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Goins v. Terris

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 8, 2017

TIM GOINS, Petitioner,
v.
J.A. TERRIS, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          Sean F. Cox U.S. District Judge

         Tim Goins, (“Petitioner”), presently confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner challenges a prison disciplinary hearing conducted by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) which resulted in the loss of 41 days of good-time credits and 60 days of phone and commissary privileges. The sanctions stemmed from Petitioner's failure to provide a urine sample. The petition raises four claims: 1) Petitioner's equal protection rights were violated by the failure of the BOP to make special accommodations to collect his urine sample; 2) the BOP inconsistently applies policies regarding urine sample collection; 3) Petitioner's statements during disciplinary proceedings were entitled to a liberal construction; and 4) the BOP failed to follow its own procedures.

         For the reasons stated below, the petition will be DENIED.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was sentenced on August 9, 2011, by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan to a 144 month term of imprisonment and 15 years of supervised release for his conviction of receipt of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A (A)(2).

         On May 9, 2015, a BOP staff member filed an incident report charging Petitioner with refusing to provide a urine sample. Dkt. 5, Ex. 2. The report indicates that on that date Petitioner was called for a random urinalysis test. Petitioner was instructed on the procedure and given eight ounces of water. Two hours after he drank the water, and after being given multiple opportunities to do so, Petitioner failed to provide a urine sample. Petitioner was subsequently interviewed by the lieutenant responsible for investigating the incident, and Petitioner stated that he “cannot pee in front of anybody.” Id. Petitioner was provided with a copy of the incident report the following day.

         The report was referred to the Unit Discipline Committee. An initial hearing was held on May 13, 2015. After being advised of his rights, Petitioner told the committee that he “didn't refuse, ” but he “just couldn't go.” Id. The committee referred the incident to a Discipline Hearing Officer for further proceedings.

         Petitioner was provided with written notice of the second hearing before a discipline hearing officer. Dkt. 5, Ex. 3-4. The hearing was held on May 28, 2015. Dkt. 5, Ex. 5. The hearing officer reviewed Petitioner's due process rights with him. Petitioner told the hearing officer, “I tried. I wanted to go, I just couldn't. Throughout my whole life going to games and public restrooms and urinals I just can't go and end up going back to my seat still having to go.” Id., at Sec. III.

         The hearing officer made the following findings:

After careful consideration, the DHO found you committed the prohibited act of Code 110, Refusing to Provide a Urine Sample, based on the greater weight of the evidence as presented above. Specifically, section 11 of the incident report where staff documented you were instructed to provide a urine sample and given eight ounces of water. You were asked multiple times if you had to use the bathroom, you could not complete the urinalysis. The DHO considered your denial and your claim that you cannot pee in front of another person; however, you were instructed to produce a urine sample and did not provide a urine sample. You provided no evidence to support your claim that you cannot go pee in front of another person. Therefore, greater weight was given to the reporting officer's written reports. There is some evidence to support that you refused to provide a urine sample, based upon the reporting officers documented report and the greater weight of the evidence; all shows you committed the prohibited act.

Id., at Sec. V.

         Petitioner was sanctioned with the loss of 41 days of good-conduct time and 60 days of phone and commissary privileges. Id., at Sec. VI. Those sanctions fall within the guidelines established by BOP policy. See 28 C.F.R. § 541.3. The Discipline Hearing Officer's report was delivered to Petitioner on June 11, 2015. Id. at Sec. IX.

         Petitioner appealed the disciplinary action to the North Central Regional Office. Dkt. 5, Ex. 6. Petitioner claimed that prison staff violated Program Statement 6060.08, Urine Surveillance and Narcotic Identification, and 28 C.F.R. § 550.31 by failing to offer him an alternative method to provide the urine sample after he indicated he could not provide a urine sample in front of another person. Petitioner's appeal was denied by the regional director for administrative appeals on the following basis:

Not providing a urine sample in the allotted two hour time frame is considered a refusal. At no time during the disciplinary process did you state you may have a psychological issue that would preclude you from providing a urine sample. If this reason was your defense, it should have been provided to the DHO during the hearing. However, this issue was not raised at the time of your DHO hearing ...

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