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Daniel Snider v. William Scism

April 12, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: (Judge Rambo)


Presently before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, filed by Petitioner Daniel Snider ("Snider"), an inmate confined at the Allenwood Low Security Institution ("LSCI-Allenwood") in White Deer, Pennsylvania. Snider alleges that his constitutional rights were violated in the context of a disciplinary proceeding. For the reasons that follow, the petition will be denied.

I. Facts

On October 6, 2009, at approximately 6:30 p.m., LSCI-Allenwood staff ordered Snider to provide a urine sample. (Doc. 7-2 at 16.) At approximately 6:40 p.m., Snider was told he had two hours to provide the urine sample and that if he failed to provide the sample within those two hours, he would be issued an incident report for failing to provide a urine sample. (Id.) Snider responded that he understood, but had problems in the past with providing urine samples. (Id.) As a result, Snider was offered and accepted water to drink during the two-hour testing period. (Id.) At 8:40 p.m., Snider had failed to provide a urine sample. (Id.) At that point he was given an additional thirty minutes to provide the sample. (Id.) At 9:10 p.m., Snider still had not provided the sample. (Id.)

As a result of his failure to provide a urine sample, Snider was issued an incident report charging him with Refusing to Provide a Urine Sample or Take Part in Other Drug-Abuse Testing in violation of Section 110 of the Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") disciplinary code. (Id.) The incident report was delivered to Snider at 8:17 a.m. on October 7, 2009. (Id.) An investigation was conducted on that same date. (Id. at 17.) The investigating officer, Lieutenant L. Engel, advised Snider of his rights, and Snider stated, "Yes, I understand my rights." (Id.) Snider also made a statement at that time: "I have a problem urinating." (Id.) The officer noted that Snider maintained a fair attitude during the interview. (Id.) After completing his investigation, Lieutenant Engel referred the incident report to the Unit Disciplinary Committee ("UDC") for further action. (Id. at 16-17.)

On October 13, 2009, the UDC held a hearing to review the incident report. (Id. at 16.) After reviewing the matter, the UDC referred it to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO") for further hearing. (Id.) Snider was advised of the DHO hearing, advised of his rights at that hearing, and provided with an advisement of rights form. (Id. at 19.)

On October 22, 2009, the DHO held a hearing. (See id. at 19-21.) Prior to the hearing, Snider was advised of his rights before the DHO and indicated he understood them. (Id. at 19.) He waived staff representation and witness testimony, but made the following statement: "I just couldn't go. I don't urinate very often per day." (Id.) In the hearing officer's decision dated October 22, 2009, finding that Snider had committed the act as charged, the DHO relied on documentary evidence such as the reporting officer's incident report and investigation, and the chain of custody form for the urinalysis testing list. (Id. at 20.) The DHO also noted the following:

Upon questioning by the DHO, Snider denied the charge. He elaborated upon his plea by stating, "I just couldn't go. I don't urinate very often per day." The DHO did not find Snider's stated mitigating circumstance material in showing the charged act not committed. [The reporting officer] noted ample water provided to Snider during the in excess of 2 hour time frame in which he was allowed to provide a urine sample. Ultimately, one was not provided. (Id.) Snider was sanctioned with disallowance of 40 days of good conduct time, 30 days of disciplinary segregation, 6 months loss of visitation, and 6 months loss of non-contact visitation. (Id.) The decision was delivered to Snider on October 30, 2009. (Id. at 21.)

Respondent provides that at the time of filing an answer to the instant petition, Snider had filed five (5) requests for administrative remedies, four (4) of which correspond to the issues raised in the instant petition. (See Doc. 7-2 at 7-14.) All of his requests for administrative remedies and appeals therefrom were either rejected as untimely or for filing at the wrong level. (See id.)

II. Discussion

The BOP disciplinary process is fully outlined in the 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. Staff is required to conduct the investigation promptly absent intervening circumstances beyond the control of the investigator. 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 greatest or high category offenses, the UDC refers the matter to a DHO for a hearing. 28 C.F.R. § 541.15. Because Snider was charged with Refusing to Provide a Urine Sample or to Take Part in Other Drug-Abuse Testing, an offense in the greatest severity category, the matter was referred for a disciplinary hearing.

Greatest category offenses carry a possible sanction of loss of good conduct time credits, inter alia. 28 C.F.R. § 541.13. When a prison disciplinary hearing may result in the loss of good conduct time credits, due process requires that the prisoner receive (1) written notice of the claimed violation at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance of the hearing, (2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in his or her defense when doing so would not be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals, and (3) a written statement by the factfinder as to evidence relied on and reasons for the disciplinary action. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-66 (1974).

Further, despite the absence of a statutory exhaustion requirement attached to § 2241, courts have consistently required a petitioner to exhaust administrative remedies prior to bringing habeas claims under § 2241. Speight v. Minor, 245 F. App'x 213, 215 (3d Cir. 2007); Callwood v. Enos, 230 F.3d 627, 634 (3d Cir. 2000); Moscato v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 98 F.3d 757, 760 (3d Cir. 1996). Exhaustion promotes a number of goals: "(1) allowing the appropriate agency to develop a factual record and apply its expertise facilitates judicial review; (2) permitting agencies to grant the relief requested conserves judicial resources; and (3) providing agencies the opportunity to correct their own errors fosters administrative autonomy." Moscato,98 F.3d at 761-62 (citing Bradshaw v. Carlson, 682 F.2d 1050, 1052 (3d Cir. 1981)). Courts, however, have excused exhaustion when it would not promote these goals. See, e.g., Gambino v. Morris, 134 F.3d 156, 171 (3d Cir. 1998) (Roth, ...

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