United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Respondent's Motion to
Dismiss Habeas Petition as Moot (Doc. 44). Petitioner Robert
Decker brought this habeas action pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241, challenging the loss of 57 days good conduct
credits imposed as the result of a prison disciplinary
motion, Respondent reports that the Bureau of Prisons
voluntarily remanded the incident report that led to
Decker's punishment for a rehearing. (Doc. 44, p. 2; Doc.
44-1, p. 2). As a result of the remand, the incident report
no longer appears on Decker's disciplinary record, and
the 57 days of good conduct credits were restored to Decker
on March 1, 2019. Id.
has filed a response opposing the motion (Docs. 48,
Additionally, Decker filed a Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings (Doc. 54) and a letter that is construed as a
motion for status (Doc. 55).
Decker, who is serving a 140-month sentence, filed this
action in the Southern District of Indiana on January 24,
2018, while he was incarcerated in the USP-Terre Haute. On
June 11, 2018, Decker filed a Second Amended Petition (Doc.
28), specifying that he was challenging the loss of good
conduct time as a result of Incident Report Number 2940591.
August 23, 2018, the case was transferred to this District
after Decker was moved to the USP-Marion. (Doc. 32). On
February 6, 2019 (Doc. 42), this Court granted Decker's
motion for leave to file his Third Amended Petition (Doc.
43), which is the operative pleading in this matter. On April
1, 2019, Decker notified the Court that he had been
transferred back to the USP-Terre Haute. In anticipation of
this transfer, Respondent waived any objection to venue and
personal jurisdiction. (Doc. 44, p. 2).
Petition seeks restoration of 57 days of lost good conduct
time that resulted from Incident Report 2940591, issued on
January 17, 2017, for his alleged “use of the mail for
an illegal purpose” and “threatening
another.” (Doc. 43, p. 2). Decker was notified that his
letter which prompted the incident report was mailed on
January 1, 2017, but he was never given a copy of that
letter. Id. At the disciplinary hearing, however,
Decker was found guilty based on a letter mailed on January
15, 2017, not January 1. (Doc. 43, pp. 4-5). He argues that
he was denied due process by the failure to notify him of the
basis for the charge so that he could prepare a defense.
Further, he was denied the assistance of a staff
representative, and was not permitted to review the evidence
from his monitored phone calls, which was considered by the
hearing officer (without notice to Decker) in rendering his
decision. (Doc. 43, pp. 3-5). Finally, he claims that he was
punished twice for the same offense. (Doc. 43, pp. 6-7).
“The inability to review moot cases stems from the
requirement of Article III of the Constitution which limits
the exercise of judicial power to live cases or
controversies.” A.M. v. Butler, 360 F.3d 787,
790 (7th Cir. 2004). The Seventh Circuit directs a federal
court to “dismiss a case as moot when it cannot give
the petitioner any effective relief.” Ibid. In
situations like Decker's, where the administrative remedy
process has resulted in rescission of the disciplinary action
and a rehearing has been ordered but has not yet taken place,
courts have found that habeas petitions based on
irregularities in the original hearing are moot or premature,
and subject to dismissal. See, e.g., Craft v.
Jones, 473 Fed.Appx. 843, 845-46 (10th Cir. 2012)
(claims arising from disciplinary action became moot when
sanctions were set aside and a rehearing was ordered);
Martinez v. Fisher, No. 13-CV-1150, 2015 WL 3756150,
at *3 (D. Minn. June 11, 2015) (collecting cases); Louis
v. Carlson, No. 14-cv-3126, 2014 WL 5091720, at *2
(E.D.N.Y. Oct. 9, 2014) (denying petition as moot where
rehearing process was underway); Nasheed v. Sepanek,
No. 12-cv-65, 2013 WL 323947, at *2-3 (E.D. Ky. Jan. 28,
2013) (habeas petition was premature until completion of
rehearing and exhaustion of administrative challenge in the
event that inmate's good conduct credits were again
juncture, Decker is no longer subject to the outcome of the
original, allegedly flawed, disciplinary hearing which
prompted the instant Petition. His claims of constitutional
violations in that proceeding are therefore moot. The 57 days
of good conduct credit have been restored, thus he has
received that portion of the relief sought in this action.
Decker also requested the Court to vacate his incident
report. Respondent represents that Incident Report Number
2940591 no longer appears on Decker's disciplinary
record, pursuant to the BOP's action. The Court therefore
concludes that it cannot give Decker any effective relief.
Court recognizes that the disciplinary matter is being
scheduled for rehearing with a new Discipline Hearing Officer
(“DHO”), at which Decker should be afforded the
protections set forth in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539 (1974). Before the rehearing, Decker should be given
notice of the basis for the charges, and he should have the
opportunity for staff representation and examination of the
evidence against him, to present his defense, and to call
witnesses. The rehearing may result in a finding that Decker
is not guilty, or he may face some disciplinary sanction. If
punishment is imposed, Decker will have the opportunity to
challenge any adverse outcome through the administrative
remedy procedures, and potentially to bring another habeas
action in the appropriate federal court after exhausting
administrative remedies. It does not appear that Decker will
be prejudiced by the length of time it will take to obtain
any future judicial review, as he is not scheduled for
release until January 2027. (Doc. 44, p. 3). At this time,
any constitutional claim that Decker might assert regarding
the upcoming rehearing is premature, and the case does not
present a “live case or controversy.”
Disposition For the reasons set forth above,
Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Habeas Petition as Moot
(Doc. 44) is GRANTED. This habeas corpus
action is DISMISSED without prejudice as
moot, and all pending motions are TERMINATED as
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to enter judgment
in accordance with this order.
Decker wishes to appeal the dismissal of this action, his
notice of appeal must be filed with this Court within 60 days
of the entry of judgment. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1(A). A motion
for leave to appeal in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) must set forth the issues Decker plans to
present on appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 24(a)(1)(C).
If Decker does choose to appeal and is allowed to proceed
IFP, he will be liable for a portion of the $505.00 appellate
filing fee (the amount to be determined based on his prison
trust fund account records for the past six months)
irrespective of the outcome of the appeal. See Fed.
R. App. P. 3(e); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); Ammons v.
Gerlinger, 547 F.3d 724, 725-26 (7th Cir. 2008);
Sloan v. Lesza, 181 F.3d 857, 858-59 (7th Cir.
1999); Lucien v.Jockisch,133 F.3d 464,
467 (7th Cir. 1998). A proper and timely motion filed
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) may toll
the 60-day appeal deadline. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4). A Rule