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Hall v. Terris

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

March 29, 2018

Eddie Ray Hall, Petitioner,
v.
J.A. Terris, Respondent.

          Mag. Mona K. Majzoub, Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING THE PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS [1], DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY, AND DENYING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS ON APPEAL

          JUDITH E. LEVY, United States District Judge.

         Petitioner Eddie Hall, a prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Milan, Michigan, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on March 13, 2017. (Dkt. 1.) Petitioner challenges the Discipline Hearing Officer's (“DHO”) finding that he violated Code 113 by possessing alcohol on “camp grounds” while incarcerated at FCI Engelwood, Colorado. (Dkt. 1 at 5.) This violation resulted in sanctions, including the loss of 41 days good conduct time. Petitioner seeks to have the finding reversed, and the good conduct time restored. (Dkt. 1 at 6.)

         For the reasons set forth below, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was convicted in federal court of distributing 50 or more grams of a mixture or substance containing 5 or more grams of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). (Dkt. 5 at 1.) On April 21, 2011, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington sentenced him to 195 months of imprisonment and five years of supervised release.

         The incident at issue took place while Petitioner was serving that sentence at FCI Englewood, Colorado. (Dkt. 5 at 5.) On August 21, 2015, Darren Jackson, a technician in the Special Investigative Services Department at FCI Englewood, filed an incident report, stating that he had observed an inmate returning from off bureau property and carrying a plastic bag. (Dkt. 5-3 at 1.) Officer Jackson began to follow the inmate, and radioed another officer, who stopped the inmate at the northeast end of the housing unit and identified him as Petitioner Hall. (Dkt. 5-4 at 2.) Petitioner was detained, and the officers searched the area for the bag, which was found to contain three bottles of vodka, two cans of chewing tobacco, one pack of cigarettes, and one can of cigarette tobacco. (Id.) There was also a water bottle that was found to contain alcohol. (Id.)

         Petitioner was charged with introduction of alcohol to the prison camp, possession of alcohol, and escape from a non-secure confinement with subsequent voluntary return within four hours. (Id.) Petitioner was informed of these charges and advised of his rights. (Id. at 2.) On August 26, 2015, a hearing was held before the Unit Discipline Committee (“UDC”). (Id. at 1.) At that hearing, Petitioner requested video surveillance footage of the camp, which he believed would prove his innocence. (Id.) The UDC referred the incident to the Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”) due to the severity of the charged offense. (Id.)

         The DHO held a hearing on September 23, 2015. (Dkt. 5-7 at 1.) The DHO reviewed photographs of the contraband described in the incident report, as well as the statements of several staff members who were involved in the incident. (Dkt. 5-7 at 2-3.) Petitioner submitted his own written statement, and requested three inmate witnesses, who provided written statements, which stated that Petitioner was not in the area when the incident took place and he “got caught in the middle of someone else's doings.” (Dkt. 5-7 at 1.) Petitioner did not submit any other documentary evidence and waived staff representation. (Dkt. 5-7 at 2.) The DHO noted that the video surveillance of FCI Englewood from that day “did not show the deck area so the video was of no use either to prove or disprove [Petitioner's] location at the time of the incident.” (Dkt. 5-7 at 3.)

         The DHO dismissed the escape charge and the introduction of alcohol charge because, based on the evidence, the DHO was “not confident” Petitioner had introduced the alcohol from outside the camp grounds. (Dkt. 5-7 at 3.) But the DHO found that “based on the greater weight of the evidence, ” Petitioner violated Code 113 by possessing alcohol on camp grounds. (Id.)

         Petitioner has since been transferred to FCI Milan, Michigan, and now seeks a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, alleging the DHO finding was erroneous because the DHO did not have sufficient evidence to support a finding he violated Code 113. He further alleges DHO violated his due process rights by failing to produce video evidence requested at the initial hearing. (Dkt. 1 at 6.)

         II. Legal Standard

         28 U.S.C. § 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). The loss of good-time credits entitles a prisoner to seek habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973). But before habeas relief can be granted, prisoners must exhaust their administrative remedies: “§ 2254's exhaustion requirement applies to § 2241 petitions challenging the execution of a sentence, even though that statute does not mandate exhaustion by its own terms.” Fazzini v. Ne. Ohio Corr. Ctr., 473 F.3d 229, 236 (6th Cir. 2006).

         Because revocation of good time credits is “not comparable” to a criminal conviction, the amount of evidence required to support such a revocation need not meet the same standard. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 456 (1985). Instead, the decision to ...


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