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Dunn v. Swarthout

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 25, 2014

JOHN DUNN, Petitioner,
v.
GARY SWARTHOUT, Respondent.

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE; DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION; GRANTING LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (Dkt. 2, 9)

JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner, a prisoner of the State of California currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison and proceeding pro se, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a disciplinary report issued by officials at his prior prison, California State Prison - Solano.[1] He originally filed this case in the Eastern District of California, but it was transferred to this Court. He has applied for leave to proceed in forma pauperis.

BACKGROUND

In 2012, Petitioner was incarcerated at California State Prison - Solano, where, following a disciplinary hearing, prison officials issued a "Rules Violation Report" ("RVR") finding Petitioner guilty of instigating a riot. He was assessed a loss of 90 days of time credits. Petitioner also alleges that this disciplinary finding led to his being denied parole. He challenged the discipline in habeas petitions to the Solano County Superior Court, the California Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court. All three petitions were denied.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

This Court may entertain a petition for a writ of habeas corpus "in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). It shall "award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto." Id. § 2243.

II. Legal Claims

As grounds for federal habeas relief, Petitioner claims that his right to due process was violated because: (1) he was not allowed to call witnesses at the disciplinary hearing; (2) an investigating prison official failed to assist him in calling witnesses; (3) there was no evidence of his guilt and the hearing officer was biased against him; and (4) he was denied a staff member to assist him. When liberally construed, these claims are sufficient to warrant a response from Respondent. See Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556-70 (1974).

III. Motion for Reconsideration

Petitioner has filed a motion to reconsider the transfer of this case from the Eastern District of California to this Court. He argues it should be transferred back to the Eastern District because the disciplinary proceedings took place at CSP Solano, which lies within the venue of the Eastern District. When, as here, a federal habeas petition is directed to the manner in which a sentence is being executed, e.g., if it involves parole or time credits claims, the district of confinement is the preferable forum. See Habeas L.R. 2254-3(b)(2); Dunne v. Henman, 875 F.2d 244, 249 (9th Cir. 1989). Here, the petition challenges disciplinary findings that resulted in Petitioner's loss of time credits and were allegedly used to deny him parole. As such, the petition challenges the execution of his sentence. As Petitioner is confined at San Quentin State Prison, which lies within the venue of the Northern District of California, this Court is the preferable forum. Accordingly, his motion for reconsideration is DENIED.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons and for good cause shown,

1. The Clerk shall serve a Magistrate Judge jurisdiction consent form, a copy of this Order, and the petition, and all attachments thereto, on Respondent and Respondent's attorney, the Attorney General of the State of California. ...


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