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Myers v. Davis

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

April 6, 2018

SPENCER DALE MYERS, Petitioner,
v.
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          LEE ANN RENO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner has filed with this Court a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding that took place at the Powledge Trustee Unit in Anderson County, Texas. Petitioner is currently incarcerated at the Neal Unit in Potter County, Texas. The undersigned United States Magistrate Judge is of the opinion petitioner's application for federal habeas corpus relief should be DENIED.

         I. DISCIPLINARY CHARGE AND PROCEEDINGS

         During an interview conducted May 13, 2015, petitioner “admitted sharing personal information about his marriage” with a staff member at the Powledge Trustee Unit and “convincing” that staff member “to allow him to use the State issued cell phone to make personal calls to his wife.” [ECF 18-2 at 4]. Consequently, petitioner was charged with the Level 2 offense of “Establishing an inappropriate relationship with a staff member” under 30.2 of the TDCJ-CID Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Offenders. Specifically it was alleged that petitioner:

[Did] establish an inappropriate relationship with TCI Supervisor, Jeremy Crutcher, which jeopardized the security of the agency and compromise[d] the effectiveness of the employee by sharing personal information in order to gain access from Mr. Crutcher to his state cell phone to make personal calls.

[ECF 18-2 at 3]. On the morning of May 15, 2015, petitioner was notified of the charges, indicated in writing that he did not wish to attend a hearing on the charges and, although not entirely clear, possibly indicated he wished to plead guilty. [Id.]. Petitioner also waived, in writing, his right to 24-hour notice of the hearing and authorized the Hearing Officer to proceed with the hearing. [Id.].

         In the Service Investigation Work Sheet completed that same date, counsel substitute for petitioner indicated petitioner was pleading guilty, and would not be requesting any witnesses or documentary evidence at the disciplinary hearing. [ECF 18-2 at 7]. The work sheet further indicated petitioner made the following statement:

I apologize to Mr. Crutcher and the Powledge staff for this selfish act. I will do anything that may help to rectify the situation so that I may not be reduced in line class, custody status and so I can return home to my wife, children and church.

[Id.]. On the afternoon of May 15, 2015, a Hearing Officer conducted the hearing without petitioner present, noting on the Hearing Worksheet that petitioner “refused to attend” the hearing. [ECF 18-2 at 9]. The Hearing Officer indicated that although petitioner pled guilty to the charge, counsel substitute entered a not guilty plea on petitioner's behalf. [Id.] At the hearing, the charging offense report was read and petitioner's above statement was presented. After a statement by counsel substitute on petitioner's behalf, the Hearing Officer recessed the hearing to make his decision.

         The Hearing Officer found petitioner guilty of the charged offense based on the officer's report and “no non-frivolous evidence, ” and assessed punishment that included the forfeiture of thirty (30) days previously accrued good time credit[1] due to petitioner “compromis[ing] the employee.” [ECF 18-2 at 3]. As indicated in his worksheet, the Hearing Officer recognized petitioner's cooperation and lack of history of similar offenses and took into consideration petitioner's above statement and counsel substitute's request for leniency in making his determination. [ECF 18-2 at 9].

         Petitioner unsuccessfully challenged this disciplinary proceeding through the prison grievance system. On June 24, 2015, relief was denied at Step 1 with the following response:

Disciplinary case #20150261528 has been reviewed and no procedural errors were noted. There was sufficient evidence to support the guilty verdict. All due process requirements were satisfied and the punishment imposed was within established guidelines. Offenders who establish inappropriate relationships with staff will be held accountable in accordance with policy. This is a valid case.

[ECF 18-1 at 4]. On August 10, 2015, relief was denied at Step 2 with findings that there was sufficient evidence to sustain the charge and the finding of guilt, that the hearing was conducted per policy with no due process or procedural errors being noted, and that the punishment assessed was within agency guidelines. [ECF 18-1 at 6].

         Having unsuccessfully challenged the case administratively, petitioner then filed the instant habeas petition challenging ...


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