Stallworth v. Smith
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER; 1) Stallworth's petition for writ of habeas corpus 1 is DENIED 2) action is DISMISSED AND STRICKEN from Court's docket 3) a corresponding judgment will be entered this date. Signed by Judge Henry R. Wilhoit, Jr on 9/26/17.(SMT)cc: COR, Stallworth via USMail
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
NORTHERN DIVISION at ASHLAND
Civil No. 0: 17-049-HRW
THOMAS SMITH, Warden,
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Archie 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.
In May 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
A 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 boxers." [Id.].
The 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.].
Stallworth 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].
The 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
In this 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 I]. 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 -1 0].
Stallworth, 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.].
It is certainly true that Stallworth is entitled to present evidence in his defense.
See Woljf 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-cv109-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. 18 at 9-10].
In 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.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
1. Stallworth's petition for a writ of habeas corpus [D. E. No. l] is DENIED.
2. This action is DISMISSED and STRICKEN from the Court's docket.
3. A corresponding judgment will be entered this date.
f~ Signed By:
ffeary R. Wilhoit Jr.
This 26th day of September, 2017.
United States Ol1rr1ct Judge
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