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King v. Los Angeles County Sheriff

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

January 23, 2015


Kevin W King, Petitioner, Pro se, Los Angeles, CA.

For Los Angeles County Sheriff, Respondent: Amber A Logan, Nelson and Fulton, Los Angeles, CA.



This Report and Recommendation is submitted to the Honorable Andrew J. Guilford, United States District Judge, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. ยง 636 and General Order 05-07 of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.


On June 10, 2014, Kevin William King (hereinafter referred to as " Petitioner"), who is proceeding pro se, filed a document entitled " Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus" (hereinafter " Petition" or " Pet"). As discussed below, Petitioner alleges that his due process rights were violated when he was placed in disciplinary segregation, allegedly without a proper hearing, while he was in pre-trial custody at a jail administered by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. On July 21, 2014, Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss the Petition (hereinafter " Motion to Dismiss" or " MTD") on the grounds that: (1) Petitioner failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing the Petition, and that (2) the Petition is moot because Petitioner has been released from custody and will not suffer any ongoing " collateral consequences" from the time he was in disciplinary segregation. On August 10, 2014, Petitioner filed an Opposition to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss (hereinafter " Opposition" or " Opp"). On August 19, 2014, Respondent filed a Reply to Petitioner's Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss (" Reply").

Briefing having now been deemed completed, it is recommended that the Petition be denied and this case be dismissed.


A. Petitioner's Arrest, Detention, Segregation, and Release.

At the time Petitioner filed the instant Petition on June 10, 2014, he was apparently in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles (hereinafter " the Jail"). (See, e.g., Petition at 2; Motion to Dismiss, Declaration of Eliel Teixeira, Deputy Sheriff, at page 6 attached [hereinafter " Sheriff's Declaration" ].)

The Sheriff's Declaration attached to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss states that Petitioner was arrested by the Santa Monica Police on January 11, 2014; and on January 12, 2014, he was transferred to the custody of the Los Angeles County Jail and held in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. (See MTD, Sheriff's Declaration attached.) Petitioner states that his " charge of violating California Penal Code § 666(a) is punishable by 1 year in a County Jail or [sic] pursuant to Penal Code § 1170(h) [sic]." (See Petition at 8.) Thus, it appears that Petitioner was in pre-trial detention facing a charge of petty theft with three or more prior petty theft convictions. (See P.C. § 666(a).) Petitioner states that his Superior Court case number was " SA086218." (Petition at 4.)

An exhibit attached to the Petition bears a heading reading " Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Inmate Discipline Report -- Narrative" (hereinafter " Discipline Report"; see Petition, Exhibit 2); and that Discipline Report relates how, on May 16, 2014, while Petitioner was being transported to the Jail law library, he became uncooperative and refused to comply with orders from jail guards. (See Petition, Exhibit 2.) The Discipline Report states that " I/M King refused to stand up and be escorted to 4500 module pending DRB review." (Petition, Exhibit 2.) Petitioner declares in a Declaration in support of his Opposition to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss that the " 4500 module" is where inmates are held for disciplinary segregation at the Jail. (See Opposition, Declaration at 7.) The Discipline Report states that " [d]ue to I/M King's disruptive behavior he delayed operations in the law library, main hallway, and the 3000 floor for approximately two hours." (Petition, Exhibit 2 at 1.)

It appears that Petitioner was in disciplinary segregation from May 16, 2014 until at least June 10, 2014, because Petitioner states in the Petition, which was filed on June 10, 2014, that he " is currently in disciplinary segregation incident to his [sic] May 16, 2014 placement therein." (Petition at 4.) The Sheriff's Declaration declares that Petitioner was released from " custody" on July 14, 2014. (See MTD, Sheriff's Declaration at 6.) The Court is uncertain exactly how long Petitioner remained in disciplinary segregation, or if he remained in disciplinary segregation until his release from the jail on July 14, 2014; and apparently neither Petitioner nor Respondent provide these details. The Court is also uncertain about what became of the charges that Petitioner was facing, and whether they were dismissed or are still pending.

B. Petitioner's Arguments for Habeas Relief .

Petitioner complains that he was placed in disciplinary segregation on May 16, 2014 without a proper administrative hearing and that his due process rights were violated. (See Petition at 4, 12.) Petitioner complains that his requests to Jail officials for " inmate complaint forms" were refused or ignored. (See Petition, Exhibit 1 at 2.) He complains that he has made " diligent and reasonable efforts to exhaust his administrative remedies regarding the disciplinary segregation, but jail staff have " precluded" him from doing so. (See Petition at 3-4.)

