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Solans v. Krueger

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 31, 2018

JOSEPH B. SOLANS, Petitioner,
v.
JEFFREY E. KRUEGER Warden, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         The petition of Joseph Solans for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as Incident Report Number 2983765. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Solans's habeas petition must be denied.

         A. Overview

         Federal inmates seeking to challenge the loss of good time credits in prison disciplinary proceedings on due process grounds may petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See Smith v. Bezy, 141 Fed.Appx. 479, 481 (7th Cir. 2005). In a prison disciplinary proceeding, the due process requirement is satisfied with the issuance of advance written notice of the charges, a limited opportunity to present evidence to an impartial decision-maker, a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the evidence justifying it, and “some evidence in the record” to support the finding of guilt. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570-71 (1974); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         Mr. Solans is currently confined at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Facility. The conduct giving rise to the discipline occurred while Mr. Solans was housed at the United States Penitentiary - Canaan, in Pennsylvania. On May 6, 2017, S.O. Klinger completed an Incident Report charging Mr. Solans with Code 104, possession of a weapon. The Incident Report stated:

On May 6, 2017 at approximately 12:00 pm, myself and Officer Koza performed a random cell search of cell 216. While performing the search, I located one plastic prison made weapon sharpened to a point in the mattress on the upper bunk. Sentry indicates that inmates Labuwi II, Thomas #96439-071 and Solans, Joseph #96647-038 are assigned to cell 216. I secured the weapon and cell and notified compound. The weapon and inmates were then escorted to the Lieutenant's office.

Dkt. 13-4, p. 5.

         Mr. Solans was advised of his rights on May 6, 2017. Dkt. 134-4, p. 6. He made the following statement: “I sleep on the top bunk so I'll take the hit. I've only been here since mid-March, there was no mattress in the cell when I got here, so the counselor gave me that mattress from another unit.” Id. A photo of the weapon was included with the Incident Report. Dkt. 13-4, p. 9.

         Mr. Solans was provided a copy of the Inmate Rights at Disciplinary Hearing form on May 7, 2017. Dkt. 13-4, p. 10. Mr. Solans requested staff representative Counselor Durkin and did not wish to call any witnesses on his behalf. Dkt. 134-4, p. 12.

         On May 10, 2017, an Institution Discipline Hearing was conducted. The Disciplinary Hearing Officer Report indicated that Mr. Solans waived his right to a staff representative.[1] At the beginning of the hearing, Mr. Solans was again advised on his rights. He denied the charges and made the following statement: “I got the mattress from you guys. I had to go with Durkin to get the mattress. I never did nothing but throw my sheet on it. Maybe I should've looked in it. It was a damaged mattress.” Dkt. 13-5, p. 1.

         The hearing officer documented the evidence he relied upon to reach the decision that Mr. Solans committed the prohibited act of possession of a weapon. Mr. Solan's grievous sanctions included the loss of 40 days good conduct time and the forfeiture of non-vested good conduct time of 20 days. Mr. Solans exhausted his administrative appeals regarding this matter. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         As an initial matter, Mr. Solans concedes he was afforded the due process protections found in Hill and Wolff. Dkt. 2, pp. 3-4. He also concedes the hearing officer's guilty finding was supported by some evidence in the record. Id. Based on a review of the record, the Court agrees that Mr. Solans was afforded the due process ...


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