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Lisenby v. Cartledge

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division

March 13, 2015

LEROY CARTLEDGE, Warden, McCormick Correctional Institution, Respondent.


DAVID C. NORTON, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") that this court deny petitioner Billy Lee Lisenby, Jr.'s ("Lisenby") request for joinder, deny Lisenby's motion for summary judgment, and grant the motion for summary judgment filed by respondent Leroy Cartledge, warden of McCormick Correctional Institution. Lisenby, who is challenging a disciplinary conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, filed objections to the R&R. For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts the R&R, grants respondent's motion, and denies Lisenby's petition.


Lisenby is an inmate currently incarcerated at the Lieber Correctional Institution within the South Carolina Department of Corrections ("SCDC"). At the time he filed his petition, he was incarcerated at McCormick Correctional Institution, and at the time of the underlying incident, he was confined at Tuberville Correctional Institution.

Lisenby's petition arises out of a disciplinary conviction at Tuberville. According to the charge filed against him, on March 30, 2009, Lisenby allegedly struck Corporal Natasha Miller ("Miller") on the left side of her face. According to Miller, Lisenby was disrespectful toward her and when she gave a directive to stop being disrespectful, he struck her. Miller prepared an incident report charging Lisenby with "Assault and/or Battery of an SCDC Employee... with Means and/or Intent to Kill or Injure."

An initial hearing was conducted on April 16, 2009. Lisenby was found guilty of the charge and sanctioned to 720 days of disciplinary detention and forfeiture of 120 days of accrued good time credits. Based on SCDC grievances that Lisenby filed following the original hearing, a rehearing on the disciplinary charge was conducted on October 26, 2009. Lisenby, his counsel substitute, and the disciplinary hearing officer were present and Miller testified via speakerphone.

At the rehearing, Lisenby admitted striking Miller but asserted that it was in response to Miller choking him. Miller denied ever touching Lisenby prior to the incident. Lisenby indicated that he provided his counsel substitute with the names of ten potential witnesses. However, his counsel substitute indicated at the rehearing that she did not receive a response from any of the witnesses. According to the disciplinary hearing officer, a copy of Miller's personnel record was available at the rehearing and showed that Miller was out of work on "I/M assault leave" from March 30, 2009 until May 16, 2009. Lisenby objected to the consideration of the personnel record on rehearing because it was not produced at the original hearing. The disciplinary hearing officer found Lisenby guilty as charged and imposed a penalty of a "verbal reprimand, 150 days loss of good time, phone, canteen & visits suspended 180 days each, 720 days disciplinary detention." The detention and sanctions were imposed "based on [Lisenby's] prior history of assaulting employees, the nature and seriousness of the offense and the extent of injury to Cpl. Miller...."

Lisenby appealed his conviction on October 27, 2009 through several grievances. Lisenby ultimately appealed grievance RCI-0917-09 through the state court system. SCDC issued its final decision at step two of the grievance phase on April 30, 2010. Lisenby filed a timely appeal to the South Carolina Administrative Law Court ("ALC"). On January 28, 2011, the ALC issued an order rejecting Lisenby's constitutional claims and affirming SCDC's final agency action. Lisenby then filed a timely appeal to the South Carolina Court of Appeals, which, following briefing by both parties, affirmed the ALC's decision. Lisenby petitioned the South Carolina Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, and the South Carolina Supreme court denied his petition on March 19, 2014.

On April 9, 2014, Lisenby filed the instant habeas petition. On June 16, 2014, Lisenby filed a motion for summary judgment. Cartledge filed a motion for summary judgment on July 3, 2014. On August 21, 2014, Lisenby filed a response. The magistrate judge issued an R&R on December 18, 2014, recommending that the court deny Lisenby's motion and grant Cartledge's motion. On January 5, 2015, Lisenby filed objections to the R&R. These matters are fully briefed and ripe for the court's review.


A. 28 U.S.C. § 2254

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 ("AEDPA") provides relief to persons in custody pursuant to the judgment of a state court on the ground that the custody is "in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). The statute requires a petitioner to exhaust all available remedies in state court before the federal court may consider a claim. § 2254(b)(1)(A).

When a § 2254 petitioner's habeas claim has been adjudicated on the merits in state court proceedings, the federal review court cannot grant relief unless the state court's adjudication "resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States" or "resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable ...

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