United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. GARGIULO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE COURT is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241 (ECF No. 1), filed by Quantrey Bryant.
Respondent Warden C. Nash filed a Response in Opposition (ECF
No. 11). Having considered the submissions of the parties and
the relevant legal authority, the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge recommends that the Petition be
dismissed, as Bryant's disciplinary
hearing complied with the requirements of due process.
Quantrey Bryant is currently incarcerated with the Federal
Bureau of Prisons at the Federal Correctional Complex in
Yazoo City, Mississippi (FCC Yazoo). His Petition challenges
the loss of forty-one days of good conduct time, imposed as a
sanction for possessing a hazardous tool in violation of Code
108 of the Inmate Disciplinary Code while he was at the
Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega, Alabama (FCI
Talladega). He argues that this sanction should be overturned
as his disciplinary hearing did not comport with the
requirements of due process.
is currently serving a 141-month sentence for conspiracy to
commit wire and mail fraud affecting a federally insured
financial institution, conspiracy in connection with the
acquisition of firearms, and felon in possession of a
firearm. His scheduled release date is August 23, 2024. On
February 26, 2017, while housed at FCI Talladega, officers
found two SIM cards in the pocket of a shirt hanging in his
cell's common area. He was issued an incident report for
possession of a cell phone, with the notation “2 SIM
cards” added (ECF No. 1-1). The report stated that
Bryant was in violation of Code 108.
Bryant received the report the following day, he was advised
of his right to remain silent, but he stated that the SIM
cards were his (ECF No. 11-3). After he appeared before the
Unit Discipline Committee on March 1, 2017, he was referred
to a Discipline Hearing Officer. He appeared before
Discipline Hearing Officer E. Slater on March 6, 2017. After
waiving his right to a staff representative and his right to
call witnesses, Bryant again stated that the SIM cards were
his. Based on Bryant's statement and the reports of the
officers who searched his cell, Officer Slater found that the
act was committed as charged; therefore, Bryant was
sanctioned with the loss of forty-one days of good conduct
time, as Officer Slater found that his acts “jeopardize
the security of the institution and pose a threat to the
ability of staff to provide for the safety and security of
the staff, inmates, and general public as a whole” (ECF
Nos. 1-1 & 11-1).
at the start of the hearing, Bryant also provided a written
statement, in which he indicated that the incident report
spelled his name incorrectly and included the incorrect
inmate number for his cellmate. Bryant also indicated that
the charge was incorrect, as he was not in possession of a
cell phone, just two SIM cards (ECF Nos. 1-1 & 11-1).
Officer Slater noted the mistakes, finding that the charge
should have been listed as “possession of a hazardous
tool, not possession of a cell phone.” However, he
noted that the “prohibited act code of 108 is correct.
These are typographical errors on the part of the report
writer. This in no way affected your ability to provide a
defense for the charge or your due process rights.”
Nevertheless, Bryant argues that his right to due process was
violated because the charge was incorrect. He also states
that Officer Slater was biased when she corrected the charge.
Therefore, he asserts that his right to a fair hearing was
petitioner may attack the manner in which his sentence is
being executed in the district court that has jurisdiction
over his custodian pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.
United States v. Cleto, 956 F.2d 83, 84 (5th Cir.
1992). Because Bryant is in custody at FCC Yazoo, which is in
the Southern District of Mississippi, and because he is
challenging the length of his detention through the loss of
good-conduct credits, this Court has jurisdiction over his
§ 2241 Petition and venue is proper.
prisoner may have a protected liberty interest in accumulated
good conduct credits, the revocation of those credits must
comply with only “minimal procedural
requirements.” Henson v. United States Bureau of
Prisons, 213 F.3d 897, 898 (5th Cir. 2000). Only minimal
procedural safeguards are required because “[p]rison
disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal
prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant
in such proceedings does not apply.” Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). Constitutional due
process entitles a prisoner only to (1) written notice of the
charges at least twenty-four hours in advance of the hearing,
(2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence in
his defense “when permitting him to do so will not be
unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional
goals, ” (3) the aid of a fellow inmate or a staff
member in presenting a defense if the inmate is illiterate or
the issues are complex, (4) an impartial tribunal, and (5) a
written statement from the factfinders detailing the evidence
relied upon and the reasons for the disciplinary action.
Wolff, 418 U.S. at 563-71.
due process “demands only that there be ‘some
evidence' to support a disciplinary officer's
decision.” Richards v. Dretke, 394 F.3d 291,
294 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Superintendent, Mass.
Correctional Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985)).
“Ascertaining whether this standard is satisfied does
not require examination of the entire record, independent
assessment of the credibility of witnesses, or weighing the
evidence. Instead, the relevant question is whether there is
any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion
reached by the disciplinary board.”
Superintendent, 472 U.S. at 455-56 (citations
omitted). Finally, “[t]o be entitled to habeas relief
based on a due process violation, the petitioner must show
that [he] was prejudiced by the violation. Walls v.
Chapman, 408 Fed. App'x 858, 859 (5th Cir. 2011)
(citing Hallmark v. Johnson, 118 F.3d 1073, 1080
(5th Cir. 1997)).
is not challenging the evidence against him. He also waived
the right to call witnesses and have assistance at his
disciplinary hearing, and there is no assertion that the
written statement does not satisfy due process. Therefore,
the only questions at issue are (1) whether Bryant received
adequate notice of the charges against him, given the
mischaracterization of the charge, and (2) was the hearing
respect to the notice requirement, the notice must inform a
prisoner of the charges and “enable him to marshal the
facts and prepare a defense.” Wolff, 418 U.S.
at 564. It is clear that Bryant had more than a day of
notice-he received the incident report on February 27, 2017,
but he did not have a hearing until March 6, 2017. Although
the name of the charge was changed from possession of a cell
phone to possession of a hazardous tool, the incident report
made clear that the basis of the charge was Bryant's
possession of two SIM cards. Because “both
charges were based on the same facts and subject to the same
defense . . . the notice adequately informed [Bryant] of the
charge and enabled him to ‘marshal the facts and
prepare a defense.'” Dixon v. Hastings,
202 Fed. App'x 750, 752 (5th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564)) (emphasis in original).
Therefore, Bryant received constitutionally sufficient notice
of the charges against him.
Officer Slater's impartiality, Bryant's argument
primarily relies on Officer Slater's perceived
non-compliance with the Inmate Program Statement. Bryant
alleges that this statement required Officer Slater to (1)
find that Bryant committed the act charged, (2) find that he
did not commit the act charged, or (3) refer the incident
report back for further investigation. Bryant alleges that
Officer Slater lost her impartiality when she took it upon
herself to change the charge instead of making one of the
above findings (ECF No. 1). However, a violation of prison
regulations does not per se establish a
constitutional violation that would entitle a prisoner to
habeas relief. Stiger v. Warden, 389 Fed. App'x
337, 338 (5th Cir. 2010) (citing Jackson v. Cain,
864 F.2d 1235, 1251-52 (5th Cir. 1989)). Because Bryant has
not alleged that the hearing officer “was involved in
the incident, the investigation, or the preparation of the
Incident Report, ” he has not “alleged facts to
indicate ‘any pre-existing bias or opinion which ...