The opinion of the court was delivered by: Yvette Kane, Chief Judge Middle District of Pennsylvania
On February 25, 2010, Thomas Taylor ("Taylor"), an inmate at the Low Security Correctional Institution at Allenwood (LSCI-Allenwood), Pennsylvania, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. In the complaint Taylor names as Defendants the following LSCI-Allenwood officials: William Scism, Warden; J. Berkihiser, Special Investigation Technician; and Todd Cerney, Disciplinary Hearing Officer. He has submitted the full filing fee in this matter. As such, the complaint will be afforded preliminary screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that the complaint is subject to dismissal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1).
I. Allegations of the Complaint
In the instant action, Plaintiff alleges that on July 2, 2009, Defendant J. Berkihiser, SIS Special Investigative Technician at LSCI-Allenwood, conducted a search of his cell. Fifteen (15) manilla envelopes and their contents were confiscated. After returning to his housing unit, Plaintiff was advised of the confiscation. Plaintiff was not charged with any infraction at the time, but was informed that the confiscated items were under review and would be returned. Approximately 144 days later, Lieutenant Engel served Plaintiff with an Incident Report charging him with the following violations: (1) Code 297 - Use of the Telephone for Abuses other than Criminal; (2) Code 305 - Possession of Anything Not Authorized; and (3) Code 314 -Counterfeiting or Forging any Documentation, Article of Identification, Money, or Official Paper. Although the report was dated July 2, 2009, the "Description of Incident" section of the report stated that staff became aware of the incident on November 24, 2009. (Doc. 1, Compl., Ex. 1, Incident Report.)
On December 1, 2009, Counselor Russell advised Plaintiff that the incident report was being referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO"). Plaintiff states he began preparing for the DHO hearing, and was provided with nothing more than the Incident Report which referenced UCC-1 Financing Statements, Homemade Promissory Notes, Homemade International Bills of Exchange and Certified Promissory Notes, and other UCC-related documents.
Plaintiff files the instant action wherein he challenges the DHO hearing conducted on January 21, 2010, before DHO Officer Todd Cerney on due process grounds. He claims that:
(1) Cerney was biased and that his finding of guilt was a product of his own personal beliefs and
(2) he was not "provided full discovery in order to allow him to properly prepare his defense." (Id. at 5.) The DHO found Plaintiff guilty of the Code 305 and 314 violations, and sanctioned him to the loss of 26 days of good conduct time and a 3 month loss of email privileges.*fn1 (Id., Ex. 1 at 16-20, DHO Report.)
Plaintiff seeks relief in the form of monetary damages and the restoration of forfeited prison good conduct time.
Notwithstanding Plaintiff's payment of the filing fee, the Prison Litigation Reform Act*fn2 obligates the Court to engage in the screening of the complaint. Specifically, Section 1915A provides as follows:
(a) Screening. The court shall review, before docketing if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental ...