MAFFUCCI v. WARDEN ORTIZ
OPINION. Signed by Judge Noel L. Hillman on 5/5/2017. (tf, n.m.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
MATTHEW S. MAFFUCCI,
Civ. Action No. 16-4983 (NLH)
Matthew S. Maffucci
136 Collins Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Petitioner Pro se
Jessica Rose O'Neill
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District Of New Jersey
401 Market Street
P.O. Box 2098
Camden, NJ 08101
Counsel for Respondent
HILLMAN, District Judge
On or about August 6, 2016, Petitioner Matthew S. Maffucci
(“Petitioner”), a prisoner then confined at the Federal
Correctional Institution (“FCI”) in Fort Dix, New Jersey, filed
this Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241,
challenging an institutional disciplinary decision. (ECF No. 1.)
After the Court administratively terminated this matter for
failure to submit the required $5 filing fee or a complete in
forma pauperis application, Petitioner submitted the filing fee,
as well as an Amended Petition.
(ECF No. 5.)
Warden Ortiz (“Respondent”) submitted an Answer on February 21,
2017 (ECF No. 7), and Petitioner submitted his Reply thereafter
(ECF No. 9).
The matter is now fully briefed and the Court has
considered all submissions by the parties.
For the reasons that
follow, the Petition will be denied.
On February 7, 2015, while he was a prisoner at FCI Fort
Dix, Petitioner was selected for a random urinalysis test.
(Answer, Declaration of Tara Moran (“Moran Decl.”), Ex. 4,
Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) Incident Report.)
notified Petitioner at 7:15 PM that he had two hours to provide
a urine sample for a drug test.
After several attempts,
Petitioner ultimately did not provide a sample.
The officer issued an Incident Report, charging Petitioner
with Refusing to Provide a Urine Sample in violation of Code
The next day, the incident report was provided to
Petitioner and he stated that the incident report was accurate
He further stated that he could not urinate
while being observed and that he was not taking any medication,
nor did he have any medical condition, which would make it
difficult to urinate. (Id.)
FCI Fort Dix staff investigated the incident report, and a
hearing was held before a Unit Discipline Committee (“UDC”) on
February 11, 2015.
At the hearing, Petitioner stated
again that he could not provide a urine sample.
conclusion of the hearing, the UDC referred the incident report
to the Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”) for disposition, and
it recommended “sanction that is deemed appropriate by the DHO
in order to deter future infraction.” (Id.)
On February 19, 2015, the DHO conducted a hearing.
Decl., Ex. 7, DHO Report.)
At the hearing, Petitioner again
stated that he “could not go” during the urinalysis test.
The DHO also considered a memorandum submitted by Senior Officer
M. Martinez and the Incident Report. (Id.)
At the conclusion of
the hearing, the DHO determined Petitioner committed the
prohibited act of Refusing to take a Drug/Breathalyzer test.
As a result of the DHO’s findings, Petitioner was
sanctioned with a loss of 40 days of good conduct time, 15 days
of disciplinary segregation (suspended 90 days), and 30 days of
Petitioner appealed the decision of the DHO to the
Northeast Regional Office of the Bureau of Prisons on March 5,
(Moran Decl., Ex. 2, Regional Appeal.)
that he did not refuse to provide a urine sample; rather, he was
unable to provide one.
He also argued that he had
recently started a medication which lists “trouble urinating” as
a possible side effect.
On April 7, 2015, the Regional
Director denied the appeal, noting the Petitioner did not notify
staff at the time of the urinalysis test that he was taking
medication or that he had medical conditions affecting his
On May 4, 2015, Petitioner appealed to the
(Moran Decl., Ex. 3, Central Office Appeal.)
In this appeal, Petitioner again claimed he did not refuse, but
instead suffers from medical and psychological conditions which
caused his inability to urinate.
Additionally, he again
argued that medication may have caused the inability to urinate.
On May 24, 2015, the Central Office denied the appeal,
noting Petitioner did not raise these issues during the
investigative phase of the incident report or at the
On November 5, 2016, Petitioner filed the instant Amended
(ECF No. 5.)
