FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding in propria persona with an application for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges a prison disciplinary conviction that resulted from a rules violation report issued against him on June 1, 2004, while he was imprisoned at California State Prison, Solano. Petitioner seeks relief on due process grounds, claiming that (1) he was improperly denied an "investigative employee;" (2) he was improperly deprived of information that would have enabled him to call relevant witnesses at his disciplinary hearing; (3) the rules violation report did not contain an assessment of whether petitioner's "paranoia, depression or other mental disorder" contributed to any misconduct; (4) his conviction is not supported by sufficient evidence; and (5) the reporting officer's demands that petitioner accept a cellmate without allowing him an opportunity to talk to the potential cellmate in advance violates state regulations and created a safety risk to petitioner and the institution. Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned recommends that petitioner's application for habeas corpus relief be denied.*fn1
On June 1, 2004, Correctional Officer K. Stephens wrote a rules
violation report charging petitioner with "refusing a cell move" in
violation of Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3005(b), a serious Division F
offense.*fn2 Am. Answer, Ex. 3 at 2.*fn3
Officer Stevens alleged that:
On June 1, 2004, at approximately 1545 hours, I gave [petitioner] a direct order to take a cellmate based on his double cell status per ICC. [Petitioner] was ordered to cell with an inmate he is compatible with per his present ASU status. [Petitioner] refused that ordered [sic] when he stated, "I'm not refusing, but I don't know anyone in here I can live with." I told [petitioner] that I had three or four different inmates he would be compatible with. [Petitioner] responded, "I can't live with them!" [Petitioner's] refusal to double cell continues to contribute to Administrative Segregation's inability to maintain available bed space. At the time of [petitioner's] refusal, there was only one bed available in ASU Building #10. [Petitioner] is a participant in the Mental Health Services Delivery System at the CCCMS level of care. [Petitioner] is aware of this report.
The disciplinary hearing on the rules violation report commenced on July 23, 2004. Id. at 4. The hearing was not conducted within thirty days from the date petitioner was provided with a copy of the rules violation report, in violation of prison regulations. Id. However, petitioner "did not object to proceeding with the hearing." Id. Petitioner was advised of the charges against him and the purpose of the hearing. Id.
Although petitioner is a participant in the Mental Health Service Delivery System, he was not referred for a mental health assessment prior to the disciplinary hearing because the rules violation report did not describe evidence of "bizarre, unusual, or uncharacteristic behavior" at the time of the charged incident. Id. Petitioner requested the services of an investigative employee. Id. This request was denied because "the complexity of the issues does not require further investigation" and "the housing status did not preclude [petitioner] from adequately presenting a defense . . . ." Id. Petitioner waived the assistance of a staff assistant. Id. at 5.
Petitioner pled not guilty to the charge against him, stating,
I simply said I will talk to whomever you want me to talk to. He did mention he had some people in mind. I told him I would talk to them. Yes, he did say he would talk to them for me, then he left. I told him I would still like to talk to them before they come into the cell. I can't just take someone on his word. He can't determine if I can live with someone or them with me. I just want to talk to them.
Id. at 4. Petitioner's request that Officer Stephens be called as a witness was granted. Id. Petitioner questioned Officer Stephens, as follows:
Q-1) Do you recall the names of the inmates you had for me to house with? A-1) I do not recall all of them, I know it was cell #212 and Williams in 120. Q-2) Didn't I say I'll talk to who ever you have? A-2) I don't recall you saying that. Q-3) Did you ask if I wanted to talk to the guys that were compatible with me? A-3) No, I didn't, I told you I would talk to them for you.
Id. The hearing officer questioned Officer Stephens, as follows:
Q-1) In your report you wrote [petitioner] stated, 'I'm not refusing, but I don't know anyone in here I can live with.' Is that a correct statement? A-1) I told [petitioner] I would talk to 212 or 120. [Petitioner] stated I don't know if I can live with them. Q-2) Did [petitioner] offer anyone he could house with? A-2) No, he did not.
Id. The hearing officer asked petitioner whether he understood that once he was approved for a double cell by the Classification Committee, he was "expected to keep a cellie" and that "it was his responsibility to work with staff and find a cellmate." Id. at 3. Petitioner responded, "Yes, guess [sic], I'm aware of that." Id.
Petitioner was found guilty of the Division F offense of "refusing a cell move." Id. The decision was based on the rules violation report and the evidence introduced at the disciplinary hearing. Id. Because the hearing was not conducted within thirty days from petitioner's receipt of the rules violation report, petitioner was not assessed a loss of time credits. Id. However, "all other authorized disciplinary actions" were imposed. Id.
On August 12, 2004, petitioner filed an administrative appeal of his disciplinary conviction. Am. Answer, Ex. 4 at 2. The appeal was denied on November 12, 2004. Id. at 3. Petitioner subsequently filed a second level appeal, which was denied on November 12, 2004. Am. Answer, Ex. 5. Petitioner then filed an appeal at the district level, which was denied on February 16, 2005. Am. Answer, Ex. 6.
On May 10, 2005, petitioner challenged his disciplinary conviction in a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in the Solano Superior Court. Am. Answer, Ex. 7. That petition was denied on the basis that petitioner had failed to demonstrate he exhausted all available administrative remedies. Id. Petitioner subsequently filed habeas petitions in the California Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court. Am. Answer, Exs. 8, 9. Those petitions were summarily denied. Id.
A. Standards for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
Federal habeas corpus relief is not available for any claim decided on the merits in state court proceedings unless the state court's adjudication of the claim:
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence ...