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Chestnut v. Mosley

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

March 14, 2018

Raymond Edward Chestnut, #13465-171, Petitioner,
v.
Bonita Mosley, Warden, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          SHIVA V. HODGES COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Raymond Edward Chestnut (“Petitioner”), proceeding pro se, is incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, a facility of the federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). He filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to review such petitions and submit findings and recommendations to the district judge. For the reasons that follow, the undersigned recommends the district judge dismiss the petition in this case without requiring the respondent to file an answer.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Petitioner challenges three prison disciplinary convictions related to incident report numbers 3017816, 3079797, and 3084580. [ECF No. 1]. Petitioner alleges the disciplinary hearing officer violated his due process rights when he: (a) did not give Petitioner a copy of the hearing report, (b) failed to call Petitioner's requested witnesses, (c) failed to give Petitioner an opportunity to present documentary evidence, and (d) failed to act on Petitioner's request to review video surveillance. Id. at 8-9. Petitioner alleges he was convicted on incident number 3017816 on February 13, 2018, and on incident numbers 3079797 and 3084580 on February 20, 2018. Id. at 8. Petitioner claims these convictions resulted in a loss of good time credits. Id. Petitioner admits he did not exhaust his available administrative remedies before filing his petition; however, he argues his administrative remedies were not available. Id. at 6. Petitioner seeks restoration of his good time credits. Id. at 9-10.

         II. Discussion

         A. Standard of Review

         Under established local procedure in this judicial district, a careful review has been made of this petition pursuant to the Rules Governing Section 2254 Proceedings for the United States District Court, [1] the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, and other habeas corpus statutes. Pro se complaints are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys. Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978). A federal court is charged with liberally construing a complaint filed by a pro se litigant to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). In evaluating a pro se complaint, the plaintiff's allegations are assumed to be true. Fine v. City of N.Y., 529 F.2d 70, 74 (2d Cir. 1975). The mandated liberal construction afforded to pro se pleadings means that if the court can reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which the plaintiff could prevail, it should do so. Nevertheless, the requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege facts that set forth a claim currently cognizable in a federal district court. Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).

         B. Analysis

         Petitioner filed this § 2241 petition alleging he was denied due process during his February 2018 disciplinary hearings. [ECF No. 1]. Petitioner was required to exhaust his administrative remedies within the BOP before submitting his § 2241 petition in this case. Although § 2241 does not contain a statutory exhaustion requirement, courts consistently require prisoners to exhaust their administrative remedies prior to seeking habeas review under § 2241. See Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court, 410 U.S. 484, 490-91 (1973) (requiring exhaustion in 28 U.S.C. § 2241 matter); McClung v. Shearin, 90 Fed.Appx. 444, 445 (4th Cir. 2004) (“Federal prisoners must exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing § 2241 petitions.”). This requirement of exhaustion allows prison officials to develop a factual record and “an opportunity to resolve disputes concerning the exercise of their responsibilities before being haled into court.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 204 (2007).

         Petitioner admits he did not exhaust his administrative remedies, but he argues the disciplinary hearing officer's failure to issue a report rendered his administrative remedies unavailable. Exhaustion of administrative remedies may be excused under certain circumstances, such as by showing futility. United States v. Strickland, No. 7:98-CR-82-5-F(1), 2004 WL 3414644, at *1 (E.D. N.C. Aug. 9, 2004), aff'd, 126 Fed.Appx. 116, 117 (4th Cir. 2005). Petitioner, however, has not demonstrated that his ability to complete his administrative remedies was futile. Petitioner contends the hearing officer informed him that he would issue a report no later than February 26, 2018, but the officer did not issue the report. [ECF No. at 8]. Petitioner's hearings were held on February 13 and 20, 2018, and Petitioner drafted his § 2241 petition on February 28, 2018. Id. at 8, 10. Because Petitioner admits he has not attempted to complete the administrative remedy process, id. at 6, he cannot successfully argue his administrative remedies were rejected due to lacking a hearing report. Petitioner has also failed to cite to any facts or case law to establish that a hearing officer's failure to provide a report within a certain time limit, and in this case within 13 days, excuses an inmate's failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Accordingly, Petitioner's § 2241 petition is subject to summary dismissal for lack of exhaustion.

         III. Conclusion and Recommendation

         For the foregoing reasons, the undersigned recommends the district judge dismiss the petition in the above-captioned matter without prejudice.

         IT IS SO RECOMMENDED.

         The parties are directed to note the important information in the attached “Notice of Right to File Objections to Report and Recommendation.”Notice of ...


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