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Cortez L Trapps, Inmate #13392- 026 v. James Cross

September 29, 2011

CORTEZ L TRAPPS, INMATE #13392- 026 PETITIONER,
v.
JAMES CROSS, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Herndon, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court are three pending motions filed by petitioner Cortez Trapps, an inmate in the Greenville federal correctional institution, against respondent James Cross, warden of the Greenville federal correctional institution. Those motions are as follows: 1) Trapps' petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. 1); 2) Trapps' motion for temporary restraining order ("TRO") (Doc. 23); and Trapps' motion for summary judgment (Doc. 24). For the reasons that follow, all three motions are denied.

I. Background

Trapps is serving fifteen years in federal prison for possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). He petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, challenging a disciplinary conviction for possessing a weapon that resulted in the loss of forty-one days' good-time credit, thirty days' of disciplinary segregation, 90 days' loss of commissary privileges, 90 days' loss of telephone privileges, and 90 days' loss of visiting privileges.

On January 6, 2010, while searching Trapps' cell, a prison staff member found a "homemade weapon . . . 5.5 inches long, sharpened to a point with a string taped around the other end." The staff member filled out an incident report, gave a copy to Trapps that same day, and sent a copy to the lieutenant's office along with the weapon. On February 17, 2010, the Unit Discipline Committee conducted a hearing whereby it was noted that Trapps had requested a staff representative, but at the hearing elected to waive his appearance. At the hearing, Trapps denied the charges against him, stating, "I can't understand why I'm being charged with something I didn't have knowledge of." He did not call any witnesses, nor were any witnesses called.

On April 19, 2010, the discipline hearing officer ("DHO") found the act committed as charged. The DHO gave the following reasoning for his finding:

"This finding is based on the reporting staff member's written statement that on January 6, 2010, at approximately 7:15 a.m., while searching cell C02-110, in a hole in the upper locker, I found a homemade weapon. It was approximately 5.5 inches long, sharpened to a point with a string taped around the other end.

The investigative lieutenant stated that the locker was an extra locker which was not secured because only two inmates are assigned to that cell, and neither inmate claimed ownership of the weapon. Inmates are responsible for the contents of their cells, and area expected to keep it clear of any contraband.

You stated to the DHO, 'I can't understand why I'm being charged with something I didn't have knowledge of.'

Based on the greater weight of the evidence, the DHO finds you did commit the prohibited act of Code #104, Possession of a Weapon." The DHO's decision was delivered to Trapps on August 9, 2010.

On August 11, 2010, Trapps filed an administrative appeal, contending that during his stay in administrative segregation, another inmate, Bruce McCree, had informed him that he had placed the weapon in Trapps' cell because his cell was being inspected. Trapps alleged that he informed the lieutenant of this prior to his hearing. Attached to the appeal was an affidavit from McCree, dated August 10, 2010, that stated the following:

"[O]n December 22, [2]009[,] . . . the unit officer attempted to pat search me on my return from the rec yard. I refused this pat search and proceeded to cell 210 in the 3A housing unit, I at that time removed a hook that altered into what could be called a knife for personal protection and placed it in a open locker in cell 1010 located in housing unit 3A."

He then stated that on December 24, 2009, that he was "escorted to SHU"*fn1 and "didn't have a chance to retrieve the weapon that [he] had placed in cell 110 of unit 3A which housed Mr. Cortez Trapps and Mr. Willie Hemphill." Trapps' appeal was denied and again denied following another administrative appeal.

After exhausting his administrative remedies, Trapps filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2241 (Doc. 1), seeking revocation of good time credit and expungement of the incident report charging him with possession of a weapon. The Court ordered respondent to answer, and on July 15, 2011, respondent filed a response (Doc. 20) to Trapps' petition for writ of habeas corpus. On August 11, 2011, Trapps filed a reply to respondent's response (Doc. 22), a motion for TRO (Doc. 23), and a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 24). On August 12, 2011, respondent filed responses to both the motion for summary judgment (Doc. 25) and the motion for TRO ...


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