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Edwards v. Farley

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 21, 2016

GABRIEL EDWARDS, Petitioner
v.
ROBERT L. FARLEY, WARDEN, [1] Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge.

         Presently before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by petitioner Gabriel Edwards (“Edwards”), an inmate formerly confined at the United States Penitentiary, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (“USP-Lewisburg”). (Doc. 1). Edwards contends that his due process rights were violated in the context of a disciplinary hearing held at USP-Lewisburg. The petition is ripe for disposition and, for the reasons that follow, will be denied.

         I. Background

         On February 13, 2015, while incarcerated at USP-Lewisburg, Edwards was charged in incident report number 2682784 with conduct disruptive to the security of the institution, in violation of Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) prohibited acts code section 299, tampering with a locking device, in violation of code 208, engaging in a group demonstration, in violation of code 212, and refusing to obey an order, in violation of code 307. (Doc. 1-1 at 2; Doc. 6-2 at 11, Incident Report). The incident is described as follows:

On February 13, 2015, at approximately 10:07 a.m., Inmate Edwards, Gabriel #26282-018, had barricaded himself in B-115. This inmate was unresponsive to staff directive to remove the covering of his window and remove the objects placed in front of his food slot. This inmate could not be observed or approached safely by staff, and refused all staff directives. This inmate was one of 36 inmates involved in this group demonstration that resulted in an emergency response to contain the situation. This inmate was removed from his cell after chemical agents and less lethal munitions were deployed into the cell.

(Doc. 6-2 at 11, Incident Report).

         On March 24, 2015, Edwards appealed the disciplinary hearing officer's decision by filing Administrative Remedy Number 815112-R1 with the Regional Office. (Doc. 6-2 at 36, Administrative Remedy Generalized Retrieval). On April 23, 2015, the Regional Office denied Administrative Remedy Number 815112-R1. (Id.)

         On May 5, 2015, Edwards filed two appeals of Administrative Remedy Number 815112-R1 to the BOP Central Office, designated as Administrative Remedy Numbers 815112-A1 and A2. (Id.) On June 5, 2015, the BOP Central Office rejected both appeals. (Id. at 36-37). Edwards was informed that he did not submit the proper papers with his appeal. (Id.) The Central Office advised him to resubmit his appeal in proper form within fifteen (15) days of the date of the rejection notice. (Id.)

         On May 11, 2015, Edwards refiled his appeal, designated as Administrative Remedy Number 815112-A4. (Id. at 37). The Central Office accepted the appeal for response. (Id.) The Central Office had forty days to respond, with the option to extend that time for an additional twenty days. (Doc. 6-2, Declaration of Jennifer Knepper, BOP Attorney Advisor (“Knepper Decl.”), ¶ 8, citing 28 C.F.R. § 542.18).

         On June 1, 2015, Edwards filed another appeal of the DHO hearing, designated as Administrative Remedy Number 815112-A3. (Doc. 6-2 at 38, Administrative Remedy Generalized Retrieval). On June 23, 2015, subsequent to the filing of the instant petition, the Central Office rejected Administrative Remedy Number 815112-A3 as untimely. (Id.) The Central Office advised Edwards to resubmit his appeal within fifteen (15) days of the date of the rejection notice with staff verification stating that the untimely filing was not his fault. (Id.) There is no evidence that Edwards submitted any further appeals.

         The instant petition was filed on or about June 3, 2015. (Doc. 1). In the petition, Edwards claims that his due process rights were violated during the course of the prison disciplinary hearing. (Id.) Edwards asserts that prison staff altered the delivery date on the incident report, his requested staff representative was not present at the hearing, the reporting officer's description of the incident in the incident report is embellished and misleading, the DHO was not impartial, and BOP staff members used excessive force when they responded to the incident at issue. (Id. at 1-5). For relief, Edwards requests that the court restore his good time credits. (Id. at 5).

