United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Murphy filed this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus during
the time he was incarcerated at North Branch Correctional
Institution in Cumberland, Maryland on December 24, 2015. ECF
No. 1. Murphy's petition challenges the sanctions he
received between 2002 and 2005 for violating disciplinary
rules, which effectively delayed his release date.
Respondents filed an Answer seeking dismissal and denial of
the Petition. ECF No. 5 On August 8, 2017, Murphy notified
the Court that he has been released from prison. ECF No. 9.
No. hearing is necessary. Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For
the following reasons, Murphy's Petition is denied.
time of filing the Petition, Murphy was serving a sentence
with a maximum expiration date of March 30, 2018. As of March
31, 2016, all but 216 of Murphy's diminution of
confinement credits had been revoked. Subtracting the 216
diminution credits from the March 30, 2018 maximum expiration
date, Murphy's mandatory supervised release date was
August 26, 2017. ECF No. 5-3. Murphy's Petition alleges
his diminution credits were improperly revoked and presumably
seeks their restoration.
district courts are limited to deciding whether a
prisoner's custody is in violation of the Constitution or
laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2241; Rose v.
Hodges, 423 U.S. 19, 21 (1975). Although Murphy has been
released from prison, the custody requirement of § 2241
is met because he was incarcerated at the time he filed the
Petition. See Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7
(1998). The question instead is whether his release renders
the case moot, or whether there are collateral consequences
to render the habeas application justiciable. Id. at
8. “Usually, when a defendant's sentence expires
during legal proceedings that challenge the length of the
term of imprisonment, the case becomes moot unless a
cognizable collateral consequence remains.” United
States v. Fluker, 891 F.3d 541, 550 (4th Cir. 2018)
(citing Lane v. Williams, 455 U.S. 624, 630-32
(1982)). As Murphy is no longer incarcerated, the Court
cannot order the relief he is seeking. Further, the record
does not indicate whether Murphy is serving a period of
parole after release, and “[w]hile the Supreme Court
has recognized that certain collateral consequences render an
otherwise moot habeas application justiciable, completing
one's incarceration and complying with the terms of
parole (while facing the possibility of parole revocation)
does not qualify.” Maxey v. Warden, No.
1:109CV443, 2010 WL 1703731, at *2 (E.D. Va. April 26, 2010)
even if Murphy's claims were not rendered moot by his
release, they are without merit. Murphy argues that the
disciplinary infractions he received between 2002 and 2005
are invalid based on Massey v. Secretary, Dept. of Public
Safety and Correctional Services, 886 A.2d 585 (Md.
2005). In Massey, the Court of Appeals of Maryland
ruled that Division of Corrections' (“DOC”)
directives for prisoner disciplinary proceedings were
regulations that must be adopted pursuant to the Maryland
Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).
Massey, 886 A.2d at 602. Murphy argues that because
he received the disciplinary violations before the associated
regulations were adopted pursuant to the Maryland APA, the
violations cannot support revocation of his diminution
credits. See ECF No. 1.
and diminution credit calculation disputes generally are
issues of state law and do not give rise to a federal
question. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68
(1991); see also Swarthout v. Cooke, 562 U.S. 216,
222 (2011) (noting that the Court has “long recognized
that a mere error of state law is not a denial of due
process”). A violation of a state law that does not
infringe upon a specific constitutional right is cognizable
in federal habeas corpus proceedings only if it amounts to a
“fundamental defect which inherently results in a
complete miscarriage of justice.” Hailey v.
Dorsey, 580 F.2d 112, 115 (4th Cir. 1978) (quoting
Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962)). A
dispute over diminution credits generally does not rise to
this level. See Willeford v. Estelle, 538 F.2d 1194,
1197 (5th Cir. 1976). If a “claim . . . rests solely
upon an interpretation of [state] case law and statutes, it
is simply not cognizable on federal habeas review.”
Wright v. Angelone, 151 F.3d 151, 157 (4th Cir.
challenge to state-created procedures does not amount to a
federal constitutional claim. This Court has previously
determined that the Court of Appeals of Maryland's
invalidation of DOC directives in Massey does not
implicate federal due process protections. Ashby v.
Shearin, No. PJM-11-2955 2012 WL 2091150, at *4 (D. Md.
June 8, 2012) (rejecting challenge relying on Massey
in context of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action); Fulford-El
v. Maynard, No. WDQ-10-0618, 2011 WL 2619542, at *4 (D.
Md. June 26, 2011) (same). Thus, even if Murphy's claims
were not mooted by his release, they are not cognizable on
federal habeas review.
foregoing reasons, Murphy's Petition, ECF No. 1, shall be
denied and dismissed with prejudice. A Certificate of
Appealability shall not issue. A separate Order follows.
 Frank Bishop is the current warden of
North Branch Correctional Institution. See ECF No.
4. The Clerk is directed to amend the docket ...