Meador v. Director TDCJ
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS, Petitioner's objections are overruled and the Report of the Magistrate Judge 39 Report and Recommendations is ADOPTED. IT is ORDERED that 38 Motion for Relief filed by John Paul Meador, and 36 Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment filed by John Paul Meador are DENIED. Signed by Judge Ron Clark on 1/20/17. (dlc, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
JOHN PAUL MEADOR
CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:15cv204
MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
AND DENYING MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND THE JUDGMENT
The Petitioner John Paul Meador, proceeding pro se, filed this application for the writ of
habeas corpus under 42 U.S.C. §2254 complaining of the calculation of his time credits. This Court
ordered that the case be referred to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§636(b)(1) and (3) and the Amended Order for the Adoption of Local Rules for the Assignment of
Duties to United States Magistrate Judges.
Meador’s habeas corpus petition was dismissed on September 15, 2016, and Meador filed
a motion for relief from judgment on October 11, 2016. Because this was within 28 days of the
entry of judgment, the motion is properly construed as a motion to alter or amend the judgment
under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e).
Meador was convicted prior to September 1, 1987, and thus is known as a “pre-70th
Legislature Offender.” Such prisoners receive good time based on their classification status and can
also get credits known as Sub-class A, B, or C good time credits for completion of certain specified
courses or programs. Sub-class A credits are five extra days of good time per month for completing
an on-the-job training certification or a vocational training program. Sub-class B credits are 10 extra
days of good time per month for completion of an educational program or an on-the-job training
certification and a vocational training program. Sub-class C credits are 15 extra days of good time
per month for completion of an on-the-job training certification and an educational program. See
TDCJ Administrative Directive 04.80 (docket no. 12-4, p. 4).
Meador asserted that he earned the sub-class C time credits between 1986 and 1989 for
completion of his GED test as well as completion of a vocational training course at the Ellis Unit
bus barn. He also completed on-the-job training in records conversion and a course in the operation
of heavy equipment. He was released from prison in 1989 but returned in 2005 with a new
concurrent five-year sentence. Since that time, however, he complains that he has been denied subclass C credits.
After the Magistrate Judge ordered an answer, the Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the
petition as moot. The Respondent contended that Meador is only eligible for sub-class A time
credits and is now receiving them. Meador filed a response contending that while he was receiving
sub-class A credits, he was not receiving sub-class B or C credits.
The Respondent then filed a supplemental answer stating that prisoners can only be eligible
for one sub-class of credits at a time. Meador completed his GED in 1981, before his current
convictions, so this course does not affect his time-earning classification. There was no record of
Meador completing a vocational training program at the Ellis Unit bus barn. Because Meador has
completed two on-the-job training courses but no qualifying educational or vocational programs,
he is only eligible for sub-class A time credits, which he is receiving. The Respondent attached an
affidavit from Charley Valdez, Program Supervisor III for the Classification and Records
Department of TDCJ-CID, substantiating these claims. In response to the supplemental answer,
Meador claimed that the sub-class A credit plus the sub-class B credit equaled the sub-class C credit,
which he terms “a statutory part of his sentence.” He denied the Respondent’s assertion that
prisoners can only be eligible for one class of sub-credits at a time, but did not substantiate his
II. Prior Proceedings
The Magistrate Judge determined that Meador completed his GED in 1981, prior to any of
the convictions which he is now serving, meaning the GED cannot be counted for purposes of
determining his time earning status. Meador’s claim that he competed a vocational training program
at the Ellis Unit bus barn was simply a bald assertion, lacking support in the record, and thus lacked
probative evidentiary value. Thus, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Meador was entitled only
to sub-class A credits, which he was now receiving, rendering the petition moot. Meador argued
in response that he passed the GED test in 1981, while serving the 1979 conviction, and this
achievement should migrate to his current sentence.
This Court reviewed the pleadings, the Report, and the objections and determined that
Meador had been convicted of burglary on September 26, 1978, and then of two counts of burglary
of a building and theft on August 10, 1979. He was released on parole in 1982, 1985, and 1989, but
returned to prison each time. All of these sentences were discharged in 1994, but Meador had been
convicted of burglary of a habitation in 1986 and continued serving that sentence, which he is still
serving, after the discharge of his earlier ones.
Meador’s GED, which he earned in 1981, did not affect his time-earning status because an
educational or vocational achievement earned during the term of one sentence did not carry over into
completely unrelated sentences after the earlier sentence was fully discharged. Meador completed
two on-the-job training courses during his present sentence, which entitled him to sub-class A time
credits. Because he is receiving such credits, this Court concluded that his petition for habeas corpus
relief was moot.
