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Adkins v. Kallis

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division

October 31, 2017

MARCHAN ADKINS, Petitioner,
v.
STEVE KALLIS, Respondent.

          ORDER & OPINION

          JOE BILLY McDADE United States Senior District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by Marchan Adkins. The motion has been fully briefed. For the reasons stated below, the motion is DENIED.

         Background

         On July 30, 2014, Petitioner Marchan Adkins pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance 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 crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(I). United States v. Adkins, 13-cr-50039 (N.D. Ill. 2014) (Doc. 28). Adkins was sentenced to 120 months in prison. Id. (Doc. 37).

         On June 9, 2015, Adkins “brushed” against the left shoulder of a prison staff member at FCI Oxford, where he was incarcerated at the time. As a result of the incident, Adkins was charged with assault and insolence towards a staff member in violation of BOP Code. On June 16, 2015, the prison's Unit Discipline Committee (“UDC”) held a hearing in Adkins' presence. (Doc. 1 at 11). The UDC then referred the charges to the Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”) for further hearing, with recommended sanctions of loss of good-time and loss of phone and commissary privileges. Id. On July 7, 2015, after a hearing, the DHO found that Adkins committed the prohibited acts. Id. at 14. As to the assault charge-the only charge Adkins challenges in the instant petition-Adkins lost 14 days of good-conduct time, and 30 days of email and phone privileges. Id.

         On June 23, 2017, Adkins filed the instant petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 arguing that the BOP denied him due process because his DHO hearing was not fair and impartial, and because he was not allowed to procure medical records to show he was legally blind in his right eye. He also contends that he is actually innocent of the assault charge. The Government has filed its response and Petitioner filed a reply. Thus, this matter is ripe for decision.

         Legal Standards

         A petition seeking habeas corpus relief is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 when a petitioner is challenging the fact or duration of confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 490 (1973); Walker v. O'Brien, 216 F.3d 626, 629 (7th Cir. 2000). Because the loss of good-conduct time impacts Adkins' release date, he correctly pursues relief under § 2241. See id.; Waletzki v. Keohane, 13 F.3d 1079, 1080-83 (7th Cir. 1994).

         “Federal inmates must be afforded due process before any of their good-time credits-in which they have a liberty interest-can be revoked.” Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011). “In the context of a prison disciplinary hearing, due process requires that the prisoner receive (1) written notice of the claimed violation at least 24 hours before hearing; (2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence (when consistent with institutional safety) to an impartial decision-maker; and (3) a written statement by the fact-finder of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action.” Id. “A disciplinary decision must also be supported by ‘some evidence' to satisfy due process.” Id. (citing Scruggs v. Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 941 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst., Walpole v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985)). “Some evidence” is not a high standard; “it entails less than the ‘substantial evidence' standard commonly used in administrative law, and materially less than the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt' standard used in criminal proceedings.” Grandberry v. Smith, 754 F.3d 425, 426 (7th Cir. 2014).

         Discussion

         Adkins argues that he was denied due process at his disciplinary hearing because he was not given a fair and impartial hearing, and he was not allowed to procure medical records to show he was legally blind in his right eye. (Doc. 1 at 7). Adkins further contends that he is actually innocent of the assault charge because he did not have the requisite intent. Id. In his reply brief, Adkins also argues that he was “not provided with the requested staff member to visit him” before the hearing and “explain the procedure.” (Doc. 5 at 2).

         First, Adkins' argument that his DHO hearing was not fair and impartial is dismissed as conclusory. In his petition, Adkins alleges that he “was not given a fair and impartial DHO hearing, ” but he does not further explain or develop this argument. Unsupported suppositions and conclusory allegations are insufficient to obtain habeas review. See Blintz v. Bertrand, 403 F.3d 859, 864 (7th Cir. 2005) (dismissing arguments on habeas review that petitioner failed to develop); Paters v. United States, 159 F.3d 1043, 1053 (7th Cir. 1998). The Court will not consider this argument any further.

         Next, Adkins argues that he was not allowed to procure medical records for the hearing to show he was legally blind in his right eye. Relatedly, Adkins argues that he is actually innocent of the assault charge because, as he is blind in his right eye, he could not see the BOP staff member and therefore did not intend to brush up against her. These arguments fail in several respects.

         It appears that the DHO did in fact consider Adkins' vision issue, though it rejected that defense as implausible. Adkins did not mention right-eye blindness as a defense during the initial UDC hearing. The written statement Adkins provided at the UDC hearing stated, “I didn't know I bumped into her. I finished my workout and headed to the wellness area, Miss Ruesnick called me over to her and said check yourself, you almost brushed into me when you were running. I apologized for bumping into her.” (Doc. 4-2 at 6). Adkins also provided a written statement to the DHO, but it did not ...


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