United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Wichita Falls Division
PAUL EUGENE LAWSON, TDCJ No. 0675063, Petitioner,
LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
RAY, JR., UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Petitioner Paul Eugene Lawson's
(“Lawson”) Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
filed February 8, 2019. (ECF No. 1). Lawson, an inmate
confined in the James V. Allred Unit of the Texas Department
of Criminal Justice in Iowa Park, Texas, brings this action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. (Id.). On
February 8, 2019, the petition was automatically referred to
the undersigned for decisions as to non-dispositive matters
and for findings and recommendations as to dispositive
matters pursuant to Special Order No. 3-251. (See
ECF No. 2). After considering the petition and applicable
law, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that Chief
United States District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn
DENY Lawson's petition for writ of
habeas corpus (ECF No. 1).
petition, Lawson challenges the validity of disciplinary
action no. 20180101771, which was taken against him at the
Allred Unit for the offense of “Disciplinary Code 8.0
Riot.” (ECF No. 1 at 5). Pursuant to the Texas
Department of Criminal Justice-Correctional Institutions
Division (“TDCJ-CID”) Disciplinary Rules and
Procedures for Offenders, a Level 1, Code 8.0 violation is
“when an offender, with two or more persons,
participates in conduct that creates danger of damage to
property or injury to persons [sic] substantially obstructs
the performance of unit operations.” Disciplinary
Rules and Procedures for Offenders, TDCJ-CID,
English.pdf, at 33 (last visited March 13, 2019). Lawson
states that his disciplinary case resulted in 30 days of
good-time credit lost, 45 days of commissary and recreation
restrictions, and a reset of his Line 3 custodial
classification. (Id.). Lawson specifically notes in
his petition that a reset of his Line 3 custodial
classification prolongs by twelve months his ability to
qualify for a custodial classification promotion.
support of his petition, Lawson claims that the hearing
officer did not provide him an opportunity to review the
video footage and did not allow him to cross-examine
witnesses. (Id. at 6). He also claims there is
insufficient evidence to support his disciplinary conviction.
(Id.). Lawson seeks reversal of his disciplinary
conviction, restoration of his good-time credits, and an
upgrade in his custodial classification. (Id. at 7).
has failed to state a colorable claim for habeas corpus
relief. He has no constitutionally protected interest in his
custodial classification or in his good-time earning status.
See Luken v. Scott, 71 F.3d 192, 193 (5th Cir. 1995)
(recognizing that “[t]he loss of the opportunity to
earn good-time credits, which might lead to earlier parole,
is a collateral consequence of [an inmate's] custodial
status” and, thus, does not create a constitutionally
protected liberty interest). Similarly, a reduction in
good-time earning status will not support a due process claim
because the timing of the inmate's release is too
speculative to afford a constitutionally cognizable claim in
a “right” to a time-earning classification.
Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 959 (5th Cir. 2000).
Therefore, to the extent Lawson's custodial
classification was to improve in the future, the reset of his
Line 3 custodial classification does not warrant due process
concedes that he is not eligible for mandatory supervised
release. (ECF No. 1 at 5). Therefore, he had no
constitutionally protected liberty interest at stake during
the disciplinary proceeding. See Madison v. Parker,
104 F.3d 765, 769 (5th Cir. 1997) (holding that the state may
create a constitutionally protected liberty interest
requiring a higher level of due process where good-time
credits are forfeited in a disciplinary action against an
inmate eligible for mandatory supervised release). Absent
such a liberty interest, due process does not attach to a
prison disciplinary action.
loss of recreation and imposition of a commissary restriction
that Lawson sustained are changes in the conditions of
confinement and do not pose an atypical or significant
hardship beyond the ordinary incidents of prison life.
See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995)
(holding that a prisoner's liberty interest is
“generally limited to freedom from restraint which . .
. imposes atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in
relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life”).
Constitutional concerns could arise where restrictions on
privileges represent atypical and significant hardship in
relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life. However,
temporary restrictions such as those imposed against Lawson
do not raise such concerns.
foregoing reasons, the undersigned
RECOMMENDS that the petition for writ of
habeas corpus be DENIED. In light of this
recommendation, the undersigned RECOMMENDS
that Lawson's motion and amended motion in intervention
(ECF Nos. 7, 12), motion to join the real party in interest
(ECF No. 19), and any similar motions filed after the entry
of this recommendation be DENIED as moot.
of this Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendation shall be
served on all parties in the manner provided by law. Any
party who objects to any part of this Findings, Conclusions,
and Recommendation must file specific written objections
within 14 days after being served with a copy. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(1). In
order to be specific, an objection must identify the specific
finding or recommendation to which objection is made, state
the basis for the objection, and specify the place in the
magistrate judge's findings, conclusions, and
recommendation where the disputed determination is found. An
objection that merely incorporates by reference or refers to
the briefing before the magistrate judge is not specific.
Failure to file specific written objections will bar the
aggrieved party from appealing the factual findings ...