United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. Kugler United States District Judge.
Candido Arreola-Albarran, is a federal prisoner currently
incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix, in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He is
proceeding pro se with a Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Respondent filed an
Answer opposing relief (ECF No. 8), and Petitioner did not
file a reply. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
deny the Petition.
case arises from a disciplinary hearing during
Petitioner's incarceration at FCI Fort Dix. At 1:00 p.m.,
on August 20, 2016, prison officials found a cell phone in
the possession of a Fredy Arbito, another prisoner at the
facility. Officials analyzed the phone on August 22, 2016 and
found that someone had used the phone to call a person at
11:01 a.m. and another person at 11:56 a.m., on August 20,
2016. A system report revealed that those numbers were on
Petitioner's approved list and belonged to
Petitioner's parent and children. As a result, later that
same day, officials issued an incident report charging
Petitioner with possession of a hazardous tool, in violation
of Bureau of Prisons Code 108,  delivered the report to
Petitioner, and advised him of his rights.
same day, the investigating official referred the incident
report to the Unit Discipline Committee (“UDC”).
On August 23, 2016, Petitioner received a notice of
disciplinary hearing, and officials advised him of his
rights. Petitioner signed an acknowledgement of those rights
and indicated that he did not want to have a staff
representative or call any witnesses.
August 24, 2016, the UDC held an initial hearing, where
Petitioner admitted that the numbers belonged to his family
members but stated that he did not know how the numbers
appeared in the phone. He also denied ever using the phone.
After the hearing, the UDC referred the incident report to a
Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”).
months later, on December 16, 2016, the DHO held a hearing
and again advised Petitioner of his rights. Petitioner
confirmed that he did not want a staff representative and did
not wish to call any witnesses. Petitioner stated that
“he did not know how the phone number showed up on the
cell phone” and that “his family had made calls
but no one said anything to him about anybody else contacting
them.” (ECF No. 8-3, at 20).
considered Petitioner's statements in reaching a
decision, as well as the incident report; the chain of
custody log for the cell phone; a memorandum from the staff
member who recovered the cell phone; photos of the cellphone,
including recently dialed numbers; and a system report for
the two phone numbers in the phone's recent call log.
particular, the DHO found that the system report showed that
the two phone numbers at issue were only on
Petitioner's approved phone list, rather than on any
other inmates' approved list. After considering all of
the evidence, the DHO concluded that Petitioner committed the
act of aiding in the possession of a dangerous tool, in
violation of Code 108. The DHO then issued the following
sanctions: (1) revocation of forty days of good conduct time;
(2) loss of email privileges for ninety days; and (3) loss of
phone privileges for ninety days.
appealed the DHO's decision, arguing that the weight of
the evidence did not support the DHO's findings. More
specifically, Petitioner argued that he was at work during
the calls to his family and that the DHO failed to explain
“how” Petitioner aided another inmate in
possessing a cellphone. At each level of appeal, Petitioner
received a denial. The parties dispute whether Petitioner
raised these allegations at any of his hearings.
then filed the instant Petition, again arguing that the
DHO's decision was against the greater weight of the
evidence. Respondent filed an Answer (ECF No. 8), and
Petitioner did not file a reply.
STANDARD OF REVIEW & JURISDICTION
hold pro se pleadings to less stringent standards
than more formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. See
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Courts must
construe pro se habeas petitions and any supporting
submissions liberally and with a measure of tolerance.
See Royce v. Hahn, 151 F.3d 116, 118 (3d Cir. 1998).
Court does not dismiss the petition at the screening stage,
the Court “must review the answer, any transcripts and
records . . . to determine whether” the matter warrants
an evidentiary hearing. Rule 8(a) of the Rules Governing
Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (made
applicable to proceedings under § 2241 by Rule 1(b)).
“Whether to order a hearing is within the sound
discretion of the trial court, ” and depends on whether
the hearing “would have the potential to advance the
petitioner's claim.” Campbell v. Vaughn,209 F.3d 280, 287 (3d Cir. 2000); States ...