Williams v. Dir of TDCJ
MEMORANDUM ORDER OVERRULING PETITIONER'S OBJECTIONS AND ADOPTING 4 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS. Signed by Judge Robert W. Schroeder, III on 4/12/2017. (sm, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:16-CV-95
MEMORANDUM ORDER OVERRULING PETITIONER’S OBJECTIONS AND ADOPTING
THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Petitioner Brian Williams, a prisoner confined at the Telford Unit of the Texas Department
of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, brought this petition for writ of habeas corpus
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
The Court ordered that this matter be referred to the Honorable Caroline Craven, United
States Magistrate Judge, for consideration pursuant to applicable laws and orders of this Court. The
Magistrate Judge has submitted a Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge
recommending the petition be denied.
The Court has received and considered the Report and Recommendation of United States
Magistrate Judge, along with the record, pleadings, and all available evidence. The petitioner filed
objections to the Report and Recommendation.
The Court has conducted a de novo review of the objections in relation to the pleadings and
the applicable law. See FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b). After careful consideration, the Court concludes the
objections are without merit.
The petitioner alleges he was denied due process because: (1) prison officials did not follow
the special disciplinary procedures established for offenders with psychiatric issues, and (2) the
disciplinary hearing officer failed to consider allegedly exculpatory medical records. The petitioner
contends his counsel substitute provided ineffective assistance by failing to ensure applicable
regulations and policies were followed during the disciplinary proceedings. The petitioner also
contends prison officials violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) during the disciplinary
Prisoners charged with rule violations are entitled to certain due process rights when the
disciplinary action results in a sanction that will impose upon a liberty interest. Sandin v. Conner,
515 U.S. 472, 483-84 (1995); Thompson v. Cockrell, 263 F.3d 423, 425 (5th Cir. 2001). Generally,
the only sanction that imposes upon a liberty interest is the loss of good time credits for an inmate
whose release on mandatory supervision will be delayed by the loss of the credits. Malchi v. Thaler,
211 F.3d 953, 958 (5th Cir. 2000); see also Teague v. Quarterman, 482 F.3d 769, 774 (5th Cir.
2007). In this case, the Magistrate Judge correctly concluded that the petitioner was not entitled to
due process before the imposition of sanctions because he is ineligible for release on mandatory
supervision. Further, the failure of prison officials to follow prison policies does not rise to the level
of a constitutional violation. McFaul v. Valenzuela, 684 F.3d 564, 579 (5th Cir. 2012). As a result,
the petitioner’s due process claims lack merit.
The petitioner’s claim that his counsel substitute provided ineffective assistance lacks merit.
A prisoner does not have a constitutional right to counsel in a disciplinary hearing. Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570 (1974). Because the petitioner does not have the right to be
appointed counsel or counsel substitute, he may not complain about the adequacy of his counsel
The petitioner’s ADA claims are not cognizable in a habeas proceeding because they do not
impact the fact or duration of the petitioner’s confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500
(1973) (petition for writ of habeas corpus is the appropriate means for a prisoner to challenge the fact
or duration of his confinement); Richardson v. Fleming, 651 F.2d 366, 372 (5th Cir. 1981) (a civil
rights action is an appropriate means for recovering damages resulting from illegal administrative
procedures or the conditions of confinement). If the petitioner wishes to pursue the ADA claims,
he may do so by filing a civil action.
Additionally, in this case, the petitioner is not entitled to the issuance of a certificate of
appealability. An appeal from a judgment denying federal habeas corpus relief may not proceed
unless a judge issues a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253; FED. R. APP. P. 22(b). The
standard for granting a certificate of appealability, like that for granting a certificate of probable
cause to appeal under prior law, requires the petitioner to make a substantial showing of the denial
of a federal constitutional right. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 483-84 (2000); Elizalde v.
Dretke, 362 F.3d 323, 328 (5th Cir. 2004); see also Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880, 893 (1982).
In making that substantial showing, the petitioner need not establish that he should prevail on the
merits. Rather, he must demonstrate that the issues are subject to debate among jurists of reason,
that a court could resolve the issues in a different manner, or that the questions presented are worthy
of encouragement to proceed further. See Slack, 529 U.S. at 483-84; Avila v. Quarterman, 560 F.3d
299, 304 (5th Cir. 2009). If the petition was denied on procedural grounds, the petitioner must show
that jurists of reason would find it debatable: (1) whether the petition raises a valid claim of the
denial of a constitutional right, and (2) whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling.
Slack, 529 U.S. at 484; Elizalde, 362 F.3d at 328. Any doubt regarding whether to grant a certificate
of appealability is resolved in favor of the petitioner, and the severity of the penalty may be
considered in making this determination. See Miller v. Johnson, 200 F.3d 274, 280-81 (5th Cir.
The petitioner has not shown that any of the issues raised by his claims are subject to debate
among jurists of reason. The factual and legal questions advanced by the petitioner are not novel and
have been consistently resolved adversely to his position. In addition, the questions presented are
not worthy of encouragement to proceed further. Petitioner has failed to make a sufficient showing
to merit the issuance of a certificate of appealability.
Accordingly, petitioner’s objections are OVERRULED.
The findings of fact and
conclusions of law of the magistrate judge are correct, and the report of the Magistrate Judge is
ADOPTED. A final judgment will be entered in this case in accordance with the Magistrate Judge’s
recommendation. A certificate of appealability will not be issued.
SIGNED this 12th day of April, 2017.
ROBERT W. SCHROEDER III
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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