He raises three grounds for relief:
(1) Warden Ortiz violated Petitioner’s Eighth
Amendment rights when he punished him for
being disabled by causing him to physical pain
as a result of drinking excessive amounts of
(2) Warden Ortiz violated the Americans with
Disabilities Act when he denied Petitioner a
reasonable accommodation for his disability;
(3) Warden Ortiz violated Petitioner’s rights
when he revoked 40 days of Petitioner’s Good
Time Credit for refusing to provide a urine
A. Legal Standard
A habeas corpus petition is the proper mechanism for a
federal prisoner to challenge the “fact or duration” of his
confinement, including challenges to prison disciplinary
proceedings, that affect the length of confinement, such as
deprivation of good time credits.
See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411
U.S. 475, 498–99 (1973); Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749 (2004);
Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641 (1997); Wilkinson v. Dotson,
544 U.S. 74 (2005).
A challenge to a disciplinary action
resulting in the loss of good conduct time is properly brought
pursuant to § 2241, “as the action could affect the duration of
It appears that Petitioner’s first two grounds are raising
conditions of confinement claims, which are not cognizable in this
habeas action. See Leamer v. Fauver, 288 F.3d 532 (3d Cir. 2002)
(“when the challenge is to a condition of confinement such that a
finding in plaintiff's favor would not alter his sentence or undo
his conviction, [a civil rights action] is appropriate”); Castillo
v. FBOP FCI Fort Dix, 221 F. App’x 172 (3d Cir. 2007) (habeas is
proper vehicle to challenge disciplinary proceeding resulting in
loss of good-time credits, but claims regarding sanctioned loss of
phone and visitation privileges not cognizable in habeas). To the
extent he raises such arguments to challenge his disciplinary
proceedings, as discussed below, there was nothing in the record
at the time of the testing to suggest any medical issues affecting
urination which the Prison did not “accommodate.”
the petitioner's sentence.” Queen v. Miner, 530 F.3d 253, 254 n.
2 (3d Cir. 2008).
This Court has subject matter jurisdiction under § 2241 to
consider the instant Petition because Petitioner was
incarcerated in New Jersey when he filed the Petition, and he
challenges the loss of good time credits. See Woodall v. Fed.
Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235, 241–44 (3d Cir. 2005); Barden
v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 478–79 (3d Cir. 1990).
Petitioner is challenging the results of a prison
disciplinary hearing where he was found guilty of refusing to
provide a urine sample and sanctioned with the loss of 40 days
Prisoners are guaranteed certain due process protections
when a prison disciplinary proceeding may result in the loss of
good time credits.
See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-65
The due process protections afforded an inmate must
(1) a written notice of the charges at least twenty-
four hours prior to a hearing; (2) an opportunity to call
witnesses and present evidence in his defense; (3) an
opportunity to receive assistance from an inmate representative;
(4) a written statement of the evidence relied on and the
reasons for the disciplinary action; and (5) appearing before an
impartial decision making body.
See Crosby v. Piazza, 465 F.
App’x 168, 171-72 (3d Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (citing Wolff, 418
U.S. at 563-71). Additionally:
[R]evocation of good time does not comport
with the minimum requirements of procedural
due process unless the findings of the prison
disciplinary board are supported by some
evidence in the record.” Superintendent v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). This
standard is minimal and does not require
independent assessment of the credibility of
witnesses, or a weighing of the evidence. See
Thompson v. Owens, 889 F.2d 500, 502 (3d Cir.
1989). Rather, the relevant inquiry asks
whether “there is any evidence in the record
that could support the conclusion reached by
the disciplinary board.” Hill, 472 U.S. at
Lang v. Sauers, 529 F. App’x 121, 123 (3d Cir. 2013) (per
It appears, and he does not allege to the contrary, that
Petitioner was provided with all the due process safeguards
identified in Wolff.
However, Petitioner is arguing that the
decision of the DHO to revoke 40 days of his GTC was not
supported by the record.
