United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. Wilhoilt, Jr. United States District Judge
Stallworth is a federal prisoner confined at the Federal
Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky. Proceeding
without a lawyer, Stallworth has filed a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in which
he challenges the imposition of disciplinary sanctions
against him. [D. E. No. 1]. For the reasons set forth below,
the Court will deny Stallworth's petition.
2016, according to a prison incident report, an officer used
a handheld metal detector to search Stallworth as he was
exiting the bathroom. [D. E. No. 1-8 at 1]. The search
yielded a positive result near Stallworth's groin, and
the officer instructed Stallworth to hand over the object.
[Id.]. Stallworth complied, reached into his pants,
and turned over a cell phone. [Id.]. The officer
filled out an incident report and charged Stallworth with a
Code 108 offense, possession of a hazardous tool.
disciplinary hearing was held a few days later. [Id.
at 7]. At the hearing, Stallworth disputed the officer's
description of the incident and claimed that the officer
found the cell phone in a bathroom stall that Stallworth had
not been using. [Id. at 8]. Stallworth also argued,
among other things, that there was "no way he could
conceal a phone in his groin area while wearing just
discipline hearing officer (DHO), however, concluded that
Stallworth possessed the cell phone. [Id. at 9]. The
DHO explained that he was relying on the prison officer's
incident report, attached photograph of the confiscated cell
phone, and other evidence in the record. [Id.]. To
be sure, the DHO indicated that he considered
Stallworth's denial and explanation, including
Stallworth's claim that he "could not possibly"
have hidden a cell phone in the clothes he was wearing.
[Id.]. But, in the end, the DHO gave "greater
weight to the officer's account of the incident" and
found "a strong measure of evidence present to
support" the charge. [Id.]. The DHO ordered
that Stallworth lose 41 days of good conduct time and imposed
a series of other sanctions. [Id.].
appealed the DHO's decision administratively within the
Bureau of Prisons, but his efforts were unsuccessful.
Stallworth then filed his § 2241 petition with this
Court. [D. E. No. 1]. Stallworth asks the Court to enter an
order "expunging his disciplinary conviction from his
[prison] record and reinstating his 41 days of forfeited good
conduct time." [Id. at 4].
principal question before this Court is whether there was
"some evidence" in the record to support the
DHO's decision in this case. See Superintendent v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Selby v.
Caruso, 734 F.3d 554, 559 (6th Cir. 2013). This is a
very low threshold. Indeed, the Court does not examine the
entire record or independently assess the credibility of
witnesses. Hill, 472 U.S. at 455. Instead, the Court
merely asks "whether there is any evidence in
the record that could support the conclusion reached by the
disciplinary board." Id. at 455-56 (emphasis
added); see also Higgs v. Bland, 888 F.2d 443,
448-49 (6th Cir. 1989) (discussing this standard).
case, there was certainly some evidence in the record to
support the DHO's decision. After all, the prison officer
who conducted the search indicated that he found the cell
phone on Stallworth's person. [D. E. No. 1-8 at 1]. The
officer also submitted a photograph of the cell phone. [D. E.
No. 1-8 at 8]. The DHO then relied on this and other evidence
in deciding that Stallworth possessed the cell phone.
[Id. at 7-10].
however, argues that he was denied a procedural protection he
was due. Specifically, Stallworth claims that the DHO refused
to allow him to present the clothing he was wearing during
the incident in question. [D. E. No. 1 at 3]. Stallworth
suggests that if he would have been allowed to present the
clothing as evidence, the DHO would have determined that
"he did not have a cell phone on his person and that the
clothing ... he had on would not allow him to conceal and
carry a cell phone in his genital area." [Id.].
certainly true that Stallworth is entitled to present
evidence in his defense. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539, 563-66 (1974). However, the DHO indicated
"that he considered all evidence presented at the
hearing." [D. E. No. 1-2 at 8], Moreover, even if
Stallworth was not permitted to formally present the clothing
he was wearing, the Court finds that any such error on the
DHO's part was "not of constitutional magnitude
under the facts of this case." Hatch v. Wilson,
No. 09-cv-109-GFVT, 2009 WL 2877222, *8 (E.D. Ky. 2009).
After all, the DHO specifically considered and rejected
Stallworth's argument regarding his prison clothing and
relied on the evidence in the record to sustain the charge in
this case. [D. E. No. 1-8 at 9-10].
conclusion, there was some evidence to support the DHO's
decision that Stallworth possessed the cell phone, and the
DHO did not run afoul of Stallworth's due process rights.
it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
Stallworth's petition for a writ of habeas corpus [D. E.
No. 1] is DENIED.
action is DISMISSED and