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Dobbs v. Davis

United States District Court, S.D. Texas

May 31, 2019

Randall Joe Dobbs, Petitioner,
v.
Lorie Davis, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION

          PETER BRAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Randall Dobbs filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the outcome of a prison disciplinary proceeding. (D.E. 1.) Lorie Davis has moved to transfer venue to the Galveston Division or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (D.E. 13.) The court recommends that Davis's motion for summary judgment be granted and Dobbs's petition be denied with prejudice.

         1. Background

         Dobbs is serving a seven-year sentence for driving while intoxicated. On November 1, 2017, a prison officer filed an offense report alleging that Dobbs hit her hand with a book during a routine search. The offense report stated that Dobbs threw papers at the table where the officer was searching his belongings. The officer twice warned Dobbs but Dobbs went on to strike her hand with a book. The officer was not injured.

         The disciplinary hearing was held on November 3, 2017. Dobbs testified that any contact he made with the officer was an accident. The officer testified that Dobbs intentionally struck her. Another officer who witnessed the incident submitted a statement stating that Dobbs intentionally struck the officer.

         The disciplinary hearing officer found Dobbs guilty. As punishment, the disciplinary officer ordered (1) forty-five days of commissary restriction, telephone restriction, and cell restriction; (2) reduction in line class from S3 to L2; and (3) loss of 250 days of good time.

         Dobbs submitted a step-one grievance, arguing that an investigation would have revealed witnesses who would have exonerated him. The step-one grievance was denied. Dobbs submitted a step-two grievance, arguing that the complaining officer lied, and that another inmate who was sitting across from Dobbs during the search witnessed the actual course of events. The step-two grievance was denied.

         Dobbs filed the present petition seeking federal habeas relief. Lorie Davis moved to transfer venue, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

         2. Venue is proper in the Houston Division.

         Dobbs is incarcerated in the Wayne Scott Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Brazoria County, within the Galveston Division of this district. See 28 U.S.C. § 124(b)(1) (2018). Venue is proper in any division in this district because Mr. Dobbs was convicted and sentenced by a state court located in this district and is in custody within this district. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d).

         Although Dobbs could have filed his petition in the Galveston Division, the parties would not be inconvenienced by retaining venue in the Houston Division. See 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (“For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought . . . .”). Davis has filed the state court records and no evidentiary hearing is necessary. Therefore, the court denies Davis's motion to transfer venue.

         3. Analysis

         Dobbs's federal habeas petition states four grounds for relief: (1) Dobbs is a minimum security risk inmate but is held at a medium security facility; (2) the complaining officer lied at the hearing, and Dobbs's counsel substitute was biased against him; (3) the complaining officer was biased because she previously accused Dobbs of violating another TDCJ policy but the accusation turned out to be false; and (4) the reduction of line class made him ineligible for parole.

         Davis argues that Dobbs failed to exhaust all claims except for his claim that the complaining officer lied. Davis argues that sufficient evidence supports the outcome of the prison disciplinary hearing and ...


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