United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
WILLIAM H. JOHNSON, JR., Petitioner,
JEORLD BRAGGS, JR., Warden, Respondent.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. DOWDELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a 28 U.S.C. § 2241 habeas corpus action. The Petitioner,
William H. Johnson, Jr., is a state inmate and appears
pro se. When he filed his petition, Petitioner was
in custody at Dick Conner Correctional Center, located in
Hominy, Oklahoma. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
finds the petition shall be denied.
challenges the results of a prison disciplinary proceeding
held at James Crabtree Correctional Center (JCCC). The record
reflects that, on March 13, 2013, Petitioner received a copy
of the offense report for the offense of “attempt to
introduce contraband into a correctional facility”
(Doc. 5-2). An Investigator's Report (Doc. 5-3) was
prepared. Petitioner signed the report, acknowledging receipt
of the report, all attachments, and contents. Id. At
the conclusion of a hearing, held March 25, 2013, the hearing
officer found Petitioner guilty and imposed discipline,
including the loss of 365 days of earned credits.
See Doc. 5-4. The facility head affirmed the finding
on March 27, 2013. Id. Petitioner submitted a
misconduct appeal form, claiming that, inter alia,
there was no evidence to support the misconduct. See
Doc. 5-5. On April 29, 2013, Petitioner received a copy of
the Due Process Review form, reflecting the facility
head's finding that “[d]ue process procedures were
afforded to this offender.” See Doc. 5-6.
Petitioner appealed to the Administrative Review Authority
(ARA). See Doc. 5-7. On June 27, 2013, the
Director's Designee remanded for a rehearing on the
amended charge of “Law Violation.” See
Doc. 5-8. On July 15, 2013, at the conclusion of a rehearing
on the amended charge, Petitioner was found guilty of a
“law violation, ” and received sanctions,
including the loss of 365 days of earned credits.
See Doc. 5-9. After the facility head conducted a
Due Process Review and affirmed the misconduct finding,
see Doc. 5-11, Petitioner appealed to the ARA,
see Doc. 5-12. On October 18, 2013, the
Director's Designee affirmed, finding the existence of
sufficient evidence to support the disciplinary action.
See Doc. 5-13.
December 4, 2013, Petitioner filed a petition for judicial
review in Oklahoma County District Court, Case No.
CV-2013-2501 (Doc. 5-14). By Order filed January 15, 2014
(Doc. 5-15), the state district judge denied the requested
relief, finding that “the hearing officer clearly had
‘some evidence' upon which to base his decision,
including the following: that an offense report was completed
on March 1, 2013, stating that ‘this offender attempted
to have illegal drugs, tobacco, cell phones, and other items
of paraphernalia introduced into the yard at JCCC and once
introduced this offender was to sell a portion of those items
to other offenders.'” Id. at 2. Petitioner
appealed to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA). By
Order filed April 30, 2014, in Case No. REC-2014-131 (Doc.
5-17), the OCCA affirmed the denial of the petition for
judicial review, concluding that “Petitioner hasn't
established the District Court erred or abused its
discretion” in finding that “some evidence”
supported the decision of the hearing officer. Id.
21, 2014, Petitioner filed his 28 U.S.C. § 2241 petition
for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1). On August 13, 2014,
Respondent filed a response (Doc. 5), arguing that the
petition must be denied.
Exhaustion requirement is satisfied in this case
“A habeas petitioner is generally required to exhaust
state remedies whether his action is brought under §
2241 or § 2254.” Montez v. McKinna, 208
F.3d 862, 866 (10th Cir. 2000) (citing Coleman v.
Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 731 (1991)). In this case, the
Court finds Petitioner exhausted his administrative and state
judicial remedies before filing his federal habeas petition.
Petitioner's request for habeas corpus relief shall be
claims that, in his case, “the Offense Report itself is
not ‘evidence' and there was not even a modicum of
evidence to support a finding of guilt on a charge of Law
Violation and no determination was made concerning the
reliability of the confidential witness statements relied on
by both hearing officers in making their findings of
guilt.” See Doc. 1 at 9. Petitioner
acknowledges, see id., that his claim is governed by
the standards set forth in Superintendent, Mass.
