Green v. Davis, No. 4:2017cv02027 - Document 3 (S.D. Tex. 2017)

Court Description: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. A Certificate of Appealability is denied. (Signed by Judge Sim Lake) Parties notified. (aboyd, 4)
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Green v. Davis Doc. 3 United States District Court Southern District of Texas IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS HOUSTON DIVISION ADRIAN LAMONT GREEN, TDCJ #1495025, § § § § § § § § § § § § § Petitioner, v. LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent . 1 ENTERED July 21, 2017 David J. Bradley, Clerk CIVIL ACTION NO. H-17-2027 MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER The petitioner, Adrian Lamont Green (TDCJ #1495025), has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody ("Petition") (Docket Entry No. disciplinary conviction. 1), seeking relief from a prison After considering the pleadings and the applicable law, the court will dismiss this action for the reasons explained below. I. Green is Background currently incarcerated at the Ellis Unit as the result of a murder conviction that was entered against him in 2008 1 The Petition names the Honorable Dale Wainwright, who is Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, and Warden Roesler, as the respondents. Because the petitioner is in custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Institutions Division ("TDCJ"), Director Lorie Davis is substituted as the proper respondent pursuant to Rule 2 (a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts. Dockets.Justia.com in the 187th District Court of Bexar County, received a 33-year prison sentence in that case. 3 Texas. 2 Green Green does not challenge that conviction in this action. Green seeks relief from a prison disciplinary conviction that was entered against him at the Ellis Unit on May 20, 2016. 4 In particular, Green challenges his conviction in disciplinary case #20160278946 for possessing contraband (tobacco) prison rules. 5 in violation of As a result of this disciplinary conviction, Green forfeited 360 days of previously earned good-time credit and he temporarily lost commissary, privileges. 6 recreation, and contact visitation Green was reduced in custodial and classification status as punishment for his offense. 7 Green filed grievances to challenge the conviction, but his appeals were unsuccessful. 8 In four related claims for relief, challenged disciplinary violation of the right conviction was to due Green contends that the entered against process because him there in was insufficient evidence to establish that he possessed tobacco as 2 Petition, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 2. 3 Id. 4 Id. at 5. 5 Id. at 5-6. 6 Petition, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 5. 7 Id. 8 Id. at 5-6. -2- alleged in the disciplinary case him. 9 against For reasons explained below, the court concludes that Green is not entitled to relief under the legal standard that governs disciplinary proceedings in the state prison context. II. Prison Disciplinary Proceedings An inmate's rights in the prison disciplinary setting are governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 2963, 2974-75 (1974). See Wolff v. McDonnell, 94 S. Ct. Prisoners charged with institutional rules violations are entitled to rights under the Due Process Clause only when the disciplinary action may result in a sanction that will infringe upon a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Sandin v. Conner, 115 S. Ct. 2293, 2302 (1995). See Liberty interests emanate from either the Due Process Clause itself or from state law. See Kentucky Dep't of Corrections v. Thompson, 1904, 1908 (1989) (citation omitted). To the 109 S. Ct. extent that a disciplinary conviction may affect an inmate's eligibility for early release from prison, the Due Process Clause does not include a right to conditional release before the expiration of a valid sentence. See Greenholtz v. Correctional Complex, Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and 99 S. Ct. 2100, 2104 (1979). Under these circumstances, the petitioner's claims depend on the existence of a constitutionally protected liberty interest created by state law. 9 Id. at 6-7. -3- The Supreme Court has decided that only those state-created substantive interests that "inevitably affect the duration of prisoner's] [a sentence" may qualify for constitutional protection under the Due Process Clause. Sandin, 115 S. Ct. at 2302. also Orellana v. Kyle, 65 F.3d 29, 31-32 (5th Cir. 1995). In Texas only those inmates who are eligible for the form of parole known as mandatory supervision have a constitutional expectancy of early release. See Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 956 (5th Cir. 2000). As a result, a Texas prisoner cannot demonstrate a constitutional violation in the prison disciplinary satisfying the following criteria: (1) context first he must be eligible for early release on mandatory supervision; and (2) conviction at issue must have resulted in a earned good-time credit. without the disciplinary loss of previously See id. at 957-58 (explaining that only those Texas inmates who are eligible for early release on mandatory supervision have a protected liberty interest in their previously earned good-time credit) . Green cannot demonstrate a constitutional violation in this case because, although he lost good-time credit as the result of the challenged disciplinary conviction, he admits that he is not eligible for mandatory supervision. 10 process claims. This is fatal to Green's due See Malchi, 211 F.3d at 957-58. Peti tion, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 5 ~ 16. See also Tex. Gov' t Code § 508.149 (a) (2) (excluding Texas prisoners convicted of murder from eligibility for mandatory supervision) 10 -4- Although the disciplinary conviction at issue also resulted in a loss of privileges and affected Green's classification status, the Fifth Circuit has recognized that such sanctions, which are "merely changes in the conditions of [an inmate's] confinement," do not implicate due process concerns. 765, 768 (5th Cir. 1997). Madison v. Parker, 104 F.3d Limitations imposed on privileges are the type of sanctions that do not pose an atypical or significant hardship beyond the ordinary incidents of prison life. Likewise, reductions in a prisoner's custodial classification and the potential impact on good-time credit earning ability are too attenuated to be protected by the Due Process Clause. See Malchi, 211 F.3d at 958; Luken v. Scott, 71 F.3d 192, 193 (5th Cir. 1995); Neals v. Norwood, 59 F.3d 530, 533 circumstances Green cannot (5th Cir. 1995). demonstrate a Under these violation of the Due Process Clause, and his pending federal habeas corpus Petition must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. III. Certificate of Appealability Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases now requires a district court to issue or deny a certificate of appealability when entering a final order that is adverse to the petitioner. A certificate of appealability will not issue unless the petitioner makes "a substantial showing of the denial of a right," 28 U.S.C. demonstrate "that § 2253 (c) (2), reasonable constitutional which requires a petitioner to jurists -5- would find the district court's assessment wrong." Tennard v. Dretke, 124 S. Ct. 2562, 2564 (2004) Slack v. McDaniel, of the 120 S. controlling standard this constitutional Ct. 1595, requires claims 1604 a debatable (2000)). or (quoting Under the petitioner to show "that reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were encouragement to proceed further.'" s. Ct . 1 02 9 I 1 03 9 ( 2 0 03 ) . 'adequate Miller-El v. to deserve Cockrell, 123 Where denial of relief is based on procedural grounds the petitioner must show not only that "jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right," but also that they "would find it debatable whether correct in its procedural ruling." A district court may deny a the district court was Slack, 120 S. Ct. at 1604. certificate of appealability, sua sponte, without requiring further briefing or argument. See Alexander v. For Johnson, 211 F.3d 895, 898 (5th Cir. 2000). reasons set forth above, the court concludes that jurists of reason would not debate whether the petitioner states a valid claim or that the Petition should be resolved in a different manner. Therefore, a certificate of appealability will not issue. IV. Conclusion and Order Based on the foregoing, the court ORDERS as follows: 1. The Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody filed by Adrian Lamont -6- Green (Docket Entry No. 1) is DENIED, and this case will be dismissed with prejudice. 2. A certificate of appealability is DENIED. The Clerk shall provide a copy of this Memorandum Opinion and Order to the parties. SIGNED at Houston, Texas, on this the 21st day of July, 2017. ,. SIM LAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE -7-