The opinion of the court was delivered by: Christopher C. Conner United States District Judge
Presently before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by petitioner, Dayton Martice Waddy ("Waddy"), an inmate currently incarcerated at the Low Security Correctional Institution at Allenwood, White Deer, Pennsylvania. Waddy contends that respondent violated his due process rights in the context of a disciplinary hearing. (Doc. 1, at 1.) The petition is ripe for disposition and, for the reasons that follow, the matter will be remanded to the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") for a new hearing.
On April 3, 2008, while incarcerated at the Federal Corrections Institution in Cumberland, Maryland, Waddy received an incident report charging him with "Possession, Manufacture, or Introduction of a Hazardous Tool" in violation of Code 108 and "Possession of Anything Not Authorized" in violation of Code 305, based on the following report generated by R. Kline, Senior Officer:
On 4-03-2008 at approximately 8:10 pm I received a radio call from Powerhouse staff Reitmeyer. He observed 1 inmate coming from the access road. I began checking the area adjacent to camp visiting. Behind Camp Food Service I located Inmate Waddy #39065-083. He was laying in the driveway leading to camp recreation. He was attempting to hide by covering his head and face. I ordered Waddy to submit to hand restraints. He complied after several requests. Senior Officer Dontizen arrived in a van and transported Waddy to FCI. After Senior Officer Dontizen departed myself and Reitmeyer did a brief search of area. Approximately 30 yards from where Waddy was located a brown in color duffel bag was located. It contained 2 cell phones, 1 cell phone charger[,] 10 bags of tobacco and 11 homemade DVD movies. (Doc. 1-4, at 2.)
The Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") disciplinary process is fully outlined in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 28, Sections 541.10 through 541.23. These regulations dictate the manner in which disciplinary action may be taken should a prisoner violate, or attempt to violate, institutional rules. The first step requires filing an incident report and conducting an investigation pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 541.14. The investigation must be conducted promptly unless circumstances beyond the control of the investigator intervene. 28 C.F.R. § 541.14(b).
Following the investigation, the matter is then referred to the UDC for a hearing pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 541.15. If the UDC finds that a prisoner has committed a prohibited act, it may impose minor sanctions. If the alleged violation is serious and warrants consideration for more than minor sanctions, or involves a prohibited act listed in the high category offenses, the UDC refers the matter to a DHO for a hearing. 28 C.F.R. § 541.15. Because Waddy was charged with an offense in the high severity category, the matter was referred for a disciplinary hearing.
The hearing commenced on April 16, 2008. (Doc. 1-5, at 2.) Waddy appeared with his staff representative, Ms. Hart. According to the DHO, "Ms. Hart inquired how Waddy could be charged with contraband that was not in his possession but was only in the proximity of where he was apprehended by staff. At the conclusion of the hearing Ms. Hart stated that Waddy had received a fair hearing and that appropriate sanctions were imposed." (Id.)
During his inmate statement, "Waddy acknowledged receiving a copy of the incident report and stated he understood his rights before the DHO. Waddy stated he was talking to a white guy at the recreation gate about a basketball game that was played earlier. Waddy stated he was bouncing a handball against the wall while he was talking with this other inmate. He then stated the ball bounced past him and he went to get it. Waddy stated he was unable to pick up the handball because he was stopped by the officer. . . . Waddy also stated it was not possible for the officer from the powerhouse to have seen him at the recreation gate. Waddy also stated the staff never asked him about a bag or where the bag was." (Id. at 2-3.)
The DHO found Waddy committed the prohibited acts. In doing so, he relied on the reporting officer's statements contained in the incident report. (Doc. 1-5, at 3.) Waddy's description of the incident was considered and it was found to "lack credibility based on the distance from the recreation gate to the area where staff reportedly found Waddy laying on the driveway to recreation." (Id. at 4.) The DHO also considered Waddy's contention that the officer could not have seen him from the powerhouse. The DHO commented that the report did not say the officer was at the powerhouse, only that he was assigned to the powerhouse. (Id.) The DHO then concluded that "[t]here are clear lines of sight from various areas where the Powerhouse Foreman works where he would certainly be able to see inmates at the recreation gate or coming from the access road." (Id.) Therefore, he gave little weight to this challenge. Lastly, Waddy's claim that he was not responsible for the bag because it was not in his possession, only found nearby, was considered and rejected. The DHO found that "there is sufficient connection between the location where the bag of contraband was found and where Waddy was apprehended sufficient establishes a nexus connecting Waddy and the contraband." (Id.) The DHO summarized as follows:
Therefore, the DHO finds, on the greater weight of the evidence given to the reporting officer's description of the incident, the location of the contraband in relation to where Waddy was apprehended and the lack of any justifiable reason for Waddy to be in this area at this time of day, that Waddy committed the prohibited acts of the possession, manufacture, or introduction of a hazardous tool and the possession anything not authorized. (Doc. 1-5, at 4.) He was sanctioned with a loss of fifty-three days of Good Conduct Time, forfeiture of sixty days non-vested Good Conduct Time, seventy-five days of disciplinary segregation, ninety days telephone restriction and social visiting restriction and a disciplinary transfer.
Waddy alleges that his due process rights were violated in the context of the disciplinary hearing which resulted in a loss of good conduct time. Such a claim is properly the subject of this habeas petition ...