United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division
ORDER ADOPTING MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATION
GONZALES RAMOS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is the initial screening of the
above-captioned habeas corpus action. On September 4, 2019,
United States Magistrate Judge Jason B. Libby issued a
Memorandum and Recommendation (M&R, D.E. 26),
recommending that Petitioner's action be dismissed, and
that a Certificate of Appealability be denied. Petitioner did
not timely file objections directed to the M&R. However,
he did file complaints that touch upon the issues in the
M&R in the course of stating Objections (D.E. 28)
directed to procedural rulings pre-dating the M&R. The
Court considers those Objections, only to the extent they are
relevant to the M&R.
basis of the M&R's recommendation of dismissal is
that Petitioner is not eligible for mandatory supervision and
none of the punishments he received in the order on his
disciplinary case implicate a liberty interest protected by
the due process clause of the United States Constitution.
Therefore, this action fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted.
Petitioner objects that he has not had sufficient time to
research this issue in the prison law library. However, he
admits that he has been aware of the issue since receiving
the show cause order on August 12, 2019. D.E. 28, p. 1. He
complains that he has been too busy with other litigation to
adequately research this issue and “reserves the right
to file an amended response to the Order to Show Cause at a
later date.” D.E. 28, p. 4.
time Petitioner filed this explanation, he had had six weeks
to research what is a well-settled matter of law: that a
Texas inmate who is not eligible for mandatory supervision
does not have a liberty interest in good time credits to
support a habeas action when those credits are lost in a
disciplinary case. Neither do any of the other lost
privileges support habeas relief, as set out in the M&R.
The Court OVERRULES the first objection.
Petitioner cites the dissenting opinions in Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472 (1995), for the proposition that a
deprivation of a liberty interest supported a due process
claim. In that case, the majority decision held that
administrative segregation as a disciplinary matter did not
implicate a liberty interest to support application of the
Due Process Clause. Id. at 487. While the dissenting
opinions that Petitioner relies on disagreed, his case does
not involve a lengthy administrative segregation punishment.
That holding is irrelevant.
while the Sandin case discusses due process rights
in the context of the loss of good time credits under
Nebraska law, the Nebraska law differs from Texas law.
Id. at 477-80 (discussing Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974)). Under the Texas
statute, inmates not eligible for release to mandatory
supervision do not have a liberty interest in good time
credits. Arnold v. Cockrell, 306 F.3d 277, 278 (5th
Cir. 2002); Madison v. Parker, 104 F.3d 765, 769
(5th Cir. 1997) (distinguishing Wolff and remanding
for a determination whether the inmate was eligible for
mandatory release). Because Petitioner has admitted that he
is not eligible for release to mandatory supervision, he has
no liberty interest in his good time credits and, thus, no
right to complain of a deprivation of due process in the
disciplinary proceeding. Petitioner's second objection is
Petitioner claims that issues regarding mandatory supervision
are not dispositive because the gravamen of his complaint is
his assertion of actual innocence and complaint that the
evidence used against him was fabricated. D.E. 28, p. 7.
Actual innocence and newly discovered exculpatory evidence
may trigger due process complaints regarding a criminal
conviction that results in the imposition of a sentence of
incarceration, depriving the defendant of his liberty as a
free man. But it does not trigger due process rights in
connection with a disciplinary proceeding that does not
implicate a liberty interest. E.g., Shields v.
Thaler, No. 2:12-CV-00319, 2013 WL 1948121, at *1 (S.D.
Tex. May 9, 2013).
cannot assert the violation of due process rights without
first establishing that a liberty interest has been
infringed. Because he is not eligible for release to
mandatory supervision, his punishments do not implicate the
necessary liberty interest. For that reason, his claim of
actual innocence and other due process claims are not
cognizable in this action. The Court OVERRULES
Petitioner's third objection.
reviewed the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and
recommendations set forth in the Magistrate Judge's
Memorandum and Recommendation, as well as Petitioner's
Objections, and all other relevant documents in the record,
and having made a de novo disposition of the portions of the
Magistrate Judge's Memorandum and Recommendation to which
objections were specifically directed, the Court
OVERRULES Petitioner's Objections and
ADOPTS as its own the findings and
conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. Accordingly,
Petitioner's Petition for a ...