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Goins v. Thomas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 29, 2014

CHRISTOPHER GOINS, JR., Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN JEFF THOMAS, Respondent.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

THOMAS M. BLEWITT, Magistrate Judge.

I. Procedural Background.

On June 24, 2014, Petitioner Christopher Goins, Jr., an inmate currently confined at USP-Lewisburg in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, filed, pro se, the instant Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2241. (Doc. 1). The sole Respondent is the Warden at USP-Lewisburg, namely, Jeff Thomas.[1] Petitioner also filed a Motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. 5).

Petitioner challenges an Incident Report (#2495422) filed against him on September 23, 2013, when he was confined at USP-Lewisburg, for fighting, BOP Code 201. Petitioner claims that his due process rights were violated and, that there was insufficient evidence with respect to his disciplinary hearing and his guilty finding by the Discipline Hearing Officer "(DHO") on October 3, 2013. In particular, Petitioner states that he was not given a copy of the Incident Report 24 hours before his disciplinary hearing as required by BOP P.S. 5270.09. As a result of his disciplinary conviction, Petitioner lost 27 days good conduct time ("GCT") as one of the sanctions. Petitioner also raises constitutional claims stating that he was unlawfully made to re-start, from the beginning, the Special Management Unit ("SMU") Program at USP-Lewisburg due to his disciplinary conviction, as opposed to being made to return to Level II of the Program. Specifically, Petitioner states that as part of his disciplinary sanctions he was "remanded to repeat the entire SMU Program over for 13 more months of confinement." Petitioner claims that this amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. (Doc. 1, pp. 2 & 8). Petitioner also claims that his constitutional rights were violated after he was made to re-start the SMU Program since he had to interact in recreation cages with inmates who had higher security classifications (Level 1 and 2) than he had (Level 3), and that prison staff failed to provide proper security. Petitioner also states that this amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Thus, Petitioner also appears to raise a failure to protect claim against unnamed prison staff.

As relief, Petitioner essentially requests that this Court expunge Incident Report #2495422. Specifically, Petitioner requests this Court to restore his lost 27 days GCT, and to return him to Level III of the SMU Program. Petitioner also seeks "declaratory relief insofar as inmates with different security levels being segregated at all times and injunctive relief preventing staff from placing multiple high security inmates in a solitary recreational [pen]." (Doc. 1, pp. 8-9).

On July 31, 2014, we issued a Show Cause Order granting Petitioner's Motion to proceed in forma pauperis and directing service of Petitioner s habeas petition on Respondent. (Doc. 6). We directed Respondent to file his response to the habeas petition within 20 days of the Order and allowed Petitioner to file a Traverse 10 days after Respondent filed his response.

On August 20, 2014, Respondent timely filed his Response to Petitioners habeas petition with attached Exhibits and a copy of an unpublished opinion. (Docs. 7, 7-1 & 7-2). Petitioner did not file a Traverse and the time to do so has expired.

Petitioner's habeas petition is ripe for review. We have been assigned this case for issuance of an Report and Recommendation.

II. Factual Background.

We now detail the relevant factual background regarding Petitioners disciplinary conviction and sanctions. We also detail the facts with respect Petitioner's utilization of BOP's administrative remedies. Further, we note that Respondent has stated the complete factual background regarding Petitioner's disciplinary proceedings and conviction as well as the administrative remedy Petitioner filed and, his rendition is supported by his Exhibits. (Doc. 7, pp. 3-7 & Doc. 7-1). Further, Petitioner has not filed a Traverse and, he did not submit evidence to contest Respondent's evidence regarding the factual background of his case.

Incident Report No. 495422 was filed against Petitioner on September 23, 2013, when he was confined at USP-Lewisburg, for fighting with another person, BOP Code 201. The charge was related to a prison officer observing Plaintiff exchanging punches with two other inmates in the recreation pen. (Doc. 7-1, Romano Decl. & Att. 3).

Lt. Scott investigated the fighting incident on September 23, 2013, and indicated that Petitioner was advised of his rights, Petitioner decided to remain silent, and Petitioner's attitude was poor. Petitioner was provided a copy of Incident Report No. 2495422 on September 23, 2013. Petitioner did not request any witnesses. Lt. Scott found a factual basis for the charge against Petitioner and referred Incident Report No. 2495422 to the Unit Discipline Committee ("UDC"). ( Id. & Att. 6).

On September 24, 2013, Petitioner had an initial hearing before the UDC, and stated that he was trying to break up the fight. The UDC referred Incident Report No. 2495422 to the DHO for further action. ( Id. ).

On September 24, 2013, Petitioner received a notice of DHO hearing. Petitioner did not request a staff representative and he did not request any witnesses. Petitioner did request the video coverage of the incident at issue. Petitioner was also ...


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