When making his decision, the DHO relied on Petitioner’s
hearing testimony; the Incident Report; the investigation; and
the memorandum dated February 7, 2015 from Officer Martinez.
(DHO Report ¶¶ III(B), (D).)
During the investigation,
Petitioner stated that he could not urinate while being observed
and that he was not taking any medication, nor did he have any
medical condition, which would make it difficult to urinate.
(Incident Report ¶ 24.)
During the hearing, Petitioner
testified that he went to take the “UA” but he “could not go.”
(DHO Hearing Officer Report ¶ III(B).)
In light of the fact
that Petitioner had admitted that he did not provide the sample,
the DHO found that he had violated Code 110 – Refusing to Take a
Certainly, there was ample
evidence in the record to support the DHO’s conclusion that
Petitioner had failed to submit to a drug test.
In fact, there
was no dispute that Petitioner had failed to do so since, by his
own admission, he was unable to provide a sample.
Petitioner raised the medical issues for the first time on
appeal to the Regional and Central Offices of the BOP.
Regional and Central Offices properly found that Petitioner had
not alerted the investigator or the DHO that he was unable to
provide a urine sample due to a medical issue.
Exs. 2, 3.)
In fact, he had affirmatively told the investigator
that he did not have any medical issues, nor was he on any
medication, that could affect his ability to provide a sample.
(Incident Report ¶ 24.)
Though Petitioner thereafter identified
several medications and medical issues which could have affected
his ability to provide a sample, the BOP nevertheless found that
because Petitioner had not raised these issues with the
investigator and DHO, there was sufficient evidence in the
record to support the DHO’s decision to impose sanctions. (Moran
Decl., Exs. 2, 3.)
The Court agrees.
Petitioner did not inform the
investigator or the DHO about any issues or medications that
could have impacted his ability to comply with the request.
Moreover, while Petitioner thereafter sought medical attention
for his difficulty urinating in front of others, there was
nothing in his medical records at the time of the failed test to
suggest a problem.
(Am. Pet., Exs. D, E.)
In sum, there was
more than sufficient evidence in the record to support the DHO’s
conclusion that Petitioner had violated Code 110 – Refusing to
Take a Drug/Breathalyzer Test.
See Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56;
Void v. Warden Fort Dix FCI, 345 F. App'x 818, 820–21 (3d Cir.
2009) (affirming denial of habeas relief when there was no
documentation of prisoner’s medical condition in his prison
record at the time he was asked to give a urine sample or at the
time of his disciplinary hearing).
Petitioner’s due process
rights were not violated and he is not entitled to habeas
To the extent Petitioner also argues that the loss of 40
days good time credit violates the Eighth Amendment because it
is “grossly disproportionate” to the severity of the offense,
see Rummel v. Estelle, 445 U.S. 263, 271-74 (1980), the Court
notes that it is within the range of available sanctions for a
violation of Code 110.
See 28 C.F.R. § 541.3; see also Shelton
v. Jordan, 613 F. App'x 134, 135 (3d Cir. 2015) (“[g]iven the
severity of [petitioner’s] offenses, and because the sanctions
fall within the applicable range permitted by the regulation, we
conclude that the punishment here did not violate the Eighth
Additionally, courts have affirmed the imposition
of the loss of 40 days good time credit, or more, for
failing/refusing to provide a urine sample in situations similar
See, e.g., Void, 345 F. App'x at 820; Lang v.
Sauers, 529 F. App'x 121, 122 (3d Cir. 2013); Jackson v.
Sneizek, 342 F. App'x 833, 836 (3d Cir. 2009); Noreiga v.
Schultz, No. 10-4805, 2011 WL 1870374, at *1 (D.N.J. May 12,
As such, the Court finds that the sanction imposed on
Petitioner did not violate the Eighth Amendment.
For the reasons set forth above, the Petition will be
An appropriate Order follows.
Dated: May 5, 2017
At Camden, New Jersey
s/ Noel L. Hillman
NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
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