Whitfield v. Howard, No. 15-2649 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Whitfield's 2002, 2003, and 2007 prison disciplinary proceedings resulted in the revocation of 16 months of good-conduct credit Whitfield had earned. Whitfield diligently, but unsuccessfully, filed administrative grievances regarding all three actions. In 2003-2004, Whitfield filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, challenging the 2002 and 2003 proceedings, claiming retaliation in violation of the First Amendment. The district courts dismissed. Whitfield also, unsuccessfully, sought mandamus relief in Illinois state court alleging due process violations. In 2009, Whitfield attempted to challenge all three revocations of good-conduct credit through a state-law habeas corpus petition, which was dismissed without prejudice. An appeal was dismissed because Whitfield was unable to obtain the record. In March 2011, Whitfield filed a federal habeas petition. The state argued that Whitfield’s petition would be rendered moot in July 2011, when he was scheduled for release, and failure to exhaust state remedies. The district court dismissed the action as moot when Whitfield was released. Whitfield filed the present section 1983 action. Upon preliminary review (28 U.S.C. 1915(e)) the district court found that Whitfield stated claims for due process violations and for retaliation but granted the defendants summary judgment, finding that Whitfield’s suit was barred by precedent requiring a plaintiff to pursue timely collateral relief while in custody. The Seventh Circuit reversed. Whitfield did his best to obtain timely relief while in custody; precedent requires no more.