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Cole-Jackson v. Johnson

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

October 10, 2018


         SECTION P



         Before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 by pro se petitioner Tireece Cole-Jackson. Cole-Jackson 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”).

         This petition has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636 and the standing orders of this court. For the reasons stated below, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the petition be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts.

         I. Background

         Cole-Jackson brings this petition seeking expungement of an incident report and restoration of earned good time credit lost through disciplinary proceedings relating to that report. Doc. 1, p. 8. The incident report and disciplinary proceedings in question occurred at the Federal Correctional Institution at Englewood, Colorado (“FCIE”). See doc. 1, att. 2, pp. 11-15. He also complains of the handling of administrative remedies by the BOP. Doc. 1, pp. 6-8. Cole-Jackson now brings the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his disciplinary report should be expunged and good time credit restored because the incident was investigated by the same officer who wrote the report, in violation of BOP policy. Id. at 7. He also alleges that he was denied due process by the denials of his attempts at administrative remedy as untimely. Id. at 6-8.

         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). A petition for habeas relief by a federal prisoner is premature when the prisoner fails to exhaust his administrative remedies. Fuller v. Rich, 11 F.3d 61, 62 (5th Cir. 1994). Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), exhaustion is an affirmative defense. See Jones v. Bock, 127 S.Ct. 910 (2007). The PLRA does not apply to habeas proceedings and nothing in Jones prohibits the sua sponte dismissal of a § 2241 petition on exhaustion grounds. See, e.g., Callahan v. Young, 2013 WL 3346842 at *2 n. 2 (W.D. La. Jul. 2, 2013); accord Wy v. Berkebile, 2008 WL 5262711 at *2 n. 2 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 17, 2008) (citing Korobov v. Angeli, 2008 WL 2787874 at *1 (M.D. Pa. Jul. 17, 2008)). Exceptions to the exhaustion requirement apply only in extraordinary circumstances. Castano v. Everhart, 235 Fed.Appx. 206, 207-08 (5th Cir. 2007). Exhaustion means “proper exhaustion, ” including compliance with all administrative deadlines and procedures. Woodford v. Ngo, 126 S.Ct. 2378, 2385 (2006).

         Cole-Jackson's claims of a due process violation in the handling of his administrative remedies are not grounds for habeas relief because they would not entitle him to accelerated release. Instead, they are arguments in favor of administrative exhaustion of the current petition. This petition presents circumstances that might provide for an exception to the exhaustion requirement, namely relating to the handling of his original BP-10 by the North Central Regional Office and his second BP-10 by the South Central Regional Office. See doc. 1, pp. 1-4. Accordingly, we decline to evaluate administrative exhaustion on initial review.

         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). Thus, because a loss of good-time credits is involved in this proceeding, 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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