         II. Discussion

         A. Exhaustion

         Respondent argues that the petition should be denied based on Edwards' failure to comply with the BOP's administrative review process. (Doc. 6 at 7-9). Despite the absence of a statutory exhaustion requirement attached to § 2241, courts have consistently required a petitioner to exhaust administrative remedies prior to bringing a habeas claim under § 2241. See Callwood v. Enos, 230 F.3d 627, 634 (3d Cir. 2000); Moscato v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 98 F.3d 757, 760 (3d Cir. 1996). Exhaustion is required “for three reasons: (1) allowing the appropriate agency to develop a factual record and apply its expertise facilitates judicial review; (2) permitting agencies to grant the relief requested conserves judicial resources; and (3) providing agencies the opportunity to correct their own errors fosters administrative autonomy.” Moscato, 98 F.3d at 761-62 (citing Bradshaw v. Carlson, 682 F.2d 1050, 1052 (3d Cir. 1981)). Nevertheless, exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required where exhaustion would not promote these goals. See, e.g., Gambino v. Morris, 134 F.3d 156, 171 (3d Cir. 1998) (exhaustion not required where petitioner demonstrates futility); Lyons v. U.S. Marshals, 840 F.2d 202, 205 (3d Cir. 1988) (exhaustion may be excused where it “would be futile, if the actions of the agency clearly and unambiguously violate statutory or constitutional rights, or if the administrative procedure is clearly shown to be inadequate to prevent irreparable injury”); Carling v. Peters, 2000 WL 1022959, at *2 (E.D. Pa. July 10, 2000) (exhaustion not required where delay would subject petitioner to “irreparable injury”).

         In general, the BOP's administrative review remedy program is a multi-tier process that is available to inmates confined in institutions operated by the BOP for review of an issue which relates to any aspect of their confinement. (Doc. 6-2, Knepper Decl. ¶ 6, citing 28 C.F.R. § 542.10, et seq.). With respect to disciplinary hearing decision appeals, a BOP inmate can initiate the first step of the administrative review process by filing a direct written appeal to the BOP's Regional Director (thus bypassing the institutional level of review) within twenty days after receiving the DHO's written report. (Id.) If dissatisfied with the Regional Director's response, a Central Office Appeal may then be filed with the BOP's Office of General Counsel. (Id.) This is the inmate's final available administrative appeal. No administrative appeal is considered fully exhausted until a decision is reached by the BOP's Central Office. See Sharpe v. Costello, 2008 WL 2736782, at *3 (3d Cir. 2008).

         In the instant matter, Edwards failed to exhaust the available administrative remedies. Edwards filed his two initial administrative remedies with the Regional Office. The appeals were denied. Edwards then filed appeals with the Central Office. The Central Office rejected both appeals because they were submitted in improper form. Edwards was given an opportunity to resubmit his appeals in proper form.

         On May 11, 2015, Edwards refiled his appeal, which the Central Office accepted for review. (Id.) The Central Office had forty days to respond, with the option to extend that time for an additional twenty (20) days. Edwards filed the instant federal habeas petition before the response to his appeal was due.

         On June 1, 2015, Edwards filed another appeal of the DHO hearing. (Doc. 6-2 at 38, Administrative Remedy Generalized Retrieval). On June 23, 2015, subsequent to the filing of the instant petition, the Central Office rejected the remedy as untimely filed. (Id.) The Central Office advised Edwards to resubmit his appeal within fifteen (15) days of the date of the rejection notice with staff verification stating that the untimely filing was not his fault. (Id.) There is no evidence that Edwards submitted any further appeals.

         In response to this argument, Edwards claims that the BOP is attempting to “mislead and manipulate” the court, and has altered their records submitted to the court. (Doc. 7 at 2-3). Additionally, Edwards claims that the “issue of the Administrative Remedy should be rendered moot” because the BOP Central Office has since denied his appeal as untimely. (Id. at 3). Yet, Edwards filed his federal habeas petition prior to the Central Office's denial of his appeal. An administrative remedy appeal is not fully and finally exhausted until it has been denied by the BOP's Central ...


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