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Juan Antonio Quintanilla v. Archie Longley

July 23, 2012

JUAN ANTONIO QUINTANILLA, PETITIONER
v.
ARCHIE LONGLEY, WARDEN FCI- MCKEAN, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Juan Antonio Quintanilla (APetitioner@), a federal prisoner, was, at the time of the events that gave rise to this case, incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution at McKean ("FCI-McKean"), which is physically located within this judicial district. He is still housed there. Petitioner, proceeding pro se, has filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under Title 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (the "Petition") by which he seeks to challenge the sanctions imposed by the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (ADHO@) as the result of Petitioner fighting with another prisoner. ECF No. 4. Those sanctions included the loss of 27 days of Good Conduct Time ("GCT") credits. The DHO found that Petitioner had engaged in fighting in violation of the United States Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") disciplinary rules. Because some evidence supports the fact that Petitioner engaged in fighting, Petitioner=s substantive due process challenge must fail. Because there is no evidence of invidious discrimination, Petitioner's Equal Protection claim must fail as well.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The facts are taken primarily from the Response to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. ECF No. 11.

On October 19, 2009, Petitioner was sentenced by the United States District Court for the Central District of California to a 90 month term of imprisonment followed by a three year term of supervised release for Conspiracy to Interfere with Commerce by Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, and Possession of a Firearm In Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime and a Crime of Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). ECF No. 11 at 2.

On June 7, 2010, while Petitioner was housed in FCI-McKean, Incident Report No. 2025558 was issued, charging Petitioner with Fighting in violation of Code 201. ECF No. 11-2 at 5 to 6. The Incident Report alleged the following:

At approximately 9:30 p.m., I was filling out log books in my office when I heard yelling outside my office door. I looked out and saw inmate Quintanilla, Juan, #55904-112, striking inmate [name and Register Number omitted], with a closed fist in the face and body. I ordered Quintanilla to stop and he complied.

ECF No. 11-2 at 5.

The Incident Report was delivered to Petitioner on June 8, 2010, at approximately 10:00 a.m. ECF No. 11-2 at 5. Upon delivery of the Incident Report, Petitioner was advised of his right to remain silent during the disciplinary process. When asked if he wanted to make a statement, Petitioner indicated that the other inmate started fighting with him and a third inmate over four books of stamps. Petitioner indicated that the other inmate started the fight and hit Petitioner and the third inmate. Petitioner made no reference to videotape evidence. He did not request any staff or inmate witnesses. ECF No. 11-2 at 6. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Incident Report was referred to the Unit Discipline Committee ("UDC") for an initial hearing. ECF No. 11-2 at 6.

On June 9, 2010, the UDC convened for an Initial Hearing for Incident Report No. 2025558. ECF No. 11-2 at 5. When asked if he wished to make a statement, Petitioner stated, "I was not fighting. I have no problem. Watch the video." At the conclusion of the hearing the UDC referred the Incident Report to the DHO for final disposition. The UDC recommended that Petitioner lose GCT and be subjected to disciplinary segregation if he were found guilty. ECF No. 11-2 at 5. Petitioner was advised of his rights at the Discipline Hearing. ECF No. 11-2 at 8. Petitioner waived his right to a staff representative and he requested no witnesses. ECF No. 11-2 at 10.

The DHO hearing was conducted on June 18, 2010. ECF No. 11-2 at 12 to 14. Petitioner confirmed that he waived his right to witnesses and the services of a staff representative. ECF No. 11-2 at 12 to 13. He told the DHO that the other inmate owed him four books of stamps. When Petitioner asked for the stamps, the other inmate hit him. Petitioner stated that he never fought back. ECF No. 11-2 at 12. According to the Respondents, at no point during the DHO hearing did Petitioner refer to videotape evidence. ECF No. 11 at 4. However, Petitioner contends that he did request the DHO to watch the video surveillance. ECF No. 14 at 6. ("Petitioner also requests to the DHO while in the hearing to 'Please Watch The Video, Before You Proceed With The Hearing; but the DHO simply said: IT IS NOT NECESSARY.'") (sic passim) (emphasis deleted). We do not herein resolve this conflict but will accept, for the sake of discussion, the Petitioner's version as true, i.e., that he did request the DHO to view the surveillance tape but that the DHO refused to do so.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the DHO determined that Petitioner committed the prohibited act as charged. The DHO's decision was based upon the written statement of the reporting staff member. According to the written statement, the reporting staff member was in his office on June 7, 2010, at about 9:30 p.m. when he heard yelling outside his office door. He looked out and saw Petitioner striking the other inmate with a closed fist in the face and body. The reporting staff member ordered Petitioner to stop and Petitioner complied with the order. ECF No. 11-2 at 13. The DHO noted Petitioner's statement that the other inmate struck him, and that Petitioner allegedly never fought back. It was also noted that Petitioner denied fighting.

The DHO gave little weight to Petitioner's defense. It was noted that Petitioner presented no documentary evidence or witness testimony to support his defense. The DHO explained that he gave greater weight to the eyewitness account of the reporting staff member indicating that he observed Petitioner striking the other inmate in the face and body with his fist. Absent from the record was any evidence that the reporting staff member, the investigating Lieutenant, or any member of the UDC were prejudiced against Hispanic inmates or Petitioner in particular, or were otherwise not impartial. At no point during the hearing did Petitioner impugn the impartiality of the DHO. ECF No. 11-2 at 12 to 14.

The DHO imposed the following sanctions: (1) 15 days disciplinary segregation and (2) the disallowance of 27 days of GCT. ECF No. 11-2 at 13. The DHO explained that by fighting, Petitioner revealed his willingness to break the rules for his own personal satisfaction. It was explained that misbehavior of this nature impaired the ability of staff to maintain a safe and secure facility. The DHO advised that a hostile, physical or verbal engagement between two inmates could result in an inmate becoming seriously injured. It was observed that if either Petitioner or the other inmate had been seriously injured, FCI-McKean would be faced with an unnecessary financial burden. It was explained that the sanctions were imposed to punish ...


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