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Julius T. Hall v. Donna Zickefoose

June 1, 2011

JULIUS T. HALL, PETITIONER,
v.
DONNA ZICKEFOOSE, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bumb, District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

APPEARANCES:

Petitioner Julius T. Hall, a prisoner currently 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 Donna Zickefoose.

For the reasons set forth below, the Petition will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

In August 2003, Petitioner was sentenced in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York to a term of 155 months' imprisonment. United States v. Hall, Criminal No. 97-0237 (W.D.N.Y.). Petitioner's projected release date, assuming he receives all good conduct time available to him, is September 14, 2015.

Petitioner was admitted to the Federal Correctional Institution at Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, on November 21, 2006, where he remained until he was transferred in June 2009 to the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix, New Jersey. In a May 16, 2008, Memorandum, while Petitioner was confined there, Warden T. R. Sneizek advised all FCI Schuylkill inmates as follows:

SUBJECT: Inmate Discipline regarding Cellular

Telephones and Related Electronic Devices This is a re-issuance of a memorandum dated October 28, 2005, from this office: I have determined that inmate possession of a cellular telephone at this institution poses a serious threat to institution security. Therefore, any inmate found in possession of a cellular telephone, or related electronic devices such as telephone chargers or batteries, will be charged with a violation of Code 108, Possession, Manufacture, or Introduction of a Hazardous Tool. If found guilty, inmates will be sanctioned accordingly.

Also note, Bureau of Prisons' Program Statement 5270.07, Inmate Discipline and Special Housing Units, states it is an inmate's responsibility to keep his area free of contraband. Therefore, inmates will be charged with a violation of Code 108 if a cellular phone, or related devices, are found in an inmate's personal area. (Answer, Decl. of Tara Moran, Ex. 5, Memorandum.)*fn2

On February 17, 2009, at 7:20 p.m., while he was confined at FCI Schuylkill, Petitioner was issued Incident Report Number 1835017, which was delivered to him at 7:05 p.m. on February 18, 2009, and which charged him with a violation of Code 108 (possession, manufacture, or introduction of a hazardous tool). The Incident Report detailed the incident, as follows:

(Date: 2-17-09 Time: 6:45 pm staff became aware of incident) On the above Date at 6:45 pm this writer was conducting a routine shakedown in Camp 2 Cube E08-013 which house's inmate's Hall and [cellmate]. While shaking down the desk area in the cube, I took apart the desk light and found one Black and Silver Motorola cell phone with a charger hidden inside. I then called both inmates to the Administration Office, when they arrived I asked each one whose phone it was and inmate Hall replied that it was his and inmate [cellmate] had nothing to do with it. (Answer, Decl. of Tara Moran, Ex. 4, Incident Report No. 1835017, ¶ 11.) Upon being read the charges, Petitioner indicated that the factual statement was true.

At the Unit Discipline Committee hearing on February 19, 2009, Petitioner admitted that the facts of the Incident Report were true. The UDC concluded that the Incident Report was true as written, based upon Petitioner's admissions and the information provided by the reporting officer. The UDC referred the Incident Report to the Discipline Hearing Officer.

The DHO hearing was held on March 9, 2009. At the hearing, Petitioner stated, "The report is true, the cell phone is mine." In addition to the Incident Report and Petitioner's admissions, the DHO considered a staff memorandum dated February 17, 2009, and the May 16, 2008, Memorandum from Warden Sniezek. The DHO determined that Petitioner had committed the prohibited act of Possession of a Hazardous Tool, contrary to Code 108. The DHO sanctioned Petitioner to disallowance of 54 days good conduct time, forfeiture of 270 days of non-vested good conduct time, and other sanctions regarding the conditions of his confinement.

VIII. REASON FOR SANCTION OR ACTION TAKEN

This tool is described as a hand held portable telephone capable of transmitting messages undetected and unmonitored by staff members. This posses[es] a significant security concern since this device can be utilized to have contraband introduced as well as to arrange escapes. Accordingly, Disciplinary Segregation, the Disallowance of Good Conduct Time and the Forfeiture of Non Vested Good Conduct Time is sanctioned to punish HALL for his misconduct while the Loss of Privileges (Phone, Commissary and Visit) is sanctioned in an effort to deter him from future misconduct.

The DHO is recommending a Disciplinary Transfer to meet HALL's greater need for supervision as well as to an institution commensurate to his security needs. (Answer, Decl. of Tara Moran, Ex. 5, Discipline Hearing Officer Report, ¶ VII.)

On or about April 20, 2009, Petitioner appealed the decision of the DHO to the Northeast Regional Office.*fn3 Petitioner did not deny that he possessed the cell phone, but he asked that the sanctions be reduced. As the sanctions were within the range for the offense, the appeal was denied. Petitioner then appealed to the Central Office, arguing that the severity of the sanctions was disproportionate, especially in relation to the sanctions imposed on others similarly situated, in order to make an example of Petitioner. He specifically argued that the sanctions violated his rights to due process and equal protection. Due to the seriousness of the charge, the Central Office concurred with the sanctions imposed.

This Petition followed. Here, Petitioner challenges the results of the disciplinary hearing ...


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