The opinion of the court was delivered by: JEROME SIMANDLE, District Judge
Petitioner Juan Morales, a prisoner confined at the Federal
Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, New Jersey, has submitted a
petition for writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2241,*fn1 challenging the results of a prison disciplinary
proceeding. The sole respondent is Warden C.J. DeRosa. For the reasons set forth below, the Petition will be denied.
Petitioner is presently confined pursuant to a conviction and
sentence issued in the U.S. District Court for the District of
On November 16, 2002, Petitioner submitted a urine sample for
drug testing. The Chain of Custody form signed by Petitioner,
Register Number 11782-050, indicated Specimen Number B00902296.
The Chain of Custody form included the following certification:
"I certify that the specimen accompanying this form is my own and
that I provided it to the collector. Further, I certify that the
specimen was sealed in my presence and that the information on
this form and label is correct." (Answer, Hebbon Decl., Ex. 1d,
Chain of Custody form.)
On November 21, 2002, Petitioner was issued an Incident Report,
Number 1049453, charging him with the unauthorized use of
narcotics, a violation of Offense Code 112. See
28 C.F.R. § 541.13 (detailing Offense Codes). The Incident Report stated:
On 11/21/02 at approximately 10:00 am I received
written notification from National Toxicology which
stated that specimen number B00643831 had tested
positive for Opiates/Morphine. Specimen number
B00902296 was assigned to the urine sample for
inmate Morales, Juan # 11782-050 and provided on
11-16-2002 at 5:43pm to officer Duncan. Health
Services was notified and informed this office that
the medication was not prescribed to inmate Morales,
Juan # 03147-036 which resulted in a positive test
for Opiates/Morphine. (Answer, Hebbon Decl., Ex. 1c, Incident Report No. 1049453
(emphasis added).) The Incident Report refers to two different
specimen numbers and two different register numbers.
The Incident Report was based upon a laboratory report from
National Toxicology Laboratories, which reflects a positive
result for "Opiates Morphine" for Specimen Number B00902296.
(Answer, Hebbon Decl., Ex. 1e, National Toxicology Laboratories,
Inc. Laboratory Report.)
On November 22, 2002, the United Discipline Committee ("UDC")
referred the incident report to the Discipline Hearing Officer
("DHO") for further hearing. On December 12, 2002, a DHO hearing
was convened. During that hearing, it was noted that two specimen
identification numbers were included on the incident report.
Therefore, the DHO returned the report for additional
On December 13, 2002, a revised incident report was issued to
Petitioner charging him with the same prohibited act as the
original incident report. (Answer, Hebbon Decl., Ex. 1f, Revised
Incident Report.) While the revised incident report corrected the
erroneous reference to specimen number B00643831, it did not
correct the erroneous reference to two different register
The DHO hearing reconvened on December 19, 2002. The DHO
determined that Petitioner had committed the prohibited act charged and imposed various sanctions, including the disallowance
of 54 days good time credits. (Answer, Hebbon Decl., Ex. 1g, DHO
Report.) The DHO Report reflects that Petitioner denied the
charge and stated that he did not use any drugs. In finding that
Petitioner had committed the prohibited acts, the DHO relied upon
the Incident Report, the Chain of Custody form, the Laboratory
Report, and Petitioner's institutional history of unauthorized
use of narcotics.
Petitioner has exhausted his administrative remedies for
challenging the DHO Report and sanctions.
Here, Petitioner contends that he was denied due process
because the DHO was belligerent at the hearing, because the
specimen that tested positive was not assigned to him (as
evidenced by the typographical discrepancies in the Incident
Report), and because the sanctions imposed are severe.
Respondent has answered. Petitioner has submitted a reply in
support of his Petition, and this ...