United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MICHAEL N. THOMAS, #B71744, Petitioner,
STEPHEN DUNCAN and IDOC, Respondents.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HERNDON, District Judge
Michael N. Thomas is currently in the custody of the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) and
incarcerated at Lawrence Correctional Center
(“Lawrence”). On July 18, 2016, he filed a
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 (Doc. 1) to challenge the loss of nine months of
good conduct credit as a result of prison disciplinary
proceedings that allegedly violated his right to due process
of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. He seeks restoration
of the lost credits.
case is now before the Court for preliminary review of the
Petition pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section
2254 Cases in United States District Courts. Rule 4 provides
that upon preliminary consideration by the district judge,
“[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any
attached exhibits that the petition is not entitled to relief
in the district court, the judge must dismiss the petition
and direct the clerk to notify the petitioner.”
is currently serving a forty year sentence on a 1997 murder
conviction. On or around October 29, 2013, he was issued a
disciplinary ticket at Lawrence for: (1) Rule 110 - impeding
an investigation; (2) Rule 303 - giving false information to
an employee; and (3) Rule 404 - violating IDOC rules (Doc. 1,
p. 2). Thomas allegedly received the ticket because he
refused to sign a confession admitting that he
“physically forced himself on [an] unidentified female
employee numerous times for sex and money” at
another prison (Doc. 1-1, p. 2) (emphasis in original).
Thomas was never charged or punished for this alleged
misconduct; he was instead issued a ticket when he refused to
admit to it (id. at 2-3, 10). Thomas pleaded not
guilty to the rule violations.
an allegedly unfair disciplinary hearing, Thomas was found
guilty of all three rule violations on November 11, 2013. He
was punished with nine months of segregation, nine months of
C-grade status, and nine months of lost good conduct credits.
The loss of good conduct credits delayed his parole release
date by nine months. According to the Petition, Thomas was
originally slated for release on parole on June 28, 2018
(Doc. 1, p. 7). The IDOC’s public website indicates
that his projected parole date is now March 28, 2019
challenged the decision of the disciplinary hearing committee
on the following due process grounds: (1) Ground 1 - prison
officials failed to disclose exculpatory information and/or
materials that were relevant to the alleged rule violations;
(2) Ground 2 - prison officials failed to follow internal
rules and regulations regarding the subject matter; (3)
Ground 3 - prison officials used IDOC rules and regulations
in an effort to compel Thomas to serve as a witness against
himself; and (4) Ground 4 - prison officials deprived Thomas
of a fair and impartial disciplinary hearing (id. at
3). Thomas asserts that he exhausted the prison’s
internal grievance procedures and his state court remedies
prior to bringing this habeas action in federal court
(id. at 3-7).
instant petition, Thomas reasserts these same due process
challenges to the prison disciplinary proceedings at Lawrence
that resulted in his punishment with nine months of lost good
conduct credit on November 11, 2013 (id. at 7-8). He
asks this Court to enter an order expunging the disciplinary
sanctions and reinstating his nine months of good conduct
credits (id. at 8). Alternatively, he requests a new
disciplinary hearing on the ticket (id. at 9).
a state prisoner is challenging the very fact or duration of
his physical imprisonment, and the relief he seeks is a
determination that he is entitled to immediate release or a
speedier release from the imprisonment, his sole federal
remedy is a writ of habeas corpus.” Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500 (1973). Section 2254 may be
used to present a Fourteenth Amendment due process challenge
to a disciplinary hearing that results in the loss of good
conduct credits. See, e.g., Austin v. Pazera, 779
F.3d 437 (7th Cir. 2015).
due process challenges to the revocation of good conduct
credits may proceed. However, the petition can only proceed
against Stephen Duncan, who is Lawrence’s warden. The
proper respondent is the warden of the facility where the
prisoner is being held. See Rule 2(a), Rules
Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District
Courts. Thomas also named the IDOC, and this respondent shall
be dismissed as a party to the action.
CLERK shall TERMINATE respondent IDOC as a party to the
action. This action shall now be captioned Michael N.
Thomas, Petitioner v. Warden Stephen Duncan, Respondent.
HEREBY ORDERED that Thomas’ due process claims
associated with the revocation of good conduct credits on or