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Keith v. Davis

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

January 8, 2018

LINCOLN KEITH, Petitioner,
v.
LORIE DAVIS, Director, TDCJ-CID, Respondent.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          PAUL D. STICKNEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This cause of action was referred to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to the provisions of Title 28, United States Code, Section 636 (b), as implemented by an order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The Findings, Conclusions and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge follow:

         I.

         Petitioner is an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division (“TDCJ-CID”). He filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner does not challenge the validity of his underlying conviction and sentence. Instead, he challenges a prison disciplinary violation, number 20160131804, in which he was convicted of possession of a cell phone charger while incarcerated. For the foregoing reasons, the petition should be denied.

         On January 8, 2016, Petitioner was found guilty of the disciplinary offense. Punishment was assessed at forty-five days loss of commissary privileges, forty-five days loss of phone privileges, a reduction in line-class status, a reduction in custody status, and loss of 30 days of good-time credit.

         On August 19, 2016, Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 petition. He argues there was no evidence to support the disciplinary conviction.

         II.

         1. Good-Time Credits

         Petitioner challenges the loss of his good-time credits. Prisoners charged with disciplinary violations are entitled to certain due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when the disciplinary action results in a sanction that infringes on a liberty interest. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). In Texas, only those sanctions that result in the loss of good-time credits for inmates who are eligible for release on mandatory supervision, or that otherwise directly and adversely affect release on mandatory supervision, impinge on a protected liberty interest. Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 957-58 (5th Cir. 2000).

         In this case, Petitioner is not eligible for release to mandatory supervision. Petitioner was previously convicted of capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison. The mandatory supervision statute in effect at the time Petitioner committed capital murder stated that an inmate is ineligible for mandatory supervision if the inmate was incarcerated for capital murder. Tex. Gov't Code § 42.18 sec. 8(c) (West 1994). Since Petitioner is ineligible for mandatory supervised release, the loss of good-time credits did not implicate a protected liberty interest. Malchi, 211 F.3d at 956-58.

         2. Remaining Claims

         Petitioner also challenges the loss of commissary privileges, reduction in line classification, loss of phone privileges, and demotion in custody status. These claims, however, do not implicate a protected constitutional interest. See Madison v. Parker, 104 F.3d 765, 768 (5th Cir. 1997) (stating commissary and cell restrictions do not impose a significant or atypical hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life); Luken v. Scott, 71 F.3d 192, 19395th Cir. 1995) (stating reductions in line-class status do not implicate due process concerns); Hernandez v. Velasquez, 522 F.3d 556, 562-64 (5th Cir. 2008) (finding that in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, administrative segregation does not impose atypical and significant hardship required to trigger due process protection); Allums v. Phillips, 444 Fed.Appx. 840, 841 (5th Cir. 2011) (“Placement in administrative segregation or a change in custodial classification as a result of a disciplinary infraction, without more, does not constitute a deprivation of a constitutionally cognizable liberty interest, and, therefore, there is no right to due process.”). Petitioner's claims should be denied.

         III.

         This Court recommends that the petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to ...


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