United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER
SOLOMON OLIVER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Petitioner Angel Martinez, an inmate at FCI Elkton, filed the
above-captioned Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He challenges a prison disciplinary
hearing, claiming he received ineffective assistance of a
staff member and was denied due process. He seeks expungement
of his disciplinary conviction. In addition, Petitioner filed
a Motion to Amend Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus on
June 14, 2019, to add a request for reinstatement of his good
time credits (Doc. No. 3). The Motion to Amend is granted,
and the Court will consider his proposed amendment along with
this original Petition.
September 2, 2016, staff members at FCI Manchester in
Manchester, Kentucky discovered a Verizon Samsung cellular
telephone in a fire extinguisher cabinet in Petitioner's
housing unit. The phone was locked with a passcode, so it was
sent to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) to
be decrypted and screened. The BOP screening determined the
phone had been used to send and receive 29 calls and 56 text
messages. Several of those calls were placed to a particular
No. that was linked to Petitioner through Tru-view. A female
using that No. had sent $200 to Petitioner's trust
account. The phone No. was not listed on any other
inmate's visiting, email, or phone lists, or associated
with any money transactions to other inmates' accounts.
Petitioner identifies that female as his wife's sister
and acknowledges that the phone No. is her number.
was charged with a conduct violation of possession of a
hazardous tool (cell phone) on September 25, 2016. The
initial report listed the date of the incident as September
2, 2016. That report was revised and the new report indicated
the phone was found on September 22, 2016. He received a copy
of the conduct report on September 25, 2016. On October 5,
2016, the Disciplinary Hearing Officer found Petitioner had
committed the prohibited act.
appealed this decision. At some point during the appeals
process, he was transferred to FCI Gilmer. The BOP Regional
Director reversed the decision, indicating the different
dates of the incidents listed on the conduct reports created
a notice issue. The Regional Director instructed the FCI
Gilmer Warden to rewrite the conduct report and recommence
the disciplinary process once the new report was issued to
Petitioner. Petitioner was transferred to FCI Elkton, and
staff at that institution rewrote and issued the new conduct
report with input from FCI Manchester staff.
received a new disciplinary hearing at FCI Elkton on April 3,
2017. He received advanced notice of the charges on January
11, 2017, and was advised of his rights at the hearing on
January 12, 2017. Petitioner requested the assistance of a
staff member and Chief Chaplain G. Johnson appeared with him.
All of the inmate witnesses were housed at other BOP
institutions; however, FCI Elkton staff contacted the unit
managers at those institutions to interview those inmates.
Petitioner told the Disciplinary Hearing Officer at FCI
Elkton that FCI Manchester staff falsely accused him of the
offense in retaliation for grievances he filed against them.
The Disciplinary Hearing Officer considered the original
forensic report prepared by the BOP detailing the data on the
cell phone, Petitioner's Tru-View records showing the
same phone No. linked to a monetary transaction on his trust
account, and wrote an extensive report finding Petitioner had
committed the offense. He sanctioned Petitioner to 30 days of
disciplinary segregation, which Petitioner had already served
at FCI Manchester, loss of commissary privileges for 180
days, loss of telephone privileges for 180 days and loss of
visitation privileges for 90 days. All loss of privileges
sanctions were deemed to have begun in October 2016. In
addition, 41 days of good time credits were disallowed. The
BOP upheld these findings and sanctions on appeal.
has now filed this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under
28 U.S.C. § 2241 contesting this disciplinary hearing.
Specifically, he claims he was denied the effective
assistance of a staff representative because Johnson did not
file proper paperwork, leaving the door open for staff
members to retaliate against him, and did not investigate all
the telephone company records of all of the telephone No.
found in the cell phone's history. Finally, he claims he
was denied due process because FCI Manchester and FCI Elkton
staff were permitted to amend the conduct report after it was
originally issued to him. He asks this Court to rescind the
conduct report, lower his security classification and restore
his good time credits.
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 Section 2241(c)). Because Petitioner 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). However, 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 (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
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, Massachusetts Correctional Institution
at Wolpole v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (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 factfinders as to
the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary
action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-66
prisoners do not have a due process right of confrontation
and cross-examination, or a right to counsel, in such
disciplinary proceedings. Id. at 569-70.
process requires only that disciplinary findings resulting in
the loss of good time credits be supported by “some
evidence” in the record. Superintendent, Massachusetts
Correctional Institution 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. The Disciplinary
Hearing Officer is not required to base findings on
overwhelming or irrefutable proof of guilt. Even where the
evidence is contradictory or partially ...