(HC)Ram v. Warden
ORDER DENYING Petitioner's 15 Motion to Compel Discovery and 17 Motion for Deposition signed by Magistrate Judge Erica P. Grosjean on 9/16/2022. (Sant Agata, S)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Case No. 1:21-cv-01520-JLT-EPG-HC
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER’S
MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY AND
MOTION FOR DEPOSITION
(ECF Nos. 15, 17)
Petitioner Santosh Ram is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of
18 habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding.
The undersigned previously issued findings and recommendation recommending that
20 Respondent’s motion to dismiss (based on exhaustion grounds) be denied and the petition be
21 denied on the merits. (ECF No. 12.) The Court received Petitioner’s objections to the findings
22 and recommendation, which indicated that Petitioner never received a copy of Respondent’s
23 response to the petition. (ECF No. 13 at 1.) Therefore, the Court vacated the findings and
24 recommendation and ordered Petitioner to file a response to Respondent’s motion to dismiss.
25 (ECF No. 14.)
Petitioner now moves to compel discovery and for a deposition of an ex-disciplinary
27 hearing officer. (ECF Nos. 15, 17.) Respondent has filed an opposition. (ECF No. 20.) Petitioner
Page numbers refer to the ECF page numbers stamped at the top of the page.
1 has not filed a reply, and the time for doing so has passed. Although discovery is available
2 pursuant to Rule 6 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the United States District
3 Courts,2 it is only granted at the Court’s discretion, and upon a showing of good cause. Bracy v.
4 Gramley, 520 U.S. 899, 904 (1997) (“A habeas petitioner . . . is not entitled to discovery as a
5 matter of ordinary course.”); McDaniel v. U.S. District Court (Jones), 127 F.3d 886, 888 (9th
6 Cir. 1997); Jones v. Wood, 114 F.3d 1002, 1009 (9th Cir. 1997); Habeas Rule 6(a). Good cause
7 is shown “where specific allegations before the court show reason to believe that the petitioner
8 may, if the facts are fully developed, be able to demonstrate that he is . . . entitled to relief.”
9 Bracy, 520 U.S. at 908–09 (citing Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 287 (1969)). If good cause is
10 shown, the extent and scope of discovery is within the Court’s discretion. See Habeas Rule 6(a).
In the instant case, Petitioner challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding in which he was
12 found to have committed assault. The incident allegedly occurred when officers were escorting
13 Petitioner to a new cell. (ECF No. 1.) Petitioner requests production of CCTV video footage of
14 the incident and a deposition of an ex-disciplinary hearing officer who was originally assigned to
15 Petitioner’s disciplinary proceeding, allegedly postponed Petitioner’s hearing because he did not
16 want to find Petitioner guilty due to lack of evidence, and eventually was coerced to resign. (ECF
17 Nos. 15, 17.) Petitioner contends that the requested evidence will establish his innocence, the
18 bias of the disciplinary hearing officer, the unfairness of the proceedings, and the officers’
19 retaliation and conspiracy. (ECF No. 17 at 2.)
In the opposition, Respondent emphasizes that “[i]nmates are not entitled to the same
21 evidentiary standards in disciplinary hearings that are afforded to defendants in criminal
22 proceedings” and that “[i]n order to satisfy the requirements of due process, the record must only
23 include ‘some evidence’ which supports the prison’s disciplinary decision.” (ECF No. 20 at 3
24 (citing Serrano v. Francis, 345 F.3d 1071, 1077–78 (9th Cir. 2003); and Superintendent v. Hill,
25 472 U.S. 445 (1984)).) Respondent argues that “the video evidence was superfluous to the
26 victim-witness and the eye-witness accounts. To the extent it was even relied upon, DHO
The Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases may apply to § 2241 habeas petitions. See Rule 1(b), Rules Governing
28 Section 2254 Cases in the United States District Courts (“Habeas Rules”), 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254.
1 Trimpey — very significantly in his detailed description of the content of the video3 —
2 recounted that the video evidence was consistent with other evidence, specifically crediting the
3 victim-witness (Firanski).” (ECF No. 20 at 5 (footnote added).) Respondent also indicates that
4 “BOP does not possess the video.”4 (Id. at 6.)
The Supreme Court has held that “the requirements of due process are satisfied if some
6 evidence supports the decision by the prison disciplinary board to revoke good time credits.”
7 Hill, 472 U.S. at 455. “Ascertaining whether this standard is satisfied does not require
8 examination of the entire record, independent assessment of the credibility of witnesses, or
9 weighing of the evidence. Instead, the relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the
10 record that could support the conclusion . . . .” Id. at 455–56 (emphasis added). “This test is
11 ‘minimally stringent.’” Castro v. Terhune, 712 F.3d 1304, 1314 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Powell
12 v. Gomez, 33 F.3d 39, 40 (9th Cir. 1994)). Given the description of the video in the existing
13 record, and as the disciplinary hearing officer relied on other evidence in addition to the CCTV
14 video in his decision,5 (ECF No. 11-1 at 36), Petitioner has not established that if the facts are
15 fully developed, he may be able to demonstrate that he is entitled to relief. As good cause has not
16 been shown, Petitioner is not entitled to discovery.
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Petitioner’s motion to compel discovery
18 (ECF No. 15) and motion for deposition (ECF No. 17) are DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
September 16, 2022
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
The DHO report stated in pertinent part that the DHO relied on, inter alia, “the review of CCTV showing
[Petitioner] walking towards the BF Entry Door where [he] turn[s] around towards the escorting officers striking
Sgt. Firanski in the chest.” (ECF No. 11-1 at 36.)
The incident occurred at Great Plains Correctional Facility, “which was then a privately owned and operated BOP
contract facility.” (ECF No. 20 at 1 n.1.) On January 26, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order
eliminating the use of privately operated criminal detention facilities, and Great Plains Correctional Facility was
closed effective May 31, 2021. (Id.).
The DHO also relied on “the nine still photographs of the inmate and staff involved,” the incident report written by
Firanski, and Petitioner’s statement that he did not intentionally assault the staff members but it may have been done
accidentally in finding that Petitioner committed the acts as charged. (ECF No. 11-1 at 36.)
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