper. Berg was charged with the conduct offense of
possession of a hazardous tool. He was found guilty at a
disciplinary hearing and received several sanctions,
including loss of 40 days of good time credit.
filed this action to challenge the finding of guilt issued by
the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”). Berg
contends that when property is found in an unsecured area and
is equally accessible to many inmates, it is not attributable
to any one inmate. He suggests that his locker qualifies as
an unsecured common area because it was unlocked just prior
to the search and the entire compound was open from 6:00 a.m.
until 7:30 a.m. He also called another inmate as a witness to
testify that his locker was often left unlocked. He indicates
he made this argument during his disciplinary hearing, but it
was rejected. He claims this resulted in a denial of due
Standard of Review
of habeas corpus “may be granted by the Supreme Court,
any justice thereof, the district courts and any circuit
judge within their respective jurisdictions.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241(a). Section 2241 “is an affirmative grant
of power to federal courts to issue writs of habeas corpus to
prisoners being held ‘in violation of the Constitution
or laws or treaties of the United States.'”
Rice v. White, 660 F.3d 242, 249 (6th Cir. 2011)
(quoting § 2241(c)). Because Berg is appearing pro
se, the allegations in his petition must be construed in
his favor, and his pleadings are held to a less stringent
standard than those prepared by counsel. Urbina v.
Thoms, 270 F.3d 292, 295 (6th Cir. 2001). This Court may
dismiss the petition at any time, or make any such
disposition as law and justice require, if it determines the
petition fails to establish adequate grounds for relief.
Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 775, 107 S.Ct.
2113, 95 L.Ed.2d 724 (1987); see also Allen v.
Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (holding
district courts have a duty to “screen out”
petitions lacking merit on their face under Section 2243).
Court's ability to review prison disciplinary proceedings
is limited. District courts have no authority to review a
disciplinary committee's resolution of factual disputes,
or to make a redetermination of an inmate's innocence or
guilt. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Instit. at Wolpole v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455, 105 S.Ct. 2768, 86 L.Ed.2d 356
(1985). The only question for the Court to determine is
whether the hearing complied with the basic requirements
needed to satisfy due process. The standard is not a
difficult one to meet. To comply with the requirements of the
Due Process Clause, prison officials need only provide a
prisoner facing loss of good time credits with: (1) a written
notice of the charges at least 24 hours prior to any hearing,
(2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary
evidence in his defense when permitting him to do so will not
be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional
goals, and (3) a written statement by the fact-finders as to
the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary
action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-66, 94
S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1972). In prison disciplinary
proceedings, prisoners do not have a due process right of
confrontation and cross-examination, or a right to counsel.
Id. at 569-70.
due process requires only that disciplinary findings
resulting in the loss of good time credits be supported by
“some evidence” in the record.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Instit. at Wolpole, 472
U.S. at 454-56. This standard is satisfied where “there
is any evidence in the record that could support the
conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.”
Id. at 455-56. The DHO is not required to base
findings on overwhelming or irrefutable proof of guilt. Even
where the evidence is contradictory or partially exculpatory,
a DHO may base a finding of guilt on only “some
evidence” that indicates the prisoner is guilty.
Id. . at 457.
case, although Berg attempts to characterize his claim as a
denial of due process, he simply attacks the result of the
disciplinary hearing. He does not complain about the hearing
process, nor does he suggest he did not have sufficient
notice of the charges. He attaches the DHO's report
indicating he received notice of the charges on the day the
cellphone was discovered, February 7, 2018. He was advised of
his rights before the Disciplinary Hearing Officer on
February 12, 2018. The hearing was conducted on March 27,
2018. He called a witness to support his claim that he kept
his locker unlocked. Moreover, there is some evidence to
support the finding of guilt. The cellphone was found in his
locker in an envelope with his name on it. While Berg
disputes the DHO's resolution of factual issues and his
finding of guilt, he has not sufficiently demonstrated he was
denied due process.
the foregoing reasons, this action is dismissed pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2243. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3), an appeal from this decision could not be taken
in good faith.