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Bailey v. Davis

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division

September 13, 2019

CHARLES RAY BAILEY, TDCJ #01486071, Petitioner,
v.
LORIE DAVIS, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JEFFREY VINCENT BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner Charles Ray Bailey is an inmate in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Correctional Institutions Division (“TDCJ”). He filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to challenge a prison disciplinary proceeding (Dkt. 1). Respondent has filed an answer (Dkt. 11) and a copy of the state court records (Dkt. 12). Petitioner did not file a reply to the answer, but has filed a motion for discovery (Dkt. 8). Having now considered the petition, the answer, all matters of record, and the applicable legal authorities, the Court determines that the petition should be dismissed.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Bailey is serving a life sentence for capital murder, Case Number 956856, 176th District Court of Harris County. His petition does not challenge his conviction or sentence. Rather, he seeks relief from a conviction for fighting without a weapon at the Clemens Unit on July 23, 2018, in disciplinary case number 20180304925 (Dkt. 12-2, at 3; Dkt. 1, at 5). TDCJ held a disciplinary hearing and Respondent has submitted the hearing's written records (Dkt. 12-2) and audio recording (Dkt. 12-3). At the hearing, Bailey was convicted and punished by forty-five days recreation restriction, forty-five days commissary restriction, forty-five days cell restriction, forty-five days offender telephone use restriction, and reduction in line class from S3 to L1, but he did not lose good-time days (Dkt. 12-2, at 3). He unsuccessfully appealed the conviction through TDCJ's two-step administrative grievance procedure (Dkt. 12-1). Bailey acknowledges that he is not eligible for release on mandatory supervision and that he did not lose good-time days (Dkt. 1, at 5).

         II. PRISON DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

         As a preliminary matter, this Court may hear Bailey's petition because, at the time he filed his petition, he was incarcerated at the Clemens Unit in Brazoria County, which is within the boundaries of the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas. See 28 U.S.C. § 2241(d); 28 U.S.C. § 124(b)(1); Wadsworth v. Johnson, 235 F.3d 959, 961 (5th Cir. 2000).

         Bailey claims in his petition that he was denied due process during the disciplinary proceedings and that racial disparities in TDCJ discipline violate his rights under the Equal Protection Clause.

         A. Due Process

         An 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); Driggers v. Cruz, 740 F.3d 333, 338 (5th Cir. 2014). A Texas prisoner cannot demonstrate a due process violation in the prison disciplinary context without first satisfying 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).

         In this case, Bailey's life sentence renders him ineligible for release on mandatory supervision. See Arnold v. Cockrell, 306 F.3d 277, 279 & n.7 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Ex parte Franks, 71 S.W.3d 327 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001)). Moreover, his disciplinary conviction did not result in any lost good-time credits. He therefore fails to demonstrate a due process violation. See Malchi, 211 F.3d at 957-58. Although Bailey's disciplinary conviction resulted in a sanctions affecting his privileges, such as those for recreation or commissary, the Fifth Circuit has held that such sanctions are “merely changes in the conditions of [an inmate's] confinement” and do not implicate due process concerns. Madison v. Parker, 104 F.3d 765, 768 (5th Cir. 1997).

         Bailey's due process claim will be dismissed.

         B. Equal Protection

         Bailey claims that his right to equal protection of the laws was violated during the disciplinary hearing process because of “racial disparities in discipline” (Dkt. 1, at 6). He alleges that he was disciplined for a fight with a white inmate and that he, a black male, received the maximum disciplinary sanction while the white inmate received “light or no sanctions for the same offense” (id.). He seeks injunctive relief ordering an audit of statistical disparities, among other relief (id. at 7).

         Respondent argues that Bailey failed to exhaust his equal protection claim during administrative grievance procedures. The Court need not address the exhaustion issue because the claim fails on the merits. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2) (“An application for a writ of habeas corpus may be denied on the merits, notwithstanding the ...


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