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Gonzalez v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 1, 2014

JOSE L. GONZALEZ, Petitioner
v.
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS, WARDEN J.E. THOMAS, Respondents

Jose L. Gonzalez, Plaintiff, Pro se, LEWISBURG, PA.

For Federal Bureau (of) Prisons, ET. AL, Warden J.E. Thomas, WARDEN, Defendants: Mark Morrison, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office - Prisoner, Harrisburg, PA; Melissa Swauger, U.S. Attorney's Office - Prisoner Litigation, Harrisburg, PA.

MEMORANDUM

Robert D. Mariani, United States District Judge.

Introduction

Jose L. Gonzalez, an inmate currently confined in the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, filed this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1). By Order dated April 8, 2014, this case was transferred to the Middle District of Pennsylvania as the proper venue. (Doc. 2). Gonzalez claims that his due process rights were violated during the course of a prison disciplinary hearing held on July 11, 2013, where he was found guilty of the prohibited act of " Assaulting with Serious Injury." (Doc. 9, Ex. A). Specifically, he argues that the Bureau of Prisons lacks authority to implement a monetary fine, and that there was an excessive delay in serving a copy of the incident report. (Doc. 1). Gonzalez seeks injunctive relief striking the monetary fine, and the immediate release of any seized funds. Id. For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be dismissed.

Background

On March 13, 2013, Gonzalez was served with Incident Report No. 2420518 charging him with assaulting with serious injury, a Code 101 violation. (Doc. 7, Ex. A, Att. 1). The Discipline Hearing Officer (" DHO") held a hearing on July 11, 2013. (Doc. 10, Ex. C). On July 22, 2013, the DHO issued a decision finding that Gonzalez had committed the prohibited act. Id. The DHO imposed sanctions that included: six days disciplinary segregation, one year loss of commissary privileges, and a five hundred dollar fine. Id. Gonzalez is currently serving a life sentence, and was not sanctioned with the loss of any credit toward his sentence. (Doc. 7, Ex. A).

Respondent concedes that, after the DHO issued his decision, Gonzalez pursued and exhausted all administrative remedies. (Doc. 7). On March 26, 2014, Gonzalez filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus. (Doc. 1). On June 11, 2014, Respondents filed a response, arguing that the petition should be dismissed. (Doc. 9). On June 23, 2014, Gonzalez filed a traverse, rendering this matter ripe for disposition. (Doc. 10).

Discussion

Petitions for habeas corpus relief are " quite limited" and may only be brought to challenge a conviction or a deprivation of rights that " necessarily impacts the fact or length of detention." Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532, 540 (3d Cir. 2002). Where a prisoner seeks to challenge " the conditions of his prison life, but not... the fact or length of his custody[, ]" the claim must be brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, not under a habeas petition. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499, 93 S.Ct. 1827, 36 L.Ed.2d 439 (1973). Consequently, where " a finding in plaintiff's favor would not alter his sentence or undo his conviction[, ]" the petitioner may not bring an action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Leamer, 288 F.3d at 542.

Here, the disciplinary proceeding that Gonzalez challenges did not result in the loss of any good conduct time. (Doc. 10, Ex. C). Furthermore, Gonzalez does not challenge the length or duration of his imprisonment. (Doc. 1). Rather, Gonzalez seeks " injunctive relief of obligation to pay the $500.00 and immediate release of seized funds." Id. The sanctions imposed, a monetary fine, loss of commissary privileges, and disciplinary segregation, do not impact the fact or duration of his imprisonment and thus are not properly brought under a habeas petition. See, Torres v. Fauver, 292 F.3d 141, 150-51 (3d Cir. 2002); Reynolds v. Williamson, 197 F.App'x 196, 198-99 (3d Cir. 2006). The proper remedy for the sanctions imposed here is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and therefore Gonzalez's petition for writ of habeas corpus must be dismissed.[1]

Conclusion

A review of the record reveals that the challenged disciplinary proceeding is not cognizable under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Consequently, the petition will be dismissed without prejudice as to Gonzalez's ability to raise a claim in an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. An appropriate Order will be entered.

ORDER

AND NOW, ON THIS 1st DAY OF DECEMBER, 2014, in accordance with the accompanying memorandum, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:

1. The petition for writ of habeas corpus is DISMISSED without prejudice.

2. The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE the case.


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