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Wells v. Sherman

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 24, 2015

BERNARD WELLS, III, Petitioner,
v.
STU SHERMAN, WARDEN, Respondent.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION REGARDING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

MICHAEL J. SENG, Magistrate Judge.

Petitioner is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Respondent, Stu Sherman, Warden of California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility ("CSATF") and State Prison, Corcoran, is hereby substituted as the proper named respondent pursuant to Rule 25(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Petitioner is currently in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation following his December 2, 2008 conviction of second degree burglary. (See Answer Ex. 1, ECF No. 12.) Petitioner is currently serving his resulting sentence of seven years in prison. (Id.)

On August 11, 2012, Correctional Officer Panduro observed Petitioner physically assault Petitioner's fiance and 14 year old daughter during a prison visitation. (Answer, Ex. 2 at 35-36.) At the disciplinary proceeding on September 14, 2012, Petitioner was found guilty of committing battery on a non-inmate and minor child, and assessed a 150 day forfeiture of good conduct time. (Id. at 40-45.) Petitioner alleges that the disciplinary decision was based on insufficient evidence and that it violated his due process rights under the 6th and 14th amendments. (Pet. at 1-6.)

On July 9, 2013, Petitioner filed a habeas petition in the Imperial County Superior Court. The petition was denied in a reasoned decision on August 12, 2013. (Answer, Exs. 2-3.)

On October 4, 2013, Petitioner filed a habeas petition in the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District. The appellate court denied the petition in a reasoned decision on October 24, 2013. (Answer, Exs. 4-5.)

Petitioner filed a habeas petition to the California Supreme Court on November 18, 2013. The petition was summarily denied on February 11, 2014. (Answer, Exs. 6-7.)

Petitioner filed the instant federal habeas petition on March 26, 2014. Respondent filed an answer to the petition on June 23, 2014. (See generally Answer, ECF No. 12.) Petitioner did not file a traverse within thirty days of the service of the answer. Accordingly the matter stands ready for adjudication.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On August 11, 2012, Correctional Officer Panduro observed Petitioner physically assault Petitioner's fiance and 14 year old daughter who were visiting him in prison. (Answer, Ex. 2 at 35-36.) The officer ended the visit because of Petitioner's aggressive behavior towards his visitors. (Id.) Petitioner was charged with violating CCR § 3005(d)(1): "battery of a non-inmate" and minor child. (Id. at 38.) Petitioner was provided a rules violation report on August 24, 2012. (Id.) Petitioner did not provide a statement upon receiving the report, but did request others be interviewed. (Id.)

Petitioner appeared at the disciplinary hearing on September 14, 2012. (Answer, Ex. 2. at 40.) In his defense, Petitioner claimed he was not guilty of the charges and requested witness testimony from his fiance and minor daughter. (Id. at 41.) The Senior Hearing Officer ("SHO"), Lieutenant P. Zills, determined that additional witness testimony was not required as the events were clearly documented in multiple officer reports and further supported by videotape evidence. (Id. at 42.)

After considering all of the relevant evidence, the SHO found that the greater weight of the evidence supported the finding that Petitioner committed the prohibited act of battery on a non-inmate and minor child. (Answer, Ex. 2 at 43.) The prison disciplinary decision was based on a report of the officer who observed the incident and the video of the incident captured on the visiting room security camera. (Id.) A sanction of disallowance of 150 days good conduct time was imposed. (Id.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

Relief by way of a writ of habeas corpus extends to a prisoner under a judgment of a state court if the custody violates the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a); 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3); Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 375 fn.7 (2000). Petitioner asserts that he suffered a violation of his right to due process as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. While the disciplinary hearing occurred at Calipatria State Prison, Petitioner was incarcerated at the CSATF at the time of filing this petition, which is ...


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