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Hampton v. Williams

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

December 31, 2019

WILLIAM DOUGLAS HAMPTON, Petitioner
v.
WARDEN MARK K. WILLIAMS, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SOLOMON OLIVER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se Petitioner William Douglas Hampton, presently incarcerated at FCI Elkton, brings this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner asks the court to grant him his constitutional right to a jury trial to defend himself against a charge of “fighting with another person” while incarcerated. (ECF No. 1).

         For the reasons that follow, the Petition is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On November 23, 2018, Petitioner states that he was attacked by another inmate, Kenneth Bulholtz, in the typewriter section of the law library while incarcerated at FCI Seagoville. (ECF No. 1-2). When returning to his housing unit, Petitioner was stopped by a correctional officer who noticed that he had facial injuries, and he was taken to the medical department for evaluation and then to the special housing unit (“SHU”). (ECF No. 1 at 1-2). Petitioner received a “201” incident report for fighting with another person and, on December 6, 2018, a disciplinary hearing was conducted before the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”).

         Petitioner was found guilty of the charge and sanctioned: (1) seven days of disciplinary segregation, (2) twenty-seven Good Contact Days lost, and (3) sixty days of loss of commissary. (Id. at 2). Petitioner states that the above-described process is consistent with the Code of Federal Regulations and Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) policy “if guilt is valid.” Petitioner claims that he was then sanctioned a second time when his case manager, Ms. Goen, increased his Custody Level Score and he was transferred to FCI Elkton. Petitioner claims that the staff at FCI Seagoville discriminated against him and showed favoritism to Bulholtz because Petitioner was transferred but Bulholtz was not. Petitioner states that he has exhausted his administrative remedies and now seeks habeas relief. (Id.).

         Following the DHO hearing, Petitioner states he did not receive the DHO report until February 20, 2019. (Id. at 3). According to the Petition, he filed his appeal on March 11, 2019, but it was denied as untimely. (Id. at 5-6). Petitioner states the in denying his appeal as untimely, the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) violated the prison mailbox rule because he deposited his appeal in the prison mailbox within the 20-day period for filing an appeal.

         Petitioner claims that he was denied due process on multiple grounds, [1] including the BOP's denial of his appeal as untimely, the DHO's false statements about what constitutes a “fight, ” the FCI Seagoville staff treated him less favorably than the other inmate involved in the fight, and the FCI Seagoville staff's role generally in contributing to inmate fights.[2] For relief, Petitioner seeks to present his appeal of the DHO ruling in this court in the form of a jury trial where he will show that he is innocent, and upon such a finding, seeks dismissal of the incident report, return of his good conduct days, and reduction of his custody level score. (Id. at 7-10).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Writs 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 28 U.S.C. § 2243).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. The Mailbox Rule

         Petitioner's first claim is that his administrative appeal was rejected as untimely in violation of the prison mailbox rule because he placed his appeal in the prison mail within the 20-day period for filing an appeal. The time for filing an appeal/administrative remedy is governed by 28 C.F.R. § 542.18, which provides that in the BOP's administrative remedy program, an appeal is considered “filed” on the date it is received. 28 C.F.R. § 542.18 (“If accepted, a Request or Appeal is considered filed on the date it is logged into the Administrative Remedy Index as received.”). Some courts within and outside this circuit have concluded that the mailbox rule does not apply to BOP administrative remedy/appeal process because of the language of the regulation, BOP policy, and caselaw. See Goddard v. Alexakos, No. CV 5:16-215-KKC, 2018 WL 1168611, at *7 (E.D. Ky. Mar. 6, 2018) (28 C.F.R. § 542.18 “clearly provides” that an appeal is considered “filed” on the date it is received and, “[i]n the absence of clear, binding authority directing that the prison mail box applies in the administrative remedy/appeal process, the Court is reluctant to apply the rule in this case. This finding is also consistent with ... the BOP's internal regulations[.]”) (citations omitted) (distinguishing Cordoba v. Shartle, 2010 WL 2572854 (N. D. Ohio 2010) and Vasquez v. Shartle, 2011 WL 1004934 (N.D. Ohio 2011) (mailbox rule does apply to administrative appeal) on the grounds that neither addressed the significance of 28 C.F.R. § 542.18's definition of the term “filed”); see also Tucker v. Jones, No. ...


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