The opinion of the court was delivered by: James E. Shadid United States District Judge
E-FILED Friday, 07 October, 2011 02:43:13 PM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
Before the Court is a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by Petitioner, Ryan Mathison ("Mathison"). For the following reasons, the Petition [#1] is DENIED.
Mathison was convicted in the Northern District of Iowa on charges of operating a continuing criminal enterprise in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 848(a) and (C); conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(I); and filing false tax returns in violation of 26 U.S.C. §7206(1). He was sentenced to 31 years' imprisonment and is currently incarcerated at FCI Pekin.
On August 19, 2009, Mathison was involved in an altercation with another inmate and was charged with fighting under BOP Code 201. BOP Sports Specialist Ioerger observed Mathison and another inmate hitting each other on a handball court and directed them to stop. Mathison then threw the other inmate to the ground. Mathison received a copy of this incident report on August 22, 2009. On August 25, 2009, the Unit Disciplinary Committee ("UDC") held a hearing. Mathison claimed that he was only acting in self defense after being struck by the other inmate. The UDC referred the matter to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO") for further hearing.
A due process hearing was held before the DHO on October 1, 2009. Mathison does not deny that he received notice of the hearing, was presented with a copy of the incident report, and was informed of his rights prior to appearing before the DHO. He waived his right to have a staff member representative at the hearing and indicated that he did not wish to call any witnesses. Mathison appeared at the hearing and gave a statement. He stated, "I was attacked and I was totally defending myself. He hit me in the mouth and I took him down and held him there."
The DHO found that Mathison had engaged in fighting and sanctioned him 14 days loss of good conduct time, 90 days loss of commissary privileges (suspended pending 90 days clear conduct), and 90 days loss of visitation privileges. The DHO based his decision on Mathison's statements during the hearing and to the UDC, the incident report based on the written statement of Sports Specialist Ioerger, and the August 19, 2009 medical assessments indicating injuries consistent with an altercation.
On October 26, 2009, Mathison filed an appeal to the North Central Regional Office, arguing that based on camera evidence and the statements of the two inmates involved, it was clear that he was acting in self defense. In addressing the appeal, the Regional Director noted that the incident report indicated that Mathison and the other inmate were observed striking each other in the upper torso with closed fists prior to Mathison grabbing the other inmate and tossing him to the ground. Both inmates had injuries consistent with a physical altercation, and the referenced video footage was not available. Accordingly, it was determined that his actions did not constitute self defense.
On December 11, 2009, Mathison filed a Central Office Administrative Remedy Appeal raising essentially the same argument as he raised in his previous appeal. In denying the appeal, the Administrator of National Inmate Appeals found that the DHO's decision was supported by the greater weight of the evidence as detailed in the DHO report and that the DHO's determination was reasonable. It was further found that administrative procedures were substantially followed and that his Due Process rights were upheld during the process.
Mathison filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. In his petition, he argues that the BOP failed to protect him by knowingly placing the other inmate in general population despite that inmate's history of assaults and mental instability. Although the petition gives the impression of pursuing a § 1983 claim for damages, Mathison subsequently clarified that he is only seeking the reversal of the disciplinary action imposed against him. The Government responded to his petition, and this Order follows.
A petition seeking habeas corpus relief is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 when a defendant is challenging the fact or duration of his confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 490 (1973); Waletzki v. Keohane, 13 F.3d 1079, 1080 (7th Cir. 1994). The writ of habeas corpus may be granted where the defendant is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. §2241(c)(3). "Such relief is obtainable, ...