Petitioner argues that, due to the jail officials' obstruction, he " is excused from the exhaustion requirement." (Petition at 4, citing Nunez v. Duncan, 591 F.3d 1217, 1224, 1226, 1231 (9th Cir. 2009) and Sapp v. Kimbrell, 623 F.3d 813, 822 (9th Cir. 2010).) Petitioner also complains that, " [a]s a pretrial detainee, the Petitioner 'may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of law.'" (Petition at 5, citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 n. 17 (1979) and Thompson v. Los Angeles, 885 F.2d 1439, 1447 (9th Cir. 1989).) Petitioner also argues that he has a right to a disciplinary hearing pursuant to Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-66 (1974). (Petition at 10.) Petitioner goes on to complain that three Jail officials that he complained to " were recklessly indifferent to the Petitioner's right against punishment via disciplinary segregation"; and he states that " [r]eckless indifference is sufficient to satisfy the necessary showing of deliberate indifference." (Petition at 6, citing Redman v. County of San Diego, 942 F.2d 1435, 1443 n.10 (9th Cir. 1990).)

Petitioner argues that his placement in disciplinary segregation has ongoing " collateral consequences" for him because it may ultimately lead to an increased sentence above what he might have received if he had not been placed in disciplinary segregation (see Petition at 8-10); and he argues that " habeas corpus jurisdiction exists when a petitioner seeks expungement of a disciplinary finding from his record if expungement will lead to less time imprisoned." (Opposition at 4, citing Bostic v. Carlson, 884 F.2d 1267, 1269 (9th Cir. 1989).) Petitioner also argues that he " is in danger of an enhanced time of incarceration pursuant to California Penal Code § 4019(c) because the Petitioner was punished via disciplinary segregation and his institutional record so reflects"; and he claims that " Penal Code § 4019 'effects a decrease in the period of [defendant's] incarceration.'" (Opposition at 4-5, citing People v. Voravongsa, 129 Cal.Rptr.3d 1, 123 (2011).) Petitioner claims that " [in this case the collateral consequence under § 4019(c) against Petitioner is mandatory because such statute consists of 'explicit mandatory language' mandating such consequence as a matter of federal due process." (Opp at 5, citing James v. Rowland, 606 F.3d 646, 656-57 (9th Cir. 2010).) Petitioner cites Spencer v. Kemma, 532 U.S. 1, 7 (1998) for the proposition that " [w]here a petitioner shows that there is a collateral consequence for the restraint of a constitutional guarantee a habeas action is not render[ed] moot when restraint is lifted." (Opposition at 4.)

Petitioner states that he seeks: (1) immediate release from disciplinary segregation; (2) a " declaratory statement" declaring that his segregation was with the intent to punish; and (3) a " declaratory statement" that his " disciplinary segregation [is] a violation of the pretrial detainee right against punishment absent prior adjudication of guilt." (Petition at 10-11.)

C. Respondent's Arguments for Dismissal.

Respondent argues that dismissal is warranted because: (1) Petitioner has not exhausted his administrative remedies; (2) Petitioner has been released from the custody of the Los Angeles County Jail, rendering the Petition moot; and (3) " Petitioner does not identify any 'collateral consequences' of the discipline imposed by the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail, sufficient to satisfy Article III's case-or-controversy requirement." (See MTD at 1-2.) Respondent argues that " [b]ecause King is no longer serving any disciplinary punishment, and is in fact, no longer in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, his habeas corpus petition is moot." (MTD at 2.)

Respondent cites Wilson v. Terhune, 319 F.3d 477, 479 (9th Cir. 2003) for the proposition that when the punishment imposed as a result of a disciplinary action has either been withdrawn or completed, a habeas petition concerning that discipline is moot. (MTD at 3-4.) Respondent argues that, under Wilson, the presumption of collateral consequences applies only to criminal convictions, but does not apply to prison disciplinary actions. (MTD at 4, citing Wilson, 319 F.3d at 480.) Furthermore, Respondent argues, the burden is on Petitioner to demonstrate that an Article III " case or controversy" exists. (MTD at 4, citing Wilson, 319 F.3d at 481.) Respondent argues that a federal habeas action is improper where a disciplinary proceeding will not ultimately alter the duration of an inmate's confinement; and Respondent argues that such a disciplinary action does not affect the classification, or institutional status, or housing assignments, or privileges of an inmate if he should be re-incarcerated. (MTD at 4, citing Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th Cir. 2003) and Johnson v. Gower, 2013 WL 3332810 (E.D. Cal. July 1, 2013).)


