United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
Edward Mitchell is serving a life sentence in federal prison,
and he is currently confined at the United States
Penitentiary - Big Sandy in Inez, Kentucky. Proceeding
without a lawyer, Mitchell recently 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. [R. 1]. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will deny Mitchell's petition.
to a Discipline Hearing Officer (DHO) report,  on July 3, 2017,
a correctional officer saw Mitchell in the shower with a
water jug filled with red liquid. The officer ordered
Mitchell to step out of the shower and get on the wall so
that she could search Mitchell's items, but Mitchell
refused the order and knocked over the jug, spilling the red
liquid on the floor and the officer's shoes. According to
the officer, the liquid smelled of intoxicants. The officer
again ordered Mitchell to get on the wall. Mitchell again
refused, and he started walking toward a trash can when the
officer yelled at Mitchell to stop and get on the wall.
According to the officer, Mitchell then “retrieved a
flat piece of metal sharped to a point from his waist band
and placed it inside the trash can as he was bent over
slightly in an attempt to conceal the weapon from my view
while trying to discard of it in the trash can.” The
officer again ordered Mitchell to get on the wall, and
Mitchell complied. The officer then asked a second officer to
place Mitchell in restraints. The officer indicated that she
“retrieved the weapon from where [she saw] inmate
Mitchell place it in the trash can.” The weapon was a
“flat piece of metal . . . sharpened to a point on one
end with brown torn sheet wrapped around the other end used
as a handle. The weapon measured 10 inches in length.”
Ultimately, the officer filled out an incident report and
charged Mitchell with a Code 104 offense for allegedly
possessing a weapon and a Code 115 offense for allegedly
destroying and/or disposing of any item during a search or
attempt to search. [R. 1-1 at 5-6].
disciplinary hearing was held a few days later. At the
hearing, the DHO elected to drop the Code 115 offense and
proceed only on the Code 104 offense. Mitchell then claimed
that he “put five cigarettes in the trash” and
argued that the weapon found belonged to another inmate.
Mitchell also put that other inmate on as a witness, and that
inmate stated that the knife belonged to him, not Mitchell.
[R. 1-1 at 6].
DHO, however, concluded that Mitchell possessed the weapon.
The DHO explained that he was relying on the officer's
incident report, supporting memoranda from two other
officers, a chain of custody log, and a photograph of the
sharpened piece of metal found by the reporting officer. To
be sure, the DHO indicated that he considered the statements
made by Mitchell and the other inmate. However, in the end,
the DHO gave greater weight “to the statement of the
reporting staff, acknowledging the duty and obligation to
report the truth and submit accurate statements.” As a
result, the DHO found that Mitchell “committed the
prohibited act of possession of a weapon.” The DHO
ordered that Mitchell lose 41 days of good conduct time and
also imposed other sanctions. [R. 1-1 at 6-7].
appealed the DHO's decision administratively within the
Bureau of Prisons, but his efforts were unsuccessful.
Mitchell then filed his § 2241 petition with this Court
[R. 1], and this matter is now before the Court on initial
screening pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2243. Ultimately,
Mitchell asks the Court to “step in and expunge the
incident report.” [R. 1 at 2].
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 DHO based his
decision on the report in which the officer described the
incident in question and specifically stated that she saw
Mitchell place the weapon in the trash can before she
retrieved it. The DHO also relied on supporting memoranda
from two other officers (including the officer who placed
Mitchell in restraints), a chain of custody log, and a
photograph of the sharpened piece of metal found by the
reporting officer. While Mitchell continues to argue that the
weapon belonged to another inmate, in light of the foregoing
evidence, the very low threshold set forth in Hill
has clearly been satisfied.
conclusion, there was certainly some evidence to support the
DHO's decision that Mitchell possessed a weapon. Mitchell
also does not argue in his petition that he was denied the
procedural protections that he was due. See Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974).
it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
1. Mitchell's petition for a writ of habeas corpus [R. 1]
2. This action is DISMISSED and
STRICKEN from the Court's docket.
3. A corresponding judgment will be entered ...