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Huffer v. Moyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 24, 2019

RYAN WAYNE HUFFER, Petitioner,
v.
STEPHEN T. MOYER, Secretary, Md. Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services, J. MICHAEL STOUFFER, Warden, Eastern Correctional Institution, JOHN WOLFE, JR., Warden, Maryland Correctional Training Center, RICHARD DOVEY, Warden, Maryland Correctional Training Center, RICKY FOXWELL and DAYENA CORCORAN, Respondents.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Ryan Wayne Huffer, who is currently incarcerated at Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI") in Westover, Maryland, has filed this Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. S 2241. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition will be DISMISSED and DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         Huffer is serving a 40-year sentence, with 20 years suspended, for first-degree child abuse and second-degree assault in connection with the death of his infant son, who suffered subdural hematomas and brain swelling from "shaken baby syndrome." Pet. ¶ 6, 8, ECF No. 1 On February 24, 2016, Huffer was convicted in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland following a six-day jury trial. At the time of the filing of the Petition, Huffer was working closely with counsel to overturn his conviction. On September 9, 2016, Huffer was transferred from the Maryland Correctional Training Center ("MCTC") in Hagerstown, Maryland to ECI. According to Huffer, because ECI is located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the transfer has subjected him to "infinitely more stressful" conditions because he cannot receive the "support and frequent visits" from family that he enjoyed while at MCTC and because ECI is "more dangerous" and "less rehabilitative" than MCTC. Pet. ¶ 10. Although Huffer asserts that the transfer took place despite the fact that he "has been a model inmate with no behavioral issues since his term of incarceration began, " his Case Manager at MCTC advised him that he was transferred through "no fault of his own" but instead because MCTC needed more room for "lower security inmates." Id. ¶¶ 13, 15.

         Huffer asserts that the transfer constituted the imposition of additional punishment in violation of his right to due process because ECI is a higher security facility, he thus faces increased potential for harm, such as from gang members, and the move disrupts his "comfort and well-being" by separating him geographically from his attorney, family, and friends. Id. ¶ 16. Although Huffer references issues with the validity of his criminal trial and asserts that he is actually innocent, the Petition seeks relief only as to the allegedly improper transfer. As relief, Huffer seeks an evidentiary hearing, a declaratory judgment stating that his transfer constituted punishmen,, and an immediate transfer from ECI to MCTC.

         DISCUSSION

         Respondents seek dismissal of the Petition on the basis that Huffer has not exhausted state and administrative remedies and that his claims are not cognizable because there has been no change in the duration of his confinement..

         I. Exhaustion of State Remedies

         Respondents argue that Huffer's Petition must be dismissed because he has failed to exhausted available state remedies. A petitioner seeking federal habeas relief must first present each of his claims to the state courts with jurisdiction to hear them. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A) (2012); Gray v. Netherland, 518 U.S. 152, 161-66 (1996). The relevant provision states that:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court shall not be granted unless it appears that-
(A) the applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State; or
(B)(i) there is an absence of available State corrective process; or
(ii) circumstances exist that render such process ineffective to protect the rights of the applicant.
(2) An application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the failure of the applicant to exhaust the remedies ...

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