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Yates v. Terris

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

April 30, 2019

J.A. TERRIS, Respondent.



         David Dwight Yates, (“petitioner”), currently on supervised release at 32628 Annapolis Rd., Wayne, Michigan, seeks the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.[1] In his pro se application, petitioner challenges the decision from a prison disciplinary hearing conducted by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) which resulted in the loss of good conduct time, non-vested good conduct time, loss of phone and loss of visiting privileges. For the reasons stated below, the petition for a writ of habeas corpus is DENIED.

         I. Background

         Petitioner was convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance under 21 U.S.C. § 846 and a money-laundering conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). Petitioner was sentenced to ninety months imprisonment followed by four years of supervised release. Petitioner has a projected release date of June 5, 2019.

         On September 23, 2017, Camp Officer L. Smith, a staff member at the United States Federal Correctional Institution FPC Terre Haute, in Terre Haute, Indiana, filed an incident report charging petitioner with the possession of a portable cellular telephone. The report stated that on September 23, 2017, Camp Officer L. Smith was conducting rounds in Unit S07-021U at FPC Terre Haute and observed inmate Yates place a white towel on top of his locker. Smith asked Yates to hand the towel to him to be searched. When Yates handed the towel to Smith, a silver Samsung cellular telephone fell from inside of the towel. Yates was told to give Smith the phone, which was laying in the locker. Yates complied. During the investigation, Lieutenant McPherson took a statement from Yates wherein Yates claimed the report was true as written and stated “I am guilty.”

         On September 26, 2017, the Unit Disciplinary Committee (UDC) conducted a hearing wherein Yates commented “No” to the committee in reference to the incident. The UDC determined that because of the seriousness of the charge, the incident should be referred to a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO). On the same day, petitioner was provided with written notice of the DHO hearing and his rights at the hearing. Petitioner waived his right to have a staff representative appear on his behalf, and he did not request any witnesses.

         The DHO hearing was held on October 4, 2017. Petitioner's due process rights were read to him by the DHO at the hearing. Petitioner informed the DHO that he understood his rights, he did not wish to submit documentary evidence, he confirmed that he did not request witnesses, and confirmed that he declined staff representation. Petitioner denied the charges. Regarding the incident, petitioner informed the DHO “It's not true.” Petitioner did not offer any other witnesses or testimony.

         Although petitioner denied the charges, the DHO found petitioner guilty of possession of a hazardous tool.[2] In arriving at this decision, the DHO acknowledged petitioner's denial of the charges, but found that the greater weight of the evidence supported finding petitioner guilty of the disciplinary infractions. In reaching this conclusion, the DHO relied on information from Camp Officer L. Smith's written incident report, petitioner's statement within the report which stated “I'm guilty, ” the photograph of the Samsung cellular phone, and other supporting documentation which included petitioner's disciplinary history. The DHO report was delivered to petitioner on November 28, 2017.

         Petitioner's administrative appeals have been denied.

         Petitioner has now filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus alleging that the evidence was insufficient to support loss of credits and liberties.

         II. Discussion

         Petitioner claims that there was insufficient evidence presented to support the DHO finding petitioner guilty of possession of a hazardous tool.

         A petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by a federal inmate under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 is proper where the inmate is challenging the manner in which his sentence is being executed. Capaldi v. Pontesso, 135 F.3d 1122, 1123 (6th Cir. 1998). Petitioner's application is properly brought under Section 2241 because he is challenging the execution of his sentence.

         A prisoner is afforded the following due process rights in a disciplinary proceeding: (1) written notice of the charges at least twenty-four hours before a disciplinary hearing; (2) a written statement by the fact finders about the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action; (3) presentation of witnesses and documentary evidence in defense when doing so will not be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals; and (4) the assistance of staff or a competent inmate when the inmate is illiterate or when the issues are complex. Wolff v. McDonnell, ...

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