A. Applicable Federal Law, Analysis.

A federal habeas court " shall entertain an application 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 law or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The writ of habeas corpus provides a remedy for prisoners in custody to challenge the fact or duration of their confinement, and to have their conviction overturned and to be re-tried or released from custody. See, e.g., Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484-85 (1973) (comparing 28 U.S.C. § § 2241 and 2254); Crawford v. Bell, 599 F.2d 890, 891 (9th Cir. 1979) (" [a]ccording to traditional interpretation, the writ of habeas corpus is limited to attacks upon the legality or duration of confinement") (citing Preiser). However, habeas corpus is not available to challenge " conditions" of an inmate's confinement that do not result in any impact on the legality or duration of that confinement. See Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th Cir. 2003) (" habeas jurisdiction is absent, and a [civil rights] action proper, where a successful challenge to a prison condition will not necessarily shorten the prisoner's sentence").

Furthermore, as required by Article III of the United States Constitution, federal court jurisdiction is limited to the adjudication of " actual" cases and " live" controversies. See Lewis v. Continental Bank Corp., 494 U.S. 472, 477 (1990). When a federal court lacks the power to grant the relief requested, the case is moot; and a federal court lacks jurisdiction over moot questions. See North Carolina v. Rice, 404 U.S. 244, 246 (1971) (per curiam); Picrin-Peron v. Rison, 930 F.2d 773, 775 (9th Cir. 1991).

" An incarcerated convict's [] challenge to the validity of his conviction always satisfies the case-or-controversy requirement, because the incarceration (or the restriction imposed by the terms of [] parole) constitutes a concrete injury, caused by the conviction and redressable by invalidation of the conviction." Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 7 (1998). " A habeas petition challenging the underlying conviction is never moot simply because, subsequent to its filing, the petitioner has been released from custody." Wilson v. Terhune, 319 F.3d 477, 479 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation and internal punctuation omitted). However, " [o]nce the convict's sentence has expired . .., some concrete and continuing injury other than the now-ended incarceration or parole -- some 'collateral consequence' of the conviction -- must exist if the suit is to be maintained." Spencer, 523 U.S. at 7 (citation omitted); see also Wilson, 319 F.3d at 479 (some " collateral consequence" of the conviction must exist in order for a habeas suit to be maintained after the petitioner has ben release from custody) (citing Spencer). Where a petitioner does not challenge either a current or expired sentence, but only challenges an expired disciplinary sanction, such a petition is moot unless the petitioner can show that he suffers some ongoing " collateral consequence" from the expired disciplinary sanction. See Wilson, 319 F.3d 477, 482-83 (9th Cir. 2003) (holding that challenge to expired disciplinary sanctions is moot absent showing of collateral consequences). See also Khan v. Sanders, No. CV 07-4465-PSG (JC), 2010 WL 4923998, at *4 (C.D. Cal. 2010) (finding that claim challenging imposition of disciplinary sanction, which did not allege any loss of good time credits, is moot where punishment has been completed and petitioner has not shown any collateral consequences from such punishment) (citing Wilson).

In light of all of the foregoing, the Ninth Circuit has held that " the presumption of collateral consequences does not apply to prison disciplinary proceedings." Wilson, 319 F.3d at 480. Rather, the question is whether the habeas petitioner " has failed to allege a collateral consequence sufficient to meet the case-or-controversy requirement." Wilson, 319 F.3d at 481 (citing Spencer, 523 U.S. at 14-16).

