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Houston v. Linaweaver

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 15, 2014



PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

Pro se prisoner Christopher Houston ("Houston") brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging his continued detention at the Metropolitan Correctional Center ("MCC"). Houston claims that he was deprived of good conduct time-and thus early release from prison-without due process of law. Respondent Catherine Linaweaver, MCC's warden, opposes the petition on the grounds that (1) Houston received a full and fair hearing before being denied good conduct time; and (2) on the merits, the decision was supported by sufficient evidence. Linaweaver is correct on both points. The petition is denied.

I. Background[1]

A. Facts of the Instant Case

Houston is currently serving a 33-month sentence in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. See Dkt. 12 ("Rivers Decl.") Ex. A. Houston is due to be released from prison on July 18, 2013. Initially, Houston was housed at the MCC. On November 26, 2013, Houston was transferred from the MCC to the Brooklyn House Residential Reentry Center ("RRC"), a halfway house located in Brooklyn, New York, where he was to receive pre-release programming and training. See Rivers Decl. Ex. B.

On December 30, 2013, Kilola Hurry ("Hurry"), the mother of Houston's child, called the RRC to report that Houston had made threatening phone calls to her, both at her home and her place of business, and that he had made an unwanted visit to her home. See Rivers Decl. Ex. E ("Incident Report") at 1. Hurry also faxed to the RRC a Temporary Order of Protection that she had obtained against Houston in Family Court of the State of New York, dated December 27, 2013. See id. In support of that petition, Hurry had submitted a sworn statement to the Family Court, in which, inter alia, she described an incident in which Houston had verbally harassed and threatened her. See Rivers Decl. Ex. F. In that statement, Hurry stated that Houston had repeatedly called her on her cell phone and at work demanding to see her, and that when she refused to do so other than at a police precinct, he told her that he "knows where to find her" and that he was willing to use a third party to "get to her." Id.

On March 13, 2014, the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") commenced an investigation into Hurry's allegations; Houston declined to participate in that investigation. See Incident Report at 2. The BOP prepared an Incident Report documenting Hurry's allegations and charging Houston with committing a "High Severity Level Prohibited Act" under 28 C.F.R. § 541.3, to wit, "Threatening Another With Bodily Harm" (Code 203). Id. at 1; see 28 C.F.R. § 541.3 (listing "Threatening Another With Bodily Harm" as a "High Severity Level Prohibited Act, " and designating it a Code 203 violation). The Incident Report was delivered to Houston, and then forwarded to the Center Discipline Committee ("CDC") for an in-person hearing. See Incident Report at 1.

On March 13, 2014, Houston was notified in writing that his CDC hearing would take place on March 19, 2014. See Rivers Decl. Ex. G. At the hearing, Houston waived his right to a staff representative and declined to call witnesses on his behalf, but he did ask the CDC to consider certain documents in rendering its decision. See Rivers Decl. Ex. H ("CDC Report") at 1. At the hearing's conclusion, the CDC found that Houston had committed the prohibited act of Threatening Another With Bodily Harm. The CDC cited both the Incident Report[2] and the Temporary Order of Protection as the bases for its decision. See id. at 1-2.

After the hearing, the CDC Report was forwarded to a BOP Discipline Hearing Officer ("DHO") for review and certification. Id. On March 28, 2014, based on the CDC Report, the DHO imposed a sanction of disallowance of 10 days good conduct time, loss of 54 days of non-vested good conduct time, and removal from the RRC. Id. As a result of his misconduct, Houston was transferred back to the MCC, where he has resided since. Taking into account these sanctions, the date when Houston is to be released from custody is now July 18, 2013; previously, it had been May 23, 2014. See Pet ¶ 12; Resp. Br. 1.

On April 7, 2014, Houston was notified in writing of the CDC's decision, and was provided with both a copy of the Report and a Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal form, which informed Houston how to appeal the decision. See Rivers Decl. Ex. J.

B. Procedural History

On April 23, 2014, Houston, proceeding pro se, filed this petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. See Pet. In the petition, Houston challenges his detention past May 23, 2014, on the ground that he was unlawfully deprived of 64 days of good conduct time without due process of law. See id. ¶¶ 3, 11. Specifically, he claims that he did not receive a pre-deprivation disciplinary hearing, nor did he receive a written decision of the CDC or DHO. See id. ¶ 13.

On May 14, 2014, this case was assigned to my docket. On May 19, 2014, the Court issued an Order directing Respondent, inter alia, to file a notice of appearance by May 28, 2014. Dkt. 4. On May 30, 3014, Houston submitted a letter styled "Application for an Order to Show Cause, " requesting expedited consideration of his habeas petition. Dkt. 6. On June 11, 2014, the Court, recognizing the time sensitivity of Houston's ...

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