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Williams v. Recktenwald

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 9, 2014

LEEROY WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
MONICA RECKTENWALD, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM

JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.

Before the court for disposition is Magistrate Judge Susan Schwab's report and recommendation (hereinafter "R&R"). (Doc. 9). The R&R proposes granting the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The respondent filed an objection to the R&R (Doc. 10), and it is ripe for disposition.[1]

Background

Petitioner Leeroy Williams (hereinafter "petitioner") is a federal prisoner incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution, Allenwood. Petitioner filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (hereinafter "section 2241") on August 27, 2013. (Doc. 1). He alleges denial of due process regarding prison disciplinary proceedings.

On February 18, 2013, the prison randomly searched petitioner's cell for contraband. (Doc. 2, Ex. A, Incident Report dated 2/18/13 at 1). The random search yielded a tattoo gun, ink and sandpaper hidden behind a light. (Id.) Accordingly, the prison charged petitioner with tattooing in violation of prison regulations. (Id.)

Petitioner attended a disciplinary hearing and admitted to owning the tattoo paraphernalia. (Doc. 2, Ex. B, Disciplinary Hr'g Report dated 2/21/13 at 1). Relying on the incident report and petitioner's statement, the hearing officer concluded that the greater weight of the evidence supported finding petitioner guilty of tattooing. (Id. at 1-3). As such, the prison sanctioned petitioner with thirty (30) days of disciplinary segregation, disallowance of twenty-seven (27) days of good time, forfeiture of sixty (60) days of nonvested good conduct time, loss of phone and visiting privileges for six (6) months and a $16.68 monetary fine. (Id. at 2).

Petitioner appealed the hearing officer's decision to the Bureau of Prison's (hereinafter "BOP") Regional Director contending that the sanctions were excessive because he was not tattooing.[2] On March 28, 2013, the Regional Director granted petitioner's appeal to the extent that the matter was remanded for further review. (Doc. 2, Ex. 4, Reg'l Hr'g Report dated 3/28/13).

On remand, the hearing officer issued an amended disciplinary hearing report finding petitioner guilty of aiding in tattooing. (Doc. 2, Ex. 5, Am. Disciplinary Hr'g Report dated 4/12/13). The hearing officer, however, did not reduce the previously administered sanctions.

Based upon these facts, petitioner filed the instant section 2241 petition on August 27, 2013, alleging denial of due process with regard to prison disciplinary proceedings. On February 20, 2014, Magistrate Judge Schwab issued an R&R. The R&R recommends granting the petition because the evidence failed to support the charge of attempted tattooing. (R&R at 16-17, 21). Rather, the evidence established that petitioner was guilty of possessing contraband. (Id. at 18-19).

Subsequent to the issuance of the R&R, the respondent filed an objection (Doc. 10), which the parties briefed bringing this case to its present posture.

Standard of Review

In disposing of objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report against which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); see also Sullivan v. Cuyler , 723 F.2d 1077, 1085 (3d Cir. 1983). The court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Henderson v. Carlson , 812 F.2d 874, 877 (3d Cir. 1987). The district court judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. Id.

Discussion

Respondent objects to the recommendation that the court grant petitioner's request for habeas corpus relief. Specifically, respondent contends that subsequent to the issuance of the R&R, the hearing officer issued a second amended hearing report on February 27, 2014. (Doc. 10-1, Decl. of Joseph McCluskey ¶ 3). The second amended hearing report found petitioner guilty of possessing contraband and credited petitioner with fourteen (14) days of good conduct time and thirty (30) days of non-vested good conducted time. (Id.). As such, ...


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