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Byers v. Zickefoose

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 19, 2015

ERIC BYERS, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN D. ZICKEFOOSE, et al., Respondents.

OPINION[1]

SUSAN PARADISE BAXTER, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Petitioner, federal prisoner Eric Byers, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. He is challenging a disciplinary action taken against him in which he lost good time credits. As relief, he seeks an order from this Court directing that his incident report be expunged so that he may be restored the good time credit he lost as a sanction. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is denied.

I.

A. Relevant Factual Background At the time of the incident at issue in this case, Petitioner was designated at FCI Fort Dix in Fort Dix, New Jersey. On January 20, 2012, a cell phone was discovered in Unit 5752, Room 347. The phone was sent to the Central Office Intelligence Section to be unlocked and analyzed. On March 12, 2012, Officer Pellicano, a Special Investigative Services Technician, received a report concerning the SIM card that was located in the cell phone. The report indicated that four telephone numbers found on the phone's SIM card matched numbers designated as belonging to Petitioner's family members on his approved phone list. (Resp's Ex. 2, ECF No. 12-4 at 5).

An investigation was conducted by Lieutenant Lampley of FCI Fort Dix on March 30, 2012. (Id. at 6). The investigation revealed that the following numbers had been placed on Petitioner's approved phone list and called by Petitioner from the cell phone:

1. Phone number XXX-XXX-XXXX was on Petitioner's approved phone list and labeled as his "Sibling";
2. Phone number XXX-XXX-XXXX was on Petitioner's approved phone list and labeled as his "Sibling";
3. Phone number XXX-XXX-XXXX was on Petitioner's approved phone list and labeled as his "Friend"; and,
4. Phone number XXX-XXX-XXXX was on Petitioner's approved phone list and labeled as his "Parent."

(Id. at 5, 16). The investigation also revealed that the phone number associated with Petitioner's "Parent" had made five deposits into Petitioner's inmate trust account from December 16, 2011, through March 5, 2012, for a total of $300.00. (Id. at 20). Petitioner also had called one of the phone numbers associated with a "Sibling" fifteen times through the BOP's monitored phone system between October 2, 2010, and March 11, 2011. (Id. at 14).

On March 30, 2012, Petitioner was charged with Possession, Manufacture, or Introduction of a Hazardous Tool (Aiding or Attempting), Prohibited Act Code 108A.[2] (Id. at 2). Lieutenant Lampley interviewed Petitioner and Petitioner told him that Lieutenant Davis witnessed the incident. However, when Lieutenant Davis was contacted he stated: "I don't know anything about this inmate." (Id. at 6). Lieutenant Lampley referred the matter to the Unit Discipline Committee ("UDC"). The Incident Report was given to Petitioner on that same day (March 30, 2012). (Id. at 5).

Petitioner had a hearing before the UDC on April 4, 2012. The UDC found that Petitioner committed the prohibited acts as alleged, and referred the matter to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO"). (Id. at 5-7). On that date, Petitioner signed a form acknowledging that he was advised of his rights at the DHO hearing. (Id. at 8). He stated that he did not wish to have a staff representative. He did request that Lieutenant Davis be called as a witness at the DHO hearing. (Id. at 9).

Petitioner's DHO hearing was held on April 19, 2012. (Id. at 2). The DHO read Petitioner his rights, and Petitioner stated he understood them. (Id.) Once again, Petitioner waived his right to have the assistance of a staff representative. (Id.) Although he had previously requested that Lieutenant Davis be called as a witness, at the DHO hearing Petitioner requested no witness. (Id.) When asked if he wanted to make a statement on his behalf, Petitioner stated: "XXX-XXX-XXXX, that number is not on my list. I have no knowledge of how that number was dialed from that cell phone." (Id.) After considering the evidence, including the forensic and investigative reports as well as Petitioner's statements, the DHO found that Petitioner committed the prohibited act. (Id. at 2-3). The DHO imposed the following sanctions: disallowance of 40 days of good conduct time, 15 days of disciplinary segregation, and loss of email and telephone privileges for 60 days. (Id. at 3). Petitioner was provided a copy of the DHO Report on May 25, 2012. (Id. at 4).

After having no success in his administrative remedy appeal, Petitioner, who at the time was incarcerated at FCI McKean, which is located within the territorial boundaries of the Western District of Pennsylvania, commenced habeas proceedings in this Court by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. (ECF No. 4). In relevant part, 28 U.S.C. § 2241 provides: "The writ of habeas corpus shall not extend to a prisoner unless... [h]e is in custody in violation of the Constitutional or laws or treaties of the United States [.]" 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3) (emphasis added). Petitioner contends that his due process and equal protection rights were violated during the ...


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