United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
David V. Williams, Jr., Petitioner,
Warden, FCI Estill, Respondent.
REPORT OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE
F. McDonald United States Magistrate Judge.
petitioner, proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis, brings this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241 for habeas relief. Pursuant to the provisions of
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(c) (D.S.C.), the undersigned is authorized to
review such petitions for relief and submit findings and
recommendations to the District Court.
petitioner's § 2241 petition was entered on the
docket in the United States District Court for the District
of Hawaii on September 17, 2019 (doc. 1). In light of the
petitioner's transfer to the District of South Carolina,
the petition was transferred to this court by order dated
October 7, 2019 (doc. 4). By order dated November 6, 2019,
the undersigned informed the petitioner that his petition was
subject to dismissal as drafted and providing him with
fourteen days to file an amended petition to correct the
deficiencies noted in the order (doc. 20). The petitioner was
informed that if he failed to file an amended petition or
cure the deficiencies outlined in the order, the undersigned
would recommend that his petition be dismissed
(id.). Although the petitioner filed a letter with
the court, he has failed to file an amended petition within
the time provided; accordingly, the undersigned recommends
that the instant matter be dismissed without requiring the
respondent to file an answer or return.
petitioner is currently serving a 151-month sentence for Bank
Robbery by Force or Violence, which was imposed in the United
States District Court for the District of Hawaii. See
United States v. Williams, C/A No. 1:11-cr-00937-SOM-1
(D. Haw.). The petitioner contends, however, that while
serving his sentence he was injured in a fight, and the
injury caused him to develop schizophrenia (docs. 1; 1-2). As
a result of his mental illness, the petitioner takes
antipsychotic medication (docs. 1; 1-2). The petitioner
contends that between 2011 and 2019 he has had several
disciplinary infractions while incarcerated with the bureau
of prisons (“BOP”), and that all of his good time
credits have been taken away (doc. 1-2 at 2). The petitioner
indicates that this was improper because, as a diagnosed
schizophrenic, he was incompetent at the time of the
infractions and during the disciplinary hearings
(id.). The petitioner further contends that he was
not able to appeal his disciplinary charges because of his
mental illness (id. at 2, 6, 7).
One for relief in the petition is asserted as the
unconstitutional removal of the petitioner's good time
credit despite his mental illness and treatment protocol
which includes antipsychotic medication (id. at 6).
The petitioner concedes that he has not administratively
appealed Ground One within the BOP (id.). As Ground
Two for relief, the petitioner asserts that the incident
reports and disciplinary hearings were illegal because the
petitioner was on antipsychotic medication and had a
diagnosis of schizophrenia (id.). He contends that
Ground Two was not appealed administratively because of his
mental illness and “improper institution
designation” (id.). For relief, the petitioner
seeks the return of all of his good credit time, for a
sentence recalculation, and for an order releasing him from
BOP custody (docs. 1 at 3; 1-2 at 7).
undersigned has reviewed the petition pursuant to the Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District
Courts; the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of
1996 (“AEDPA”), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat.
1214; and other habeas corpus statutes. As a pro se
litigant, the petitioner's pleadings are accorded liberal
construction and held to a less stringent standard than
formal pleadings drafted by attorneys. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89 (2007) (per curiam). The
mandated liberal construction means that if the court can
reasonably read the pleadings to state a valid claim on which
the petitioner could prevail, it should do so. However, the
requirement of liberal construction does not mean that the
Court can ignore a clear failure in the pleading to allege
facts which set forth a claim cognizable in a federal
district court. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).
noted above, the petitioner filed the instant action pursuant
to § 2241, seeking the return of all of his good time
credit. For the reasons that follow, the instant matter is
subject to summary dismissal.
§ 2241 does not contain a statutory exhaustion
requirement, it is well-settled that a prisoner “must
exhaust their administrative remedies prior to filing a
§ 2241 petition.” McClung v. Shearin, 90
Fed.Appx. 444, 445 (4th Cir. 2004); see Braden v. 30th
Judicial Circuit Court of Ky., 410 U.S. 484, 490-91
(1973) (requiring exhaustion in § 2241 matter); see
also Timms v. Johns, 627 F.3d 525, 531 (4th Cir. 2010)
(requiring exhaustion of § 2241 petition); Taylor v.
Warden, Satellite Prison Camp at Edgefield, S.C., C/A
No. 2:16-cv-01826-RBH, 2017 WL 359497, at *2-3 (D.S.C. Jan.
25, 2017). The exhaustion requirement allows prison officials
to develop a factual record and provides them with the
opportunity to “resolve disputes concerning the
exercise of their responsibilities before being haled into
court.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 204
judicial exhaustion requirement, however, may be excused by
the court for discretionary reasons, such as where requiring
exhaustion would be futile. See e.g., Chestnut
v. Mosley, C/A No. 1:18-cv-00747-RBH-SVH, 2018 WL
2091387, at *2 (D.S.C. Mar. 30, 2018), Report and
Recommendation adopted by 2018 WL 2087252 (D.S.C. May 4,
2018). Additionally, courts have emphasized that a
petitioner's failure to exhaust administrative remedies
may be excused upon a showing of cause and prejudice.
McClung, 90 Fed.Appx. at 445 (internal citation
omitted). Cause and prejudice requires: “(1) available
remedies provide no genuine opportunity for adequate relief;
(2) irreparable injury may occur without immediate judicial
relief; (3) administrative appeal would be futile; and (4) in
certain instances a [petitioner] has raised a substantial
constitutional question.” Beharry v. Ashcroft,
329 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2003) (internal quotation marks and
the petitioner concedes that he failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies (doc. 1-2 at 2, 6, 7). However, he
contends that the court should excuse the exhaustion
requirement because he has been diagnosed with a serious
mental illness (schizophrenia) and takes antipsychotic
medication (id.; doc. 1 at 1). The petitioner
reiterates this argument in the letter filed with the court
in response to the November 6, 2019, order instructing him to
amend his petition (see doc. 22). However, the
petitioner's unsupported conclusory assertions are
insufficient to excuse his failure to exhaust. See
Thetford Props. IV Ltd. P'ship v. U.S. Dep't of Hous.
& Urban Dev., 907 F.2d 445, 450 (4th Cir. 1990)
(explaining that allowing a petitioner to avoid the
administrative process based on a mere conclusory assertion
“would allow the futility exception to swallow the
exhaustion rule”). Additionally, despite the
petitioner's assertions to the contrary, mental illness
does not automatically equal incompetence. Moreover, the
petitioner's competence has been tested and confirmed on
several occasions, as outlined in an order denying a §
2255 motion filed by the petitioner in the United States
District Court for the District of Hawaii.See United
States of America v. Williams, C/A No.