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Pittman v. Thomas

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

November 10, 2014

DARNELL PITTMAN, SR., Petitioner,
v.
J.E. THOMAS, Warden, Respondent

Darnell Pittman, Petitioner, Pro se, Coleman, FL.

Warden J.E. Thomas, Respondent: Mark Morrison, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office - Prisoner, Harrisburg, PA.

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, United States Magistrate Judge. CONABOY, J.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, United States Magistrate Judge.

On May 31, 2013, the Court received and filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus submitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, signed and dated by the Petitioner, Darnell Pittman, on May 27, 2013. (Doc. 1). Pittman is a federal prisoner, sentenced in June 2008 by a federal district court in Ohio to serve a 262-month term of imprisonment for robbery (carjacking) and the use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. At the time of filing, Pittman was incarcerated at USP Lewisburg, which is located in Union County, Pennsylvania.

I. Background

On January 11, 2013, Pittman received Incident Report No. 2395917, charging him with threatening bodily harm to his cellmate and to prison staff. (Doc. 10-2, at 32-34). On February 6, 2013, Pittman received a disciplinary hearing on these charges. (Doc. 10-2, at 40-49). The disciplinary hearing officer (" DHO") found that Pittman committed the charged offense and imposed disciplinary sanctions, including the disallowance of 27 days of good conduct time. (Doc. 10-2, at 43; Doc. 10-2, at 48). The DHO completed and signed his written report on March 4, 2013. (Doc. 10-2, at 49). The signature of another prison staff member indicates that it was delivered to Pittman that same day, on March 4, 2013. (Doc. 10-2, at 49).

Pittman, however, claims that the DHO report was not delivered to him on March 4, 2013. The record reflects his filing of several administrative grievances, complaining that he had not received the DHO report and requesting that it be provided to him so he could appeal it. ( E.g., Doc. 10-2, at 26-27). Pittman claims that he did not receive a copy of the DHO report until April 11, 2013. ( See Doc. 1, at 22).

Pittman then submitted an appeal from the DHO report, which was received by the BOP regional office on April 22, 2013. (Doc. 1, at 28; see also Doc. 1, at 26; Doc. 1, at 27; Doc. 10-2, at 21). For reasons that are unclear, [1] the regional office logged it as an appeal from one of Pittman's facility-level grievances regarding the delay in receiving of the DHO report, marking it as Remedy ID No. 730676-R1. ( See Doc. 1, at 28; Doc. 1, at 27; Doc. 10-2, at 21). This appeal was rejected on the ground that Pittman's facility-level grievance regarding the delay was still pending before the facility warden.[2] (Doc. 1, at 27; Doc. 10-2, at 21).

Pittman resubmitted his appeal, which was received by the regional office on May 8, 2013. (Doc. 1, at 28; see also Doc. 1, at 26; Doc. 10-2, at 21). On resubmission, the regional office logged the document correctly as an appeal from the DHO report, this time marking it as Remedy ID No. 733679-R1. (Doc. 1, at 28; Doc. 1, at 26; Doc. 10-2, at 21). On May 9, 2013, Pittman's appeal from the DHO report was rejected as untimely. (Doc. 1, at 26; Doc. 10-2, at 23). The rejection notice expressly acknowledged that the appeal had been first received on April 22, 2013, but found it to be untimely because it had been submitted approximately one month after the deadline for appeal had expired. (Doc. 1, at 26; Doc. 10-2, at 23).

Pittman did not appeal the regional office's decision to the BOP central office level, as is required for a federal inmate to exhaust administrative remedies. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.15(a).

On May 27, 2013, Pittman submitted the instant § 2241 petition to the Court for filing, alleging that he was denied the minimum procedural due process rights afforded to inmates in prison disciplinary proceedings. (Doc. 1). See generally Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974). On August 2, 2013, the Respondent answered the petition, contending that Pittman failed to exhaust his available administrative remedies prior to filing his petition, that relief on these claims is barred due to his procedural default, and that Pittman's claims are ...


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