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Rodriguez v. Capt. Spaulding

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 24, 2017

CAPT. SPAULDING, Respondent.


          Hon. John E. Jones III Judge

         Presently before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, filed by Petitioner Orville Rodriguez (“Rodriguez”), a federal inmate housed at the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood (“FCI-Allenwood”), White Deer, Pennsylvania. He alleges that his Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights were violated during two separate disciplinary proceedings disposing of Incident Reports 2688840 and 2693026. He is seeking expungement of the incident reports, removal of sanctions, and restoration of Good Conduct Time. (Doc. 1, p. 8).

         The petition is ripe for disposition and, for the reasons that follow, will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) disciplinary process is fully outlined in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 28, Sections 541 through 541.8 (2011).

         These regulations dictate the manner in which disciplinary action may be taken should a prisoner violate, or attempt to violate, institutional rules. The first step requires filing an incident report and conducting an investigation pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 541.5. Staff is required to conduct the investigation promptly absent intervening circumstances beyond the control of the investigator. 28 C.F.R. § 541.5(b).

         Following the investigation, the matter is then referred to the Unit Disciplinary Committee (“UDC”) for a hearing pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 541.7. If the UDC finds that a prisoner has committed a prohibited act, it may impose minor sanctions. Id. If the alleged violation is serious and warrants consideration for more than minor sanctions, or involves a prohibited act listed in the greatest or high category offenses, the UDC refers the matter to a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”) for a hearing. Id. Greatest Severity category offenses carry a possible sanction of, inter alia, loss of good conduct time credits. 28 C.F.R. § 541.3.

         A. Incident Report 2688849

         On March 3, 2015, while incarcerated at FCI-Allenwood, Rodriguez received an incident report, 2688849, charging him with “Use of the telephone for abuses other than criminal activity, ” in violation of Prohibited Act Code 397. (Doc. 8-1, p. 12). The incident is described as follows: “Inmate Rodriguez, Orville register number 17394-055 made a telephone call to phone number 716-768-1232 from phone station 5803 at 2:58 PM in unit 1B/AB. Inmate Rodriguez had this individual use their cell phone and conduct a three way phone call to several people, when the other parties answered the cell phone inmate Rodriguez was put on speaker phone and he had conversations with the individuals on the cell phone. This telephone called [sic] was monitored at 4:50 PM 3/2/15.” (Id.) Shortly thereafter, the incident was reinvestigated because it was incorrectly processed as a Code 397. (Id. at 13). On March 6, 2015, Rodriguez received a second copy of the incident report with the proper code violation, Code 297, “Use of telephone for abuses other than criminal activity.” (Id.)

         During the March 9, 2015, UDC review, Rodriguez commented, “I did not know I couldn't do this. It was out of the urgency to find out about my brother. I did not speak directly with the third person, my brother.” (Id.) The UDC referred the matter for further hearing and recommended loss of good conduct time, loss of phone privileges and imposition of a monetary fine. (Id. at 12). Rodriguez acknowledged being advised of his rights and declined the offer of staff representation and the option to call witnesses at the DHO hearing. (Id. at 15-16).

         The disciplinary hearing commenced on March 12, 2015. (Id. at 17). The DHO advised Rodriguez of his rights; Rodriquez declined staff representation, chose not to call witnesses, presented no documentary evidence, and denied the charges against him. (Id.) The DHO noted no procedural irregularities, except the delay caused by the improper code violation being listed in the initial incident report. (Id.) Rodriquez stated, “I have a brother who had a seizure and is in a medically induced coma.” “The report is true.” (Id.) Upon further questioning, “Inmate Rodriguez . . . admitted the charge. He elaborated upon his plea by stating, the report is true.” (Id. at 18).

         The DHO “believed the information provided by the staff member involved in this case, as they derived no known benefit by providing false information.” (Id.) He concluded, based upon the evidence cited in the incident report and Rodriguez's admission, that Rodriguez committed the prohibited act of Use of the telephone for abuses other than criminal. In imposing sanctions including, inter alia, disallowance of twenty-seven days of good conduct time, the DHO stated:

Rodriguez's use of his telephone privileges detracted from the intent of the Federal Bureau of Prison's telephone policy. His making of a three-way phone call threatened the security of the institution by bypassing the inmate telephone procedures established at FCI-Allenwood. Accordingly, the Disallowance of Good Conduct Time is sanctioned to punish Rodriguez for his behavior while the Loss of Privileges, (Phone and Visit) and Disciplinary Segregation (Suspend 180 Days pending clear conduct) is sanctioned in an effort to deter him from it in the future. The DHO finds the charge for code 297 to warrant the ...

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