United States District Court, D. Maryland
Xinis United States District Judge
moves to dismiss or for summary judgment in response to the
above-entitled Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. ECF No. 3. Petitioner
opposes the motion, ECF No. 5, and Respondent has filed a
Reply. ECF No. 6. For the reasons stated herein,
Respondent's motion, construed as a Motion for Summary
Judgment,  shall be granted, and the Petition shall
Lewis Scott (“Scott”) is a Federal Bureau of
Prisons (“BOP”) inmate confined to the Federal
Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland
(“FCI-Cumberland”). By his petition, Scott raises
claims regarding an adjustment of his prison sentence for
violating institutional rules that resulted in deducting 141
days of his good conduct time. ECF No. 1.
is serving a 95-month sentence following his conviction for
conspiring to distribute drugs. Decl. of Tiffanie Little, ECF
No. 3-2 at 2. At the time of the incident, Scott was confined
at FCI-Schuykill. Id. On August 19, 2014, an
eight-inch sharpened toothbrush was found under the locker of
Scott's cell mate. Incident Report, ECF No. 3-2 at 10.
Neither Scott nor the cell mate admitted ownership. DHO
Report, ECF No. 3-2 at 18. Karl Christeleit, a BOP Case
Manager, prepared an Incident Report charging Scott with
violating Code 104, “Possession of a Weapon.”
Id. A photograph taken on the day of the incident
“clearly depicts the homemade weapon as described in
the report.” DHO Report, ECF No. 3-2 at 18.
Unit Disciplinary Committee (“UDC”) held an
initial hearing on August 22, 2014, attended by Scott.
Incident Report, ECF No. 3-2 at 10. The UDC recommended that
the Incident Report be expunged because the weapon was found
under another inmate's locker and there was a “lack
of concrete evidence linking the weapon to Scott.”
Id. Despite its recommendation, the UDC referred the
charge to the Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”)
for further hearing, because a finding of guilt would warrant
greater sanctions than the UDC could impose. Id. The
UDC advised Scott of his rights to have a full-time staff
member represent him at the DHO hearing and to call witnesses
and present documentary evidence on his behalf. Inmate Rights
at Discipline Hearing, ECF No. 3-2 at 13. Scott indicated he
did not wish to have any witnesses, and asked Counselor
Kranzel to serve as his staff representative. Notice of
Discipline Hearing before the DHO, ECF No. 3-2 at 15.
and Kranzel appeared before the DHO on September 8, 2014. DHO
Report, ECF No. 3-2 at 17. When asked to comment on the
incident, Scott stated, “I don't know anything
about it; I was in the cube at the time of the search, my
cellie was at work.” Id. Scott did not call
any witnesses or present any documentary evidence.
Id. After a review of all of the relevant evidence,
including Scott's statements, the Incident Report, and a
photograph of the weapon, the DHO concluded that Scott was
guilty of possessing a weapon, and imposed 60 days
disciplinary segregation, deducted 41 days of Scott's
good conduct time, ordered 100 days of his non-vested good
conduct time to be forfeited, and suspended his phone and
visitation privileges for one year. Id. at 18.
properly appealed the DHO sanctions at the Regional and
Central Office levels before filing this lawsuit.
Administrative Remedy Generalized Retrieval, (Nov. 7, 2016),
ECF No. 3-2 at 22-25. He has consistently argued that he
should not be charged with “constructive
possession” because the weapon was found in a common
area of the cell that he shared with another prisoner and to
which others had access. ECF No. 1 at 4; ECF No. 5 at 1.
Scott states that both the correctional officer who filed the
incident report and the Central Office that had considered
his administrative remedy appeal recommended the matter be
expunged. ECF No. 5 at 2. In his opposition response, Scott
argues that his due process rights were violated because the
weapon was not subjected to DNA testing and fingerprint to
determine its true ownership. Id. at 3.
Standard of Review
Judgment is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) which provides
that “the court shall grant summary judgment if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” The Supreme Court has clarified that
this does not mean that any factual dispute will defeat the
motion. “By its very terms, this standard provides that
the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is
that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
party opposing a properly supported motion for summary
judgment ‘may not rest upon the mere allegations or
denials of [his] pleadings, ' but rather must ‘set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.'” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens
Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003)
(alteration in original) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The
court should “view the evidence in the light most
favorable to . . . the nonmovant, and draw all inferences in
her favor without weighing the evidence or assessing the
witness' credibility.” Dennis v. Columbia
Colleton Med. Ctr., Inc., 290 F.3d
639, 644-45 (4th Cir. 2002). The court must, however, also
abide by the “affirmative obligation of the trial judge
to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from
proceeding to trial.” Bouchat, 346 F.3d at 526
(internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Drewitt v.
Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993), and citing
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323-24 (1986)).
argues that due process requires a higher demonstration of
proof to support a disciplinary hearing officer's finding
of fact, to include DNA testing. ECF No. 5 at 1. He misreads
existing precedent. In prison disciplinary proceedings where
a prisoner faces the possible loss of diminution credits, he
is entitled to certain due process protections. These
include: (1) advance written notice of the charges against
him; (2) a written statement of the evidence relied on and
the reasons for taking any disciplinary action; (3) a hearing
where he is afforded the right to call witnesses and present
evidence when doing so is not inconsistent with institutional
safety and correctional concerns; (4) the opportunity to have
non-attorney representation when the inmate is illiterate or
the disciplinary hearing involves complex issues; (5) an
impartial decision-maker; and (6) a written decision. See
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-66 (1974). There
is no constitutional right to confront and cross-examine
witnesses or to retain and be appointed counsel. See
Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 322 (1976);
Brown v. Braxton, 373 F.3d 501, 504-05 (4th Cir.
2004). As long as the hearing officer's decision is in
writing and sets forth the evidence upon which the officer
relied, due process is satisfied. See Baxter, 425
U.S. at 322 n.5. Moreover, substantive due process is
satisfied if the hearing officer's decision was based
upon “some evidence.” Superintendent, Mass.
Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985).
federal courts do not review the correctness of a
disciplinary hearing officer's findings of fact. See
Kelly v. Cooper, 502 F.Supp. 1371, 1376 (E.D. Va. 1980).
The findings will only be disturbed when unsupported by any
evidence, or when wholly arbitrary and capricious. See
Hill, 472 U.S. at 456; see also Baker v. Lyles,
904 F.2d 925, 933 (4th Cir. 1990). Nor is the sanction of
revoking good time ...