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McRae v. Krueger

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

July 29, 2019

ANDRE L. MCRAE, Petitioner,
v.
J.E. KRUEGER, Warden, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          JAMES R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE

         Federal Bureau of Prisons inmate Andre L. McRae petitions for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging a disciplinary sanction imposed on May 9, 2018, in prison disciplinary case number 3111264. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. McRae'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 § 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. McRae is currently confined at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The conduct giving rise to the discipline occurred while Mr. McRae was confined at the United States Penitentiary (USP) in Terre Haute, Indiana. In early 2018 prison officials conducted an investigation centering on several phone calls made by Mr. McRae from the prison. Using at least nine other inmates' phone accounts, but not his own, Mr. McRae made several phone calls to I.P., listed on prison records as his fiancé, between February 1 and March 12, 2018. The calls were recorded and studied by investigators, who concluded that Mr. McRae was attempting to have synthetic marijuana mailed into the prison on legal papers.

         On March 14, 2018, investigators interviewed Mr. McRae. After he denied having anything sent into the prison, investigators discussed the details of his phone calls with I.P. Mr. McRae then stated, “I never even got any in here, but in all honesty, I did try.” He was questioned about money being sent by other inmates to I.P., to which Mr. McRae explained as made from his “selling stamps.” On April 11, 2018, SIS Tech. D. Jacks prepared incident report number 3111264 charging Mr. McRae with a prison conduct violation, Code 111A, for attempted introduction of any narcotic, marijuana, drugs, or intoxicants. The concluding paragraph of the report states:

Inmate McRae did instruct [I.P.] to purchase synthetic marijuana through the internet and persuaded her to learn to soak the synthetic into paper. She saturated thick 100% cotton paper with the synthetic and allowed it to dry. She then printed McRae's court documents on the paper using Pacer.com. [I.P.] then attempted to send the documents into the institution to McRae. Inmate McRae intended to sell the synthetic for a profit.

Dkt. 1-1, p. 4; dkt. 10-4, p. 3.

         Mr. McRae was given a copy of the incident report and advised of his rights the same day. Three days later, on April 14, 2018, Mr. McRae signed the form “Inmate Rights at Discipline Hearing.” Dkt. 10-4, p. 8. On this day, and later on April 30, 2018, Mr. McRae signed a “Notice of Discipline Hearing before the (DHO).” Id., pp. 6-7. Prior to the hearing, Mr. McRae requested Officer Piper as a staff representative and Officer Piper accepted the request.

         The disciplinary hearing was held on May 9, 2018. Mr. McRae was advised of his right to have witnesses, but he did not request any. During the hearing Mr. McRae made different requests to have two other staff members represent him, but the hearing officer denied those requests believing they were made only to disrupt and delay the proceedings. The hearing officer considered Mr. McRae's written statement, his statements to investigators, the incident report, information from the federal court PACER system, the SIS investigative report, telephone records, and email logs. The hearing officer found Mr. McRae guilty of attempted introduction of drugs. Sanctions included the loss of forty-one days of good time credit.

         Mr. McRae now brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. The respondent Warden raises a failure to exhaust administrative remedies defense.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. McRae's first ground for habeas corpus relief asserts that there was a “[f]ailure to establish a foundation of guilt, and or proof that Petitioner actually committed the offenses charged.” Restated, Mr. McRae challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. He contends that (1) the investigating officer's report is not supported by any Bureau of Prisons manual guiding the hearing officer in defining the “coded conversations” he had with his fiancé; (2) the report fails to contain parentheticals to explain what the ...


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