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Curtis James Lay v. Richard Ives

February 3, 2012

CURTIS JAMES LAY, PETITIONER,
v.
RICHARD IVES, WARDEN, RESPONDENT.



FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

I. INTRODUCTION

Curtis James Lay, a federal prisoner in custody of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), proceeds pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Lay challenges the outcome of a 2009 prison disciplinary proceeding for which he lost 41 days Good Conduct Time.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 13, 2009, while incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg, Virginia, Lay was served with an incident report charging him with Assaulting Any Person. The Description of the Incident provided:

On January 22, 2009, at 10:30 am, inmate Lay, Curtis, #18851-016 was involved in a serious Assault with inmate Roper, Sammie, #70123-054 in Unit D-North, Cell # 46. A review of the CCTV revealed that on January 22, 2009, at 10:00 a.m., Inmate Lay, Curtis approached inmate Roper in the common area of Unit D-North and they walked to cell 46. The CCTV revealed minutes later inmate Williams entered cell # 46. Seconds after the cell door is seen swinging open and you can see a flash of bodies. Inmate Roper states he was held from behind by an unknown inmate while inmate Lay, Curtis # 18851-016 assaulted him. Inmate Roper states, shortly thereafter, the unknown inmate placed him in a head lock while inmate Lay struck him in the face with a hard object causing him to become unconscious. The CCTV confirmed, inmate Williams, Lay and Roper was the only inmates [sic] in the cell at the time of the Assault. When the Officer arrived she observed inmate Lay and Williams standing over inmate Roper as inmate Roper laid unresponsive on the floor. During the assault inmate Williams sustained an abrasion to his left middle finger. Inmate Roper was medically assessed for multiple lacerations to his upper and lower lip, fractured nose, hematoma to his forehead, exophthalmos to his left eye and lacerations to both eye braw [sic]. Inmate Roper had to be rushed to the local hospital for further medical treatments. Inmate Lay was medically assessed for a 2 cm. laceration over the right eye, a 1.5 cm. laceration over the left eye and a superficial laceration over the left upper chest. (Attachment One to the declaration of Curtis Hise, Incident Report by K. Vaughan, SIS Lieutenant, dated and served 02/13/09.)

On February 19, 2009, Lay appeared before a Unit Discipline Committee and denied the charges. The matter was forwarded to a Discipline Hearing Officer ("DHO") for further action.

On March 6, 2009, Lay appeared before the DHO. He requested and was provided with a staff representative, Officer Holmes. Due to a discrepancy in the Incident Report and supporting documentation as to the time of the incident, the hearing was postponed to March 23, 2009 for clarification of the issue. On March 23, 2009, Lay waived his appearance before the DHO but provided a written statement that was delivered by Officer Holmes. Lay also requested that inmate Roper (the alleged victim) be called as a witness. The DHO questioned inmate Roper, who stated he did not remember anything and did not recall making any statements to investigating staff.

Considering all the available information, including the documentary evidence, investigative reports, Lay's written statement and questions, the DHO found that Lay committed the prohibited act of Assault with Serious Injury. A penalty of 41 days loss of Good Conduct Time, 45 days disciplinary segregation, and loss of social visits and commissary privileges for 6 months was assessed. Lay was served with a copy of the document notifying him of the outcome of the proceeding. He proceeded unsuccessfully through the BOP's four-level review process. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.10 et. seq. The parties agree that he properly exhausted administrative remedies before filing this suit.

III. GROUNDS FOR RELIEF

In five separate grounds for relief, Lay claims, verbatim: Ground One: Denial of Due Process of Law- Loss of (41) Days Good Conduct Time Credits. I was denied due process of law before, during, and after the prison disciplinary hearing by Captain Evans, Lieutenant Vaughan, Officer Holmes, and the Hearing Officer Mr. Hise. The incident Report was based on falsified, uncorroborated and contradicted information made in retaliation against me for insisting that I was innocent; invoking my right to remain silent; and for accusing Lieutenant Vaughan of falsifying information.

Ground Two: Due to fear of retaliation my staff representative Officer E. Holmes refused to fulfill his duties and responsibilities of assisting me in presenting the best possible defense. He abandoned me and thereby violated my right to due process of law. When Officer E. Holmes discovered that I was accusing Lieutenant Vaughan of falsifying (lying) the information in the Incident Report -That the alleged inmate victim (Roper) never made any statement to Vaughan, Officer E. Holmes refused to fulfill continue [sic] to help me to prepare the best possible defense. He abandoned me.

Ground Three: Staff representative Officer E. Holmes wilfully disregarded his duties and responsibilities as staff representative by failing to review the surveillance video (discovery material) thereby violating petitioner's rights to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Ground Four: Staff representative Officer E. Holmes violated his duties and as staff representative when he failed to obtain and consult, and review with the petitioner the investigation report for the incident thereby violating petitioner's rights to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment.

Ground Five: Staff representative Officer E. Holmes failed to ask petitioner's written questions of witnesses at the disciplinary hearing including the alleged inmate victim Sammie Roper thereby violating petitioner's rights to due process of law under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

For purposes of this opinion, Lay's grounds for relief will be addressed in a single discussion on the process due under the United States Constitution in a prison disciplinary hearing when the loss ...


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