United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
H.BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Crumpton (TDCJ #1693457), is a state inmate incarcerated in
the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional
Institutions Division (TDCJ). Crumpton has filed a petition
for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to
challenge the result of a prison disciplinary conviction. He
has also filed a memorandum in support of the petition. After
reviewing all of the pleadings and the applicable law under
Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the
United States District Courts, the Court concludes that this
case must be dismissed. The reasons are explained below.
is presently serving a 15-year prison sentence that he
received as the result of a conviction for aggravated robbery
in Tarrant County Cause Number 1189773D. Crumpton does not
challenge that conviction here. Instead, he challenges the
result of a prison disciplinary proceeding that was lodged
against him at the Huntsville Unit, where he is currently
explains that he was charged with possession of tobacco in
TDCJ disciplinary case #20170284421. After a disciplinary
hearing on May 26, 2017, Crumpton was found guilty as
charged. As punishment, Crumpton was reduced in
classification status from S2 to Line 1 and forfeited 30 days
of previously earned good-time credit. He also spent 15 days
in solitary confinement and 45 days on cell restriction
without commissary and recreation privileges. Crumpton filed
a step 1 and step 2 grievance to challenge the conviction,
but his appeal was unsuccessful.
now seeks federal habeas corpus relief from his disciplinary
conviction. In his pending petition, Crumpton argues that
there was insufficient evidence to support a guilty finding
and that he is actually innocent of the disciplinary offense.
(Docket Entry No. I, at 6). For reasons set forth below, the
Court finds that Crumpton fails to stajte an actionable claim
under the legal standard that governs disciplinary
proceedings in the prison context.
Prison Disciplinary Proceedings
inmate's rights in the prison disciplinary setting are
governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution. See Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 557 (1974). Prisoners charged
with institutional rules violations are entitled to rights
under the Due Process Clause only when the
disciplinary action may result in a sanction that will
infringe upon a constitutionally protected liberty interest;
See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995).
A Texas prisoner can demonstrate a constitutional violation
in the prison disciplinary context only if he first satisfies
the following criteria: (1) he must be eligible for early
release on the form of parole known as mandatory supervision;
and (2) the disciplinary conviction at issue must have
resulted in a loss of previously earned good-time credit.
See Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 957-58 (5th Cir.
2000) (explaining that only those Texas inmates who are
eligible for early release on mandatory supervision have a
protected liberty interest in their previously earned
cannot demonstrate a constitutional violation in this
instance. Although Crumpton lost good-time credit as a result
of the challenged disciplinary conviction, he is not eligible
for mandatory supervision because of his holding conviction
for aggravated robbery. See Tex. Gov'tCode §
508.149(a)(12) (excluding prisoners convicted ofaggravated
robbery from eligibility for mandatory supervision). This is
fatal to Crumpton's claims. See Malchi, 211 F.3d
the disciplinary conviction at issue also resulted in
temporary solitary confinement, cell restriction, a loss of
privileges, and a reduction in classification status, the
Fifth Circuit has recognized that sanctions such as these,
which are "merely changes in the conditions of [an
inmate's] confinement, " do not implicate due
process concerns. Madison v. Parker, 104 F.3d 765,
768 (5th Cir. 1997). Limitations imposed on commissary or
recreational privileges, and a cell restriction or solitary
confinement on a temporary basis are the type of sanctions
that do not pose an atypical or significant hardship beyond
the ordinary incidents of prison life. See Id.
Likewise, reductions in a prisoner's custodial
classification and the potential impact on good-time credit
earning ability are too attenuated to be protected by the Due
Process Clause. See Malchi, 211 F.3d at 958;
Luken v. Scott, 71 F.3d 192;, 193 (5th Cir. 1995);
Neals v. Norwood, 59 F.3d 530, 533 (5th Cir. 1995).
Under these circumstances, Crumpton cannot demonstrate a
violation of the Due Process Clause and his pending federal
habeas corpus petition must be dismissed.
Certificate of Appealability
of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases now requires a
district cojurt to issue or deny a certificate of
appealability when entering a final order that is adverse to
the petitioner. A certificate of appealability will not issue
unless the petitioner makes "a substantial showing of
the denial of a constitutional right, " 28 U.S.C. §
2253(c)(2), which requires a petitioner to
demonstrate "that reasonable jurists would find the
district court's assessment of the constitutional claims
debatable or wrong." Tennard v. Dretke, 542
U.S. 274, 282 (2004) (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473, 484 (2000)). A certificate of appealability is
required before an appeal may proceed. See Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336 (2003); see also
Hallmarkv. Johnson, 118 F.3d 1073, 1076 (5th Cir. 1997)
(noting that actions filed under either 28 U.S.C. § 2254
or § 2255 require a certificate of appealability).
district court may deny a certificate of appealability,
sua sponte, without requiring further briefing or
argument. See Alexander v. Johnson, 211 F.3d 895,
898 (5th Cir. 2000). After careful review of the pleadings
and the applicable law, the Court concludes that reasonable
jurists would not find the assessment of the constitutional
claims debatable or wrong. Because the petitioner does not
otherwise allege facts showing that his claims Could be
resolved in a different manner, a certificate of
appealability will not issue in this case.