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Aguiar v. Lindsay

March 31, 2010

ANDREAS AGUIAR, PRO SE, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN CAMERON LINDSAY, RESPONDENT.
ALBERTO GUZMAN, PRO SE, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN CAMERON LINDSAY, RESPONDENT.
CARLOS LIZ- MARTINEZ, PRO SE, PETITIONER,
v.
WARDEN CAMERON LINDSAY, RESPONDENT.
ANDREAS AGUIAR, PRO SE, PETITIONER,
v.
DISCIPLINARY HEARING OFFICER GARCIA AND FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry, United States District Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Pro se*fn1 petitioners Andreas Aguiar, Carlos Liz-Martinez, and Alberto Guzman separately filed nearly identical petitions on July 16, 2007 for writs of mandamus ("July 16, 2007 petitions") seeking to compel respondent Warden Cameron Lindsay to ensure that inmates are able to file administrative remedy requests without fear of retaliation and to investigate Correctional Counselor Louis Williams for obstruction of justice. (See Aguiar v. Lindsay, 07-cv-3104, Docket Entry 1; Guzman v. Lindsay, 07-cv-3140, Docket Entry 1; Liz-Martinez v. Lindsay, 07-cv-3141, Docket Entry 1.)*fn2 Additionally, on January 4, 2008, Aguiar submitted a letter, which the court deemed to be an amendment to his complaint ("January 4, 2008 complaint"), alleging a new incident of retaliation and intimidation separate from the one alleged in his original petition. (See Aguiar v. Lindsay, 07-cv-3104, Docket Entry 15.)

On August 18, 2008, petitioner Aguiar filed a separate petition for a writ of mandamus regarding a distinct set of facts ("August 18, 2008 petition") seeking to challenge disciplinary proceedings overseen by Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO") Daniel Garcia, and to compel the prison to expunge the related incident report.*fn3 (See Aguiar v. Garcia, 08-cv-3311, Docket Entry 1). In response, respondents filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.*fn4 Thereafter, Aguiar submitted several letters requesting a stay of the proceedings pending discovery. (See Aguiar v. Garcia, 08-cv-3311, Docket Entries 21, 26-28.)

For the reasons stated below, the petitions are denied and Aguiar's motion for a stay of the proceedings pending discovery is also denied. Moreover, the court has no jurisdiction to decide Aguiar's January 4, 2008 complaint because Aguiar has not properly exhausted his administrative remedies. Accordingly, that complaint is also dismissed without prejudice.

II. Background

Aguiar has been serving a life sentence at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York (MDC) since November 29, 2006 for a number of offenses, including conspiracy to import and importation of heroin, possession with intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin, and the use of intimidation to prevent testimony by an individual in an official proceeding. (Aguiar v. Lindsay, Docket Entry 5 "Johnson Decl.," ¶ 6.) Carlos Liz-Martinez and Alberto Guzman are also inmates at the MDC. (Aguiar v. Lindsay, Docket Entry 5 "Williams Decl.," ¶ 3.)

A. July 16, 2007 Petitions

On July 16, 2007, petitioners filed petitions for writs of mandamus arising from an incident that occurred on July 10, 2007. On that day, petitioners gathered outside of Williams' office to submit informal resolution forms complaining of a broken hot-water dispenser and a shortage of typewriters for inmate use. (Aguiar v. Lindsay, 07-cv-3104, Docket Entry 1, at 2.) Petitioners allege Williams stated to Guzman that he would place Guzman and the other complaining inmates in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), if they continued to submit such complaints. (Id.) Petitioners claim that, as a result of Williams' threat, they are now "afraid to continue any form of administrative remedies at the prison." (Id.) According to petitioners, this conduct constitutes obstruction of justice.

Williams offers a different portrayal of the incident. According to him, "[b]ased on the number of inmates assembled . . . [he] perceived that the situation qualified as or would soon escalate into a group demonstration." (Williams Decl. ¶ 5.) He therefore issued a warning that a group demonstration could result in placement in the SHU. Williams' warnings to the inmates did not result in any disciplinary action. Furthermore, all of the inmates gathered on that day were able to submit their complaints. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6 & Ex. 1-2, 5-6; Aguiar v. Lindsay, 07-cv-3104, Docket Entry 12, at 8.)

In his January 4, 2008 complaint, Aguiar alleges several additional instances of intimidation stemming from the July 10, 2007 incident. Aguiar claims that several additional MDC staff members interfered with his access to the courts by confiscating legal documents and limiting his access to the law library, and that one of the staff members failed to dismiss a "bogus" charge and refused to release the legal documents that were confiscated. (See Aguiar v. Lindsay, 07-cv-3104, Docket Entry 15.)

A. August 18, 2008 Petition

On August 18, 2008, Aguiar filed another petition for a writ of mandamus arising from an incident that occurred on February 13, 2007. On that date, an MDC officer searched Aguiar's cell, where he was housed with his cell-mate, and found a sharpened piece of metal, colloquially known as a "shank," beneath the mattress of the bottom bunk. (Aguiar v. Garcia, 08-cv-3311, Docket Entry 1, at 2.) Incident reports were provided to Aguiar and his cell-mate. (Id. at 4.) At a hearing before the Unit Disciplinary Committee, Aguiar and his cell-mate stated that the shank was planted in the cell. (Id.) Also at that hearing, Aguiar selected a staff representative to assist with his disciplinary proceedings. However, prior to the hearings before respondent DHO Garcia, Aguiar signed a document that indicated that he waived his right to the staff representative. (See Aguiar v. Garcia, 08-cv-3311, Docket Entry 19, Ex. F.) At the hearing before DHO Garcia, Aguiar again waived his right to a staff representative. (Id., Ex. H.) The only evidence Aguiar presented at the hearing was his own statement that the shank must have been planted and that his cell-mate was going to take responsibility for it. (See id.)

DHO Garcia held that some facts supported petitioner's culpability and Aguiar was therefore sanctioned. (See id.) Immediately subsequent to Aguiar's hearing, DHO Garcia held Aguiar's cell-mate's hearing. (Aguiar v. Garcia, 08-cv-3311, Docket Entry 17, ¶ 91.) Aguiar's cell mate took responsibility for the weapon, stating that he did so because he did not want any problems with Aguiar. (Aguiar v. Garcia, 08-cv-3311, Docket Entry 17, ¶ 95.)

Aguiar alleges that: (1) he was deprived of the opportunity to have a staff representative research his claim that the shank was planted, (2) respondent DHO Garcia altered what was said by Aguiar at the disciplinary hearing, (3) the incident report and DHO Report altered information by failing to state that a confidential informant had planted the shank, (4) DHO Garcia refused to accept a statement by Aguiar's cell-mate who allegedly had accepted responsibility for possession of the shank, and (5) DHO Garcia knew that Aguiar previously ...


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