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Kingsberry v. Thomas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 20, 2014

TRAVIS KINGSBERRY, Petitioner
v.
J.E. THOMAS, WARDEN, Respondent

MEMORANDUM

WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Travis Kingsberry, an inmate at USP-Lewisburg in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, has filed a pro se petition under 28 U.S.C. ยง 2241 challenging two disciplinary proceedings held while he was an inmate at FCI-Beckley in Beckley, West Virginia. As a result of the proceedings, Petitioner lost credit against his sentence for good conduct time. Petitioner claims his right to due process was violated in both proceedings. Petitioner also challenges his placement in the Special Management Unit (SMU) at Lewisburg, asserting that his transfer there from FCI-Beckley violated Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policy and the Eighth Amendment.

II. Relevant Law

Federal prisoners have a liberty interest in good time credits. Lang v. Sauers, 529 F.App'x 121, 122 (3d Cir. 2013)(nonprecedential). At a disciplinary hearing that may result in the loss of good time credits, due process requires that an inmate "receive: (1) written notice of the charges at least 24 hours prior to a hearing; (2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence in his defense; (3) an opportunity to receive assistance from an inmate representative; and (4) a written statement of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action." Id. at 123 (citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-71, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974)).

Due process also requires that the Discipline Hearing Officer's (DHO's) decision be supported by "some evidence." Id. (quoting Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454, 105 S.Ct. 2768, 2773, 86 L.Ed.2d 356 (1985)). A determination of whether there is some evidence to support the decision "does not require examination of the entire record, an independent assessment of the credibility of witnesses, or a weighing of the evidence." Id. (citing Thompson v. Owens, 889 F.2d 500, 502 (3d Cir. 1989)).

III. Background

A. Incident Report No. 2347477

In an incident report, dated September 5, 2012, Petitioner was charged with fighting (a Code 201 violation) on August 8, 2012. (Doc. 13-1, ECF p. 8). On September 18, 2012, a hearing was held, (Doc. 13-1, ECF p. 13), and in a report dated November 16, 2012, the Discipline Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty. Petitioner was sanctioned by disallowance of 27 days of good conduct time and the imposition of 30-days disciplinary segregation.

In his report, the DHO listed the evidence upon which he based his decision. First, a Special Investigative Services (SIS) technician submitted a report concerning a large scale fight that began on the morning of August 8, 2012. As part of that report, the technician examined video surveillance that showed the following.

Petitioner was outside his cell on the upper tier observing two inmates fighting on the lower tier (which was part of the larger altercation). Petitioner jumped down to the lower tier and repeatedly struck one of the inmates. As Petitioner used the stairs to return to his cell, he could be observed pulling his white t-shirt outward as if looking for blood. After he returned to his cell, Petitioner then put on a khaki shirt and left the unit for work. Second, still shots from the video clearly showed Petitioner, wearing a white t-shirt, leave his cell on the upper tier, jump over the railing to the lower tier, enter the immediate area of the fight, and then walk back up the steps while looking down at his t-shirt. Third, the injured inmate described as one of his assailants a tall inmate wearing a white t-shirt who punched and kicked him repeatedly. (Doc. 13-1, ECF p. 15).

B. Incident Report No. 2350707

In an incident report, dated September 11, 2012, Petitioner was charged with possession of a weapon, fighting, and refusing an order on August 14, 2012. (Doc. 13-1, ECF p. 18). On October 2, 2012, a hearing was held, (Doc. 13-1, ECF p. 13), and in a report dated November 5, 2012, the DHO found him guilty on all three charges. On the charge of possession of a weapon (a Code 104 violation), Petitioner was sanctioned by disallowance of 40 days of good conduct time, forfeiture of 60 days of non-vested good conduct time, and 40 days of disciplinary segregation. On the charge of fighting (a Code 201 violation), Petitioner was sanctioned by disallowance of 27 days of good conduct time and imposition of 15 days of disciplinary segregation. On the charge of refusing an order (a Code 307 violation), Petitioner was sanctioned by disallowance of 14 days of good conduct time and imposition of 10 days of disciplinary segregation. (Doc. 13-1, ECF p.26).

In his report, the DHO listed the evidence upon which he based his decision. First, a correctional officer submitted a report stating that he and another officer came upon Petitioner and his cell mate on the night of August 14, 2012, and saw them fighting in their cell. They both refused orders from this officer and the other officer to stop fighting. Second, a third officer who observed the fight submitted a report confirming the first officer's report. This officer added that the cell mate said that Petitioner hit him with a combination lock in his right hand. The officer also added that another officer had searched the cell after the fight and found a bloody combination lock. Third, another officer submitted a report stating that he observed the fight and the refusal to obey orders to stop. (Doc. 13-1, ECF p. 24). Fourth, medical reports on Petitioner and his cell mate indicated that the cell mate had several lacerations to his right cheek, ...


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