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Rodriguez-Torres v. Benov

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 2, 2013

MOISES RODRIGUEZ-TORRES, Petitioner,
v.
MICHAEL L. BENOV, Warden, Respondent.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO DENY PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS (Doc. 1) ORDER DIRECTING THAT OBJECTIONS BE FILED WITHIN TWENTY DAYS

JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a federal prisoner proceeding in propria persona with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The instant petition was filed on January 31, 2011, challenging the results of an October 29, 2010 prison disciplinary hearing following which Petitioner was found guilty of two violations of prison disciplinary rules and sanctioned with the loss of 13 days' credits for each offense. (Doc. 1). On February 17, 2011, the Court ordered Respondent to file a response. (Doc. 5). On April 18, 2011, Respondent filed the Answer. (Doc. 9). On April 27, 2011, Petitioner filed his Traverse. (Doc. 12).

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

Writ of habeas corpus relief extends to a person in custody under the authority of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241. While a federal prisoner who wishes to challenge the validity or constitutionality of his conviction must bring a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a petitioner challenging the manner, location, or conditions of that sentence's execution must bring a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See, e.g., Capaldi v. Pontesso , 135 F.3d 1122, 1123 (6th Cir. 1998); United States v. Tubwell , 37 F.3d 175, 177 (5th Cir. 1994); Kingsley v. Bureau of Prisons , 937 F.2d 26, 30 n.5 (2nd Cir. 1991); United States v. Jalili , 925 F.2d 889, 893-94 (6th Cir. 1991); Barden v. Keohane , 921 F.2d476, 478-79 (3rd Cir. 1991); United States v. Hutchings , 835 F.2d 185, 186-87 (8th Cir. 1987); Brown v. United States , 610 F.2d 672, 677 (9th Cir. 1990). A petitioner filing a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 must file the petition in the judicial district of the petitioner's custodian. Brown , 610 F.2d at 677.

In this case, Petitioner contends that Respondent violated his rights in the conduct of a prison disciplinary hearing that resulted in the loss of 26 days' credits. Based upon such allegations, Petitioner is challenging the execution of his sentence rather than the imposition of that sentence. Thus, his petition is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. In addition, because Petitioner is currently incarcerated at Taft Correctional Institute ("TCI"), Taft, California, and that facility lies within the Eastern District of California, this Court has jurisdiction to proceed to the merits of the petition. See U.S. v. Giddings , 740 F.2d 770, 772 (9th Cir. 1984).

EXHAUSTION

Federal prisoners must exhaust their administrative remedies before bringing a habeas petition pursuant to § 2241. E.g., Laing v. Ashcroft , 370 F.3d 994, 997 (9th Cir.2004); Martinez v. Roberts , 804 F.2d 570, 571 (9th Cir. 1986). Under the doctrine of exhaustion, "no one is entitled to judicial relief for a supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed remedy has been exhausted." Laing , 370 F.3d at 998 (quoting McKart v. United States , 395 U.S. 185, 193, 89 S.Ct. 1657, 23 L.Ed.2d 194 (1969)). If a petitioner has not properly exhausted his claims, the district court, in its discretion, may either "excuse the faulty exhaustion and reach the merits, or require the petitioner to exhaust his administrative remedies before proceeding in court." Brown v. Rison , 895 F.2d 533, 535 (9th Cir. 1990). In the instant matter, Respondent does not contend that Petitioner has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies; hence, the Court will address the merits of Petitioner's contentions.

DISCUSSION

Petitioner contends that the disciplinary hearing was flawed in that (1) Petitioner was not given the requisite 24 hours' notice, and (2) insufficient evidence was presented to support the sanction of 26 days' loss of credits. (Doc. 1, p. 3). Petitioner's claims are without merit.

A. Factual Background.

On September 7, 2010, at 11:08 a.m., a search of Petitioner's cell and property found a "Mighty Bright" reading light and a red capsule labeled "W Effexor XR 150." (Doc. 10, Ex. A). Prison staff determined that the two items were "contraband" and interviewed Petitioner regarding the items. (Id.). Petitioner told officers that his former bunk mate, "Levi, " had given him the reading light and that the capsule was prescribed to him by the prison medical staff but that he had taken the capsule back to his cell rather than swallowed the pill at the time it was given. (Id.). At 7:30 a.m. on September 8, 2010, the investigation of the matter concluded with the determination that Petitioner had obtained the reading light from another inmate and that he had taken the capsule to his cell without authorization. (Id.).

Prison authorities notified Petitioner that a hearing would be conducted on the charges. (Id.). Petitioner was served with a copy of the Incident Report and advised of his rights at 12:20 p.m. on September 8, 2010. (Doc. 10, Ex. B). On September 23, 2010, a hearing was held at which Petitioner stated, "I dropped the pill on accident. I saved it in case they run out of my medication. I did get the light from my old bunk mate." (Doc. 10, Ex. B). It does not appear that any other witnesses appeared or were requested. (Id.). After the hearing, the Hearing Officer concluded that Petitioner had committed the offenses of (1) Accepting Money or Anything of Value from Another Inmate Without Staff Authorization, and (2) Misuse of ...


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