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Yang v. Grounds

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 31, 2014

PAO YANG, Petitioner,
v.
RANDY GROUNDS, Warden, Respondent.

ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

SAUNDRA BROWN ARMSTRONG, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Petitioner Pao Yang, a state prisoner, filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner is challenging a prison disciplinary decision at the California Training Facility ("CTF") that resulted in his loss of time credits. On June 12, 2013, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause directing Respondent to answer the instant petition.

The parties are presently before the Court on Respondent's motion to dismiss the petition for failure to state a claim for relief. Dkt. 9. Petitioner has filed an opposition to the motion. Dkt. 10. Respondent filed a reply to the opposition. Dkt. 11. For the reasons discussed below, the Court hereby GRANTS Respondent's Motion to Dismiss.

BACKGROUND

On March 7, 2010, CTF Correctional Officer J. Gomez conducted cell searches on three different cells at CTF, including Petitioner's cell. Dkt. 1 at 1-2.[1] Petitioner claims that Officer Gomez "did not issue Petitioner a written notice (property receipt) as required nor did [Officer] Gomez notify Petitioner that contraband was taken from his cell per [Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations] § 3287(a)(4)." Id. at 2.

On March 9, 2010, Petitioner was charged with Possession of a Cellular Telephone with Head Set and Chargers as prohibited by Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations § 3006(c)(19). Id . On that same date, Petitioner received a rules violation report ("CDCR-115") which stated that "a cellular phone was discovered in his cell during [Officer] Gomez'[s] search that took place on 3/7/10." Id . According to the CDCR-115, Officer Gomez searched Petitioner's cell and discovered a "can of powder creamer" with a "hidden compartment." Dkt. 1-1 at 5. Inside that hidden compartment, Officer Gomez found "One (1) Samsung Verizon Cellular Phone, One (1) Blue Tooth Head Set, and Two (2) Samsung Chargers." Id . Officer Gomez claims that he "asked [Petitioner] and [his cell mate Inmate] Nguy whom the phone, blue tooth and chargers belonged to, and [Petitioner] admitted to owning the above-mentioned items." Id.

Petitioner now "submits under... penalty of perjury that he never stated to... [Officer] Gomez that he (Petitioner) was in possession of any cell phone." Dkt. 1 at 3. In his accompanying declaration, Petitioner adds that "[o]nce [Officer] Gomez completed his cell search, he did not state to [Petitioner] that he had found a cellular phone in [Petitioner's] cell." Dkt. 10-1 at 13-14. Petitioner claims he did admit to owning the confiscated "canned food goods, " which were considered "contraband due to inmates not being allowed to have canned' food items." Id. at 2.

On March 14, 2010, Petitioner was found guilty after a disciplinary hearing, and was assessed a credit forfeiture of thirty days. Dkt. 1-1 at 5. Petitioner contends that his right to due process was violated because Officer Gomez did not comply with prison regulations by failing to issue him a property receipt of "all contraband posing a security breach while conducting a cell search, " as required by Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations § 3287(a)(4) and CTF Operations Procedure No. 26. Dkt. 1 at 7. Because no property receipt was issued after the search on March 7, 2010, Petitioner claims he was denied the opportunity to present documentary evidence (during the disciplinary hearing) of what was actually taken from his cell at the time of the search. Id. at 9.

Petitioner filed a 602 inmate appeal challenging the guilty finding and appealing each denial to the highest level, the Director's level of review. Id. at 3.

Petitioner also alleges that he has exhausted his state court remedies by filing habeas corpus petitions in all three levels of the California State courts. All of these petitions were denied. Petitioner seeks restoration of his lost time credits and expungement of the disciplinary action.

DISCUSSION

I. Due Process

An inmate in California is entitled to due process before being disciplined when the discipline imposed will inevitably affect the duration of his sentence. See Sandin v. Conner , 515 U.S. 472 (1995). Because the discipline imposed here included the loss of time credits, due process is required by Sandin. See, e.g., Madison v. Parker , 104 F.3d 765, 769 (5th Cir. 1997) (prisoners have liberty interest in good time credits under ...


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