Corr. Inst., Walpole v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445 (1985),
providing that “the minimum requirements of procedural
due process [require that] the findings of the prison
disciplinary board [be] supported by some evidence
in the record.” Id. at 454 (emphasis added).
obtain habeas corpus relief, an inmate must demonstrate that
he is “in custody in violation of the Constitution or
laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241(c)(3). The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has
long recognized that “an inmate's liberty interest
in his earned good time credits cannot be denied
‘without the minimal safeguards afforded by the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.'”
Taylor v. Wallace, 931 F.2d 698, 700 (10th Cir.
1991) (quoting Ponte v. Real, 471 U.S. 491, 495
(1985)). However, because prison disciplinary proceedings
“take place in a closed, tightly controlled environment
peopled by those who have chosen to violate the criminal law
and who have been lawfully incarcerated for doing so, ”
the “full panoply of rights due a defendant in
(criminal) proceedings does not apply.” Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556, 561 (1974); Real,
471 U.S. at 495; Abdulhaseeb v. Ward, 173 F.
App'x 658, 661 (10th Cir. 2006)
(unpublished). In Wolff, the Supreme Court held
that in order to satisfy due process in a prison disciplinary
proceeding, the inmate must receive: (1) “advance
written notice of the claimed violation” no less than
24 hours prior to the hearing; (2) an opportunity “to
call witnesses and present documentary evidence in his
defense when permitting him to do so will not be unduly
hazardous to institutional safety or correctional
goals”; and (3) a “written statement of the
factfinders as to the evidence relied upon and the reasons
for the disciplinary action taken.” Wolff, 418
U.S. at 563-66; Abdulhaseeb, 173 F. App'x at 661
(citing Hill, 472 U.S. at 454); Smith v.
Maschner, 899 F.2d 940, 946 (10th Cir. 1990). The
Supreme Court subsequently added that when “some
evidence” supports the decision to revoke good time
credits, the requirements of procedural due process have been
met. Hill, 472 U.S. at 454; Mitchell v.
Maynard, 80 F.3d 1433, 1445 (10th Cir. 1996) (review of
disciplinary proceeding limited to whether prison officials
followed three steps mandated by Wolff and whether
some evidence supported discipline). “Ascertaining
whether [the some evidence] standard is satisfied does not
require examination of the entire record, independent
assessment of the credibility of witnesses, or weighing of
the evidence. Instead, the relevant question is whether there
is any evidence in the record that could support the
conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.”
Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56; see also
Mitchell, 80 F.3d at 1445.
request for habeas corpus relief fails because the record
clearly demonstrates that he was afforded all the process to
which he was due under the Constitution. The Court finds that
all three of the Wolff procedural requirements were
met in the present case. See Doc. 5-9 at 1, 2; Doc.
5-11 at 1. Moreover, the “some evidence” standard
was clearly met. The evidence against Petitioner was based on
a “confidential testimony statement, ” and
demonstrated that Petitioner “was a major player in the
attempt and at times successful introduction of contraband
into the facility at JCCC. The investigation showed that this
offender helped to coordinate the drops and he would receive
a portion of that drop to sell to other offenders on this
yard.” See Doc. 5-3 at 4. After the charge was
amended to “Law Violation, ” the officer
conducting the rehearing found Petitioner guilty based on
“Unit Manager Rogers' statement that Johnson
attempted [to] have drugs, tobacco and phones introduced into
JCCC. Confidential witness testimony shows evidence that
Offender Johnson participated [in] a law violation.”
See Doc. 5-9. After reviewing the record, the Court
finds that the findings of the disciplinary officer were
supported by “some evidence.”
summary, Petitioner has failed to show any entitlement to
habeas relief. Petitioner was afforded all the process to
which he was due at the disciplinary hearing and
“some” evidence supported the finding of
misconduct. Petitioner's earned credits were not revoked
in violation of due process principles. ...