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Kareem Hassan Milhouse v. B.A. Bledsoe

October 27, 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 Kareem Hassan Milhouse ("Milhouse"), an inmate confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania ("USP-Lewisburg"). Milhouse 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 November 19, 2010, at approximately 12:05 p.m., Senior Officer E. Gee went to Milhouse's cell in Z-Block and ordered him to submit to hand restraints in order to be moved to J-Block, another housing unit. (Doc. 7-1 at 7.) Milhouse refused to comply with the order and, as reported by Officer Gee, stated, "If you put me in that cell in J-Block I will fuck him up," and "I will fuck up anyone you try to put me in with if I don't know them because I have a court date already set." (Id.)

As a result of this incident, Milhouse was issued an incident report charging him with Threatening Bodily Harm, in violation of Section 203 of the Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") disciplinary code. (Id.) The incident report was delivered to Milhouse at approximately 2:15 p.m. on November 19, 2010. (Id.)

An investigation was conducted on November 19, 2010, commencing at 2:15 p.m. (Id. at 8.) The investigating officer, Acting Lieutenant D. Dowkus, reported that Milhouse was advised of his rights and given a copy of his report, that Milhouse made no statement, and that his attitude was fair. (Id.) After completing his investigation, Lieutenant Dowkus referred the incident report to the Unit Disciplinary Committee ("UDC") for further review. (Id.)

The UDC held a hearing on November 23, 2010. (Id. at 7.) At the hearing, Milhouse was advised of his rights and stated that he understood them. (Id.) Further, Milhouse stated, "Nothing ever occurred. I just refused to go into a cell with someone I did not know." (Id.)

After reviewing the matter, the UDC referred it to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO") for further hearing. (Id.) Milhouse was advised of the DHO hearing and advised of his rights at that hearing. (Id. at 9-10, 12, 14-16.) He was given copies of "Duties of Staff Representative," "Notice of Discipline Hearing Before the DHO," and "Inmate Rights at Discipline Hearing." (Id.) The UDC noted that Milhouse requested as a witness one of the officers working on Z-Block's basement level on November 19, 2010. (Id. at 15.) There is no record of Milhouse requesting video surveillance at that time. (Id.)

Milhouse initially indicated that he wished to have Special Investigative Agent Fosnot serve as his staff representative. (Id. at 14.) However, Agent Fosnot was not available to act as a staff representative because his duties included investigating matters that would create a conflict of interest. (Id.) Subsequently, Milhouse requested another staff member on November 23, 2010, but the staff member declined the position because Milhouse had filed several lawsuits against him and had attempted to place a lien against his property. (Id. at 12-13.) Thereafter, on February 7, 2011, the Warden was able to appoint Steve Brown, a Health Services Administrator, to act as Milhouse's staff representative. (Id. at 9-11.)

The DHO held a hearing on February 7, 2011. (See id. at 4-6.) Milhouse met with staff representative Brown prior to the hearing, and no concerns with the proceedings were noted. (Id. at 4.) At the hearing, Milhouse acknowledged that he understood his rights before the DHO. (Id.) He presented no documentary evidence for the DHO to consider. (Id.) He did provide the following statement: "The officer never said anything to me; I did have an issue with the other inmate because he's a homosexual and I said I wasn't going to go into the cell with him." (Id.) He also stated, "They put me in restraints that same day and I requested video surveillance at the time but it was never documented in the report." (Id.) The DHO then noted that no procedural issues were cited, and advised Milhouse to make any formal request for documents to the Central Office. (Id.) He also noted that Milhouse had requested the testimony of one of the officers assigned to Z-Block on November 19, 2010. (Id. at 5.) After a search of the staff assigned to Z-Block that day revealed Officer Naugle as one of the officers, Officer Naugle testified that he did not recall the incident. (Id.)

The DHO relied on the incident report and investigation, as well as Milhouse's testimony, to conclude that, by a greater weight of the evidence, Milhouse had committed the Code 203 violation, Threatening Bodily Harm. (Id. at 5.) Milhouse was sanctioned with disallowance of 27 days of good conduct time, forfeiture of 30 days of non-vested good conduct time, 30 days of disciplinary segregation, and loss of 4 months of telephone privileges. (Id.)

II. Discussion

The BOP disciplinary process is fully outlined in Code of Federal Regulations ("C.F.R."), Title 28, Sections 541.10 through 541.23.*fn1 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. ยง 541.15. If the UDC finds that a prisoner has committed a prohibited act, it may impose minor sanctions. (Id.) 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. (Id.) Because Milhouse was charged with ...

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