Here, Petitioner does not convincingly show that he will suffer any future " collateral consequence" as a result of what was apparently around a two-month confinement in disciplinary segregation at the Jail while he was a pre-trial detainee. The section of the California Penal Code cited by Petitioner, P.C. § 4019, is entitled " Application of section to certain prisoners; work performance and good behavior time credit"; and P.C. § 4019(a) sets forth, inter alia, when the provisions of § 4019 apply to prisoners confined in or committed to a county jail. See P.C. § 4019(a). The section goes on to state that " [f]or each four-day period in which a prisoner is confined in or committed to a facility as specified in this section, one day shall be deducted from his or her period of confinement unless it appears by the record that the prisoner has not satisfactorily complied with the reasonable rules and regulations established by the sheriff, chief of police, or superintendent of an industrial farm or road camp." P.C. § 4019(c). The purpose of Penal Code § 4019 is to maintain discipline in the jails by encouraging good behavior with the reward of " good time credits." See People v. Engquist, 218 Cal.App.3d 228, 230 (1990); People v. Ureno, No. H 030304, 2007 WL 1556586, at *4 (Cal.Ct.App. May 30, 2007) (unpublished). However, as set forth in P.C. § 4019, the award of such good time credits is available " when a prisoner is confined in or committed to a county jail ... including all days of custody from the date of arrest to the date on which the serving of the sentence commences, under a judgment of imprisonment []." P.C. § 4019(a)(1). In other words, the award of good time credits for detention after an arrest under P.C. § 4019 is only applicable where a defendant is eventually tried, convicted, and sentenced. See, e.g., People v. Lara, 54 Cal.4th 896, 903 (2012) (pre-sentence conduct credits pursuant to P.C. § 4019 are awarded at sentencing); People v. Caddick, 160 Cal.App.3d 46, 50-53 (1984) (pre-trial detainees and convicts serving sentences are not " similarly situated" for purposes of award of good time credits).

Petitioner apparently argues that, if not for his placement in disciplinary segregation, he would have accrued more " good time credits" and secured an earlier release from custody. Petitioner also apparently argues that, if and when he is re-incarcerated, the record of his prior pre-trial disciplinary segregation will somehow affect the length or duration of his sentence. The Court finds no support for either argument in California law; and, even if correct, Petitioner's claims are now moot, since Petitioner has been released from custody, and the award of good time credits now would have no impact on the fact or duration of Petitioner's expired confinement. See Wilson, 319 F.3d at 482 (where disciplinary punishment had been completed, and petitioner offered only vague, speculative, and unsupported allegations of continuing collateral consequences from disciplinary punishment, petitioner had failed to satisfy case-or-controversy requirement and case was moot).

Perhaps complicating the issue, though, is Petitioner's pre-trial status and the question of whether Petitioner is out on bail now and is still facing the same charges that he was being held to answer for earlier. Arguably, an issue may be presented as to whether Petitioner would be entitled to good time credits if he is eventually tried and convicted on the same charges that he was facing when he was detained in the Jail (or if he has already been tried and convicted on those charges). However, it is Petitioner's burden to rebut the presumption of continuing collateral consequences; and Petitioner has made no showing, nor offered any facts, that would rebut the presumption here that no collateral consequences persist despite Petitioner's release from custody. In particular, Petitioner has made no showing that his pre-trial confinement in disciplinary segregation will have a negative impact at some future sentencing hearing because it is " on his institutional record"; and thus Petitioner has not rebutted the presumption that disciplinary proceedings carry no collateral consequences. See Wilson, 319 F.3d at 480 (presumption of collateral consequences does not apply to disciplinary proceedings). See also Munoz v. Rowland, 104 F.3d 1096, 1098 (9th Cir. 1997) (fact that petitioner, due to prior finding of gang affiliation, may be placed in SHU upon re-entry into prison system does not qualify as collateral consequence nor overcome mootness of habeas petition due to release from custody).

Lastly, because Petitioner's release from disciplinary segregation has mooted his claim regarding good time credits, it must also follow that Petitioner's claims of due process violations regarding his placement in disciplinary segregation are moot as well. See, e.g., Munoz, 104 F.3d at 1098 (finding that release from custody that mooted habeas petition regarding confinement in segregated housing unit also mooted due process claims regarding accuracy of SHU classification). Similarly, since the Petition is moot, this Court need not consider Respondent's argument that Petitioner failed to administratively exhaust his claims before filing the Petition. See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2) (habeas petition may be denied notwithstanding failure to exhaust).


For the foregoing reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the District Court issue an Order: (1) accepting and adopting this Report and Recommendation; (2) denying the Petition; and (3) dismissing this case.

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