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Espinoza v. Johnson

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

January 2, 2018

DAVID CRUZ ESPINOZA REG. # 29850-308
v.
CALVIN JOHNSON

         SECTION P

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          KATHLEEN KAY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 by pro se petitioner David Cruz Espinoza. Espinoza is an inmate in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution at Oakdale, Louisiana (“FCIO”).

         I.

         Background

         Espinoza brings this petition seeking expungement of a prison disciplinary proceeding and restoration of good time credits. Doc. 1. He alleges that BOP staff have violated his right to due process by disregarding deadlines and failing to provide records and observe time limitations. Id. at 7. Specifically, he appears to complain about the rejections of his regional and central office appeals as untimely. Id. at 7-8. In relief, he requests that the court “hold the [BOP] to the time limitations set [forth] in the minimal protections that we as inmates have under administrative law.” Id. at 8. He also asks that the disciplinary sanctions be revoked and his good time credits restored. Id. Finally, he requests that the court order an investigation into his protective custody placement. Id.

         II.

         Law & Analysis

         A. Screening of Habeas Corpus Petitions

         A district court may apply any or all of the rules governing habeas petitions filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to those filed under § 2241. See Rule 1(b), Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases authorizes preliminary review of such petitions, and states that they must be summarily dismissed “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.” Id. at Rule 4. To avoid summary dismissal under Rule 4, the petition must contain factual allegations pointing to a “real possibility of constitutional error.” Id. at Rule 4, advisory committee note (quoting Aubut v. Maine, 431 F.2d 688, 689 (1st Cir. 1970)). Accordingly, we review the pleadings and exhibits before us to determine whether any right to relief is indicated, or whether the petition must be dismissed.

         B. Application

         A § 2241 petition on behalf of a sentenced prisoner “attacks the manner in which a sentence is carried out or the prison authorities' determination of its duration.” Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d 448, 451 (5th Cir. 2000). In order to prevail, a § 2241 petitioner must show 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).

         In a habeas challenge to a disciplinary proceeding, an inmate must show that the punishment intrudes on a liberty interest protected by the Constitution or some other law. Orellana v. Kyle, 65 F.3d 29, 31-32 (5th Cir. 1995) (citing Sandin v. Conner, 115 S.Ct. 2293 (1995)). It is assumed that federal prisoners have a liberty interest in their accumulated good-time credit. See, e.g., Henson v. Bureau of Prisons, 213 F.3d 897, 898 (5th Cir. 2000); Watkins v. Lnu, 547 Fed. App'x 409, 410 (5th Cir. 2013). Here Espinoza alleges that he has lost good-time credits as a result of the challenged disciplinary proceedings, and so the Supreme Court's analysis in Wolff v. McDonnell, 94 S.Ct. 2963 (1974), and Superintendent, Massachusetts Correctional Institution v. Hill, 105 S.Ct. 2768 (1985), governs our review.

         In order for a prison disciplinary proceeding to comport with the requirements of due process, the following minimal procedural safeguards must be afforded: (1) adequate notice of the alleged violation; (2) an opportunity to present evidence; (3) written findings in support of the ruling; and (4) the requirement that on review, ...


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