Larios v. Smith
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: 1. The Clerk of the Court shall modify the docket to identify the petitioner as "Ricardo Larios a/k/a Richard Larios-Trujillo." 2. Larios's petition 9 is DENIED. 3. The Court will enter a judgment contemporaneously with this order. 4. This matter is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the docket. Signed by Judge Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr on 10/16/17.(KSS)cc: COR, Larios (via US Mail)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
NORTHERN DIVISION at ASHLAND
Civil No. 17-32-HRW
THOMAS SMITH, Warden,
*** *** *** ***
Federal inmate Ricardo Larios 1 has filed an amended prose petition for a writ
of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging the imposition of prison
disciplinary sanctions. [D. E. No. 9] This matter is before the Court to conduct an
initial screening of Harris's petition. 28 U.S.C. § 2243; Alexander v. Northern
Bureau of Prisons, 419 F. App'x 544, 545 (6th Cir. 2011).
On April 2, 2014, Larios provided a urine sample to prison officials. An
outside laboratory tested the sample, which came back positive for the presence of
barbiturates. Prison medical staff reviewed Larios' s medical records and determined
Larios was prosecuted under the name Richard Larios-Trujillo. United States v.
Larios-Trujillo, No. 1:08-CR-446-TCB-LTW-l (N.D. Ga. 2008). In order to ensure
consistency across court records, the Clerk of the Court shall modify the docket to
identify the petitioner as "Ricardo Larios a/k/a Richard Larios-Trujillo."
that he was not prescribed any medication that would cause a positive test.
Therefore, on April 25, 2014, an Incident Report was issued charging Larios with
Using Narcotics Not Prescribed by Medical Staff, a Code 112 offense.
Larios was provided with advanced notice of the charges, but chose not to
request staff representation or the presentation of witness testimony at the upcoming
hearing. A Disciplinary Hearing Officer ("DHO") conducted a hearing on May 5,
2014. At the hearing, Larios denied the charges and stated that he takes Phenytoin,
an anti-seizure medication sold under the trade name Dilantin, which can cause a
false positive test for barbiturates. However, Larios provided neither testimony nor
documentation in support of this claim at the hearing. Based upon the report from
the prison's medical department that Larios was not prescribed any medication that
would have caused any false positive, the DHO found Larios guilty of the
disciplinary offense in a report dated May 12, 2014. The DHO imposed various
sanctions, including the forfeiture or disallowance of23 l days of good conduct time.
[D. E. No. 9-2 at 11-13]
In his petition, Larios characterizes the DHO's decision as an abuse of process
because, he believes, the BOP gains financially by incarcerating inmates longer. He
also claims that the sanctions violate his criminal judgment, which he characterizes
as a contract between the federal court that imposed it and the BOP. Finally, Larios
suggests that the DHO lacked sufficient evidence to find him guilty of the offense in
light of his assertion that Phenytoin is known to cause false positives for barbiturates
in lab tests. [D. E. No. 9 at 5-6]
When a prison disciplinary board takes action that results in the loss of good
time credits in which the prisoner has a vested liberty interest, the Due Process
Clause requires prison officials to observe certain protections for the prisoner.
Specifically, the prisoner is entitled to advanced notice of the charges, the
opportunity to present evidence in his or her defense, whether through live testimony
or documents, and a written decision explaining the grounds used to determine guilt
or innocence of the offense. Woljf v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-66 (1974).
Further, the findings used as a basis to revoke good time credits must be suppmied
by some evidence in the record. Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985);
Selby v. Caruso, 734 F. 3d 554, 559 (6th Cir. 2013).
Larios's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence is without merit. This
Court's review of whether there was "some evidence" to support the DHO's factual
determinations is extraordinarily deferential: "[a]scertaining whether this standard
is satisfied does not require examination of the entire record, independent assessment
of the credibility of witnesses, or weighing of the evidence. Instead, the relevant
question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the
conclusion reached by the disciplinary board." Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56 (emphasis
added). Here, the prison medical department provided the DHO with an unequivocal
statement that Larios was not prescribed any medication that would cause a false
positive test for barbiturates, and he did not provide any evidence to the contrary at
the hearing. Larios has submitted documents in this case that appear to show that he
was prescribed Phenytoin in 2012 and 201 7, but those documents do not show that
he was prescribed the drug in 2014 when it was detected in his urine and the charges
were filed. [D. E. No. 4-2 at 3, 5] Based upon the evidence before the DHO at the
time his report was issued, the DHO's conclusion was amply supported by "some
evidence" and his decision comports with the requirements of due process.
Larios's "abuse of process" claim does not warrant discussion save to note
that there is no evidence whatsoever in the record to suggest that the DHO was biased
in his decisionmaking. And Larios's assertion that the criminal judgment against
him precluded the BOP from disallowing good time credits is both factually and
legally baseless. The judgment itself contains no provision at all for good time
credits; those are provided for by a federal statute that by its terms states that such
credits are conditioned upon compliance with prison rules and are subject to
forfeiture. 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(l); 28 C.F.R. § 523.20(e) ("The amount of good
conduct time awarded for the year is also subject to disciplinary disallowance (see
tables 3 through 6 in§ 541.13 of this chapter)."). For each of these reasons, Larios's
petition must be denied.
Accordingly, it is ORDERED as follows:
The Clerk of the Court shall modify the docket to identify the petitioner
as "Ricardo Larios a/k/a Richard Larios-Trujillo."
Larios's petition for a writ of habeas corpus [D. E. No. 9] is DENIED.
The Court will enter a judgment contemporaneously with this order.
This matter is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the docket.
This 16th day of October, 2017.
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