United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
November 28, 2005.
JUAN MONSALVE, Petitioner
WARDEN TROY WILLIAMSON, Respondent.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN JONES III, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:
The petitioner, Juan Monsalve ("Petitioner"), an inmate
incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary, Allenwood,
("USP-Allenwood"), filed this pro se Petition for Writ of
Habeas Corpus ("Petition") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on
October 7, 2005. Petitioner challenges disciplinary proceedings
initiated against him in May 2000 while confined at the
Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, New York.
The case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Malachy
E. Mannion for preliminary review. Thereafter, on December 17,
2004, Magistrate Judge Mannion issued a report recommending that
the Petition for Habeas Corpus be denied because the Petitioner
does not challenge the "fact or duration" of his confinement, but
challenges the procedures leading up to and during his disciplinary hearing. (See Rep. & Rec. at 3).
Objections to Magistrate Judge Mannion's Report were due
November 17, 2005. On November 10, 2005, Petitioner filed
objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report. This matter is now
ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW:
When objections are filed to a report of a magistrate judge, we
make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified proposed findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge to which there are objections. See United
States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667 (1980); see also
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Rule 72.31. Furthermore, district judges have
wide discretion as to how they treat recommendations of a
magistrate judge. See id. Indeed, in providing for a de
novo review determination rather than a de novo hearing,
Congress intended to permit whatever reliance a district judge,
in the exercise of sound discretion, chooses to place on a
magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations. See
id., see also Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 275 (1976);
Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 7 (3d Cir. 1984).
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND:
On May 18, 2005, a correctional officer at Metropolitan
Correction Center entered Petitioner's cell and found a
institution t-shirt stuffed with clothing under the bed. It was the officer's opinion that the t-shirt had the
"look and feel of an upper torso of a human being," and was "the
start of a dummy, which is commonly used in escapes or escape
attempts." (Rec. Doc. 1, Incident Report). Petitioner admitted
that the stuffed t-shirt was his, but claimed that he was merely
using the shirt to hold his dirty laundry because he did not
possess a laundry bag. Petitioner claims he had stuffed the
t-shirt with the dirty laundry only five minutes before the
officer's arrival in his cell, and that the t-shirt was not
concealed under the bed, but was placed next to the bed.
An investigation of the incident was conducted on May 24, 2000.
The investigator noted that there were three empty laundry bags
in the cell, and therefore concluded that Petitioner's assertion
that the t-shirt was being used for a laundry bag was untruthful.
Thereafter, Petitioner was charged with Attempted Escape from a
Secure Institution.*fn1 At Petitioner's disciplinary
hearing, he was found guilty of the charge and given 60 days
visiting restriction and 45 days of segregated housing.
Petitioner filed the Petition on October 7, 2005. The Petition
was filed in response to the disciplinary action taken against
the Petitioner in May of 2000. In his Petition, Petitioner claims that he was not provided with a
detention order within twenty-four hours after the alleged
incident; he was not provided a copy of the incident report
within twenty-four hours of the alleged incident; and the Unit
Disciplinary Committee did not convene to consider the charge
within three working days of the incident. Further, Petitioner
claims that his disciplinary hearing was held outside of the
appropriate time period, with no extension of time sought by the
Warden; the incident that he was charged and found guilty of by
the disciplinary hearing officer ("DHO") does not exist in the
prison regulations; he was prevented from calling witnesses or
presenting evidence; he was denied the right to review the
evidence against him; and the DHO failed to make specific
findings of fact with regard to the charged incident. Based upon
these claims set forth in the Petition, Petitioner seeks the
"removal, withdrawal and expungement of the May 18, 2000 Incident
Report from his files" and "reclassification based on [the]
removal or expungement of the May 18, 2000 [Incident Report]."
(Rep. & Rec. at 3). Magistrate Judge Mannion issued a Report and
Recommendation on October 28, 2005. Petitioner filed objections
to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation on November
10, 2005. Therefore, the Report and Recommendation is ripe for
DISCUSSION: Magistrate Judge Mannion recommends that the Petition be
dismissed because it was inappropriately filed as a petition for
writ of habeas corpus. Magistrate Judge Mannion notes that habeas
corpus petitions are the proper mechanism for a prisoner to
challenge the "fact or duration" of his confinement. Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 498-499 (1973). Further, Magistrate
Judge Mannion reasons that the Petition challenges the procedures
leading up to and during Petitioner's disciplinary hearing, and
therefore the Petition does not "challenge the very fact or
duration of the confinement itself." Leamer v. Fauver,
288 F. 3d 532 (3d Cir. 2002). Magistrate Judge Mannion explains that the
instant action should have been filed as a civil rights action in
the United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, which is where the contested incident occurred. (See Rep.
& Rec. at 3).
It is well settled that relief by way of writ of habeas corpus
is quite limited. See Leamer, 288 F.3d at 540.*fn2 The
language of §§ 2241 and 2254 coupled with a reading of the
common-law history of the writ indicates that "the essence of
habeas corpus is an attack by a person in custody upon the
legality of that custody, and that the traditional function of
the writ is to secure release from illegal custody." Preiser, 411 U.S. at 484. Moreover, a "§ 1983 action is a
proper remedy for a . . . prisoner who is making a constitutional
challenge to the conditions of his prison life, but not to the
fact or length of his custody." Preiser, 411 U.S. at 499.
It is apparent to us from the claims set forth in the Petition
and the relief requested that a habeas corpus petition is an
inappropriate mechanism for settling Petitioner's claims arising
from the May 18, 2000 disciplinary incident at the Metropolitan
Correction Center. Petitioner is not attacking the "fact or
length" of his sentence inasmuch as he is not attacking the
underlying conviction that caused him to be incarceration at the
Metropolitan Correction Center. Instead, Petitioner is attacking
the "conditions of prison life," by means of attacking the
circumstances surrounding his disciplinary incident. Furthermore,
we agree with Magistrate Judge Mannion that Petitioner may
properly assert his claims by filing a § 1983 action in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York, which is where the alleged incident giving rise to
Petitioner's claims took place.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. The Report and Recommendation (doc. 5) issued on
October 28, 2005 by Magistrate Judge Mannion is
adopted in its entirety for the reasons cited herein. 2. The Petition for Habeas Corpus is denied.
3. The Clerk is directed to close the file on this
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