III. Meador’s Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment
In his motion to alter or amend the judgment, Meador argued that he is no longer serving the
conviction he received in 2011 because this conviction discharged on August 7, 2016. He
acknowledged that the sentence he was serving when he earned his GED discharged in 1994, some
eight years after he received his current sentence. From 1986 to 1989 he received credit for the
achievements earned on the 1979 and 1983 sentences, which ran concurrently with his 1986
conviction until the earlier convictions discharged. He states that “since the Respondent asserts that
Meador is eligible for the sub-class A time credits, the Respondent had to be aware of what they
credited me with in June 10, 2015, was not something that just came about then, but was there in
1986 to 1989.”
Meador further claimed that the A credit combined with the B credit makes up the C credit
and that his 1979 and 1983 sentences ran concurrently with his 1986 sentence until these sentences
discharged and contended that because he received C time credits on the earlier sentences, he should
continue to do so.
Meador submitted documents showing that he completed a course called “Cognitive
Intervention” in April of 2009 and a course called “Perspectives and Solutions” in March of 2012.
Thus, he asserts that the Respondent is incorrect in stating that he is not eligible for the educational
time award. Meador further pointed to a time sheet dated January 21, 2009, attached to his original
petition at Exhibit 5, which states “Educational Credits effective from 01-01-00.” The Magistrate
Judge stated that the sub-class A, B, and C credits are referred to in TDCJ Administrative Directive
04.80 as “educational credits” and the notation on Meador’s time sheet shows that he is eligible for
Meador requested that the Court examine his exhibits and take into consideration his other
educational accomplishments and asks that “this Court only apply those things that have been
presented in this motion to that supports the fact that Meador has been and still is eligible for the C
credit, or 15 extra days a month. This is the relief asked for, and it continues to be the relief
earned.” In a separate motion for relief (docket no. 38), Meador asks that the Court grant him B
credits to go along with the A credits he is now receiving, giving him a total of 15 extra days a
month, and that these B credits, like his A credits, be backdated to August 10, 2011.
IV. The Magistrate Judge’s Report on the Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment
The Magistrate Judge first stated that relief under Rule 59(e) is appropriate where there has
been an intervening change in controlling law, the movant presents newly discovered evidence
which was previously unavailable, or to correct a manifest error of law or fact. Schiller v.
Physicians Res. Grp. Inc., 342 F.3d 563, 567 (5th Cir. 2003). Such a motion cannot be used to raise
arguments which could and should have been made before the judgment issued. Rosenzweig v.
Azurix Corp., 332 F.3d 854, 864 (5th Cir. 2013).
The Magistrate Judge determined that Meador failed to show an intervening change in
controlling law and did not present newly discovered evidence. His documents showing that he took
classes in 2009 and 2012, in cognitive intervention and perspective, were attached to but not
discussed in his objections, meaning they are not newly discovered evidence.
Nor has Meador shown a manifest error of law or fact. The time line shows that when
Meador earned his GED in 1981, he was serving sentences which had been imposed on September
26, 1978, and August 10, 1979. When he received additional sentences in 1983 and 1986, all of the
sentences were concurrent, so the educational credits were applied to all of them. However, when
the convictions in place at the time Meador earned his GED expired, the sub-class credits he
obtained for this GED expired with them. The Magistrate Judge determined that neither the statute
nor the administrative directive provide that the sub-class credits should apply on sentences handed
down long after the achievement was earned.
The Magistrate Judge also rejected Meador’s contention that he is entitled to educational
credits because of his 2009 and 2012 courses. First, the Magistrate Judge observed that Meador did
not demonstrate that he exhausted his state remedies on this claim and a review of the state court
records furnished by the Respondent shows that he has not done so. Furthermore, the Magistrate
Judge stated that this argument was articulated for the first time in Meador’s motion for
reconsideration although it was available at the time he filed his habeas petition, and thus is not
properly before the Court. The Magistrate Judge also concluded that gaining sub-class credits
requires such educational achievements as earning a high school or equivalency diploma, GED
certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree, and Meador has not shown that the two classes
he took amount to the same level of accomplishment.
The Magistrate Judge went on to state that Meador failed to show any other basis to alter or
amend the judgment. TDCJ records show that Meador has completed two on-the-job training
courses but no qualifying educational or vocational programs, thus entitling him to sub-class A
credits, and the discharge of his 2011 sentence did not affect these credits. Because Meador is
receiving the time credits to which he is entitled, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the motion
to alter or amend the judgment be denied.
V. Meador’s Objections
In his objections, Meador first takes issue with the Magistrate Judge’s statement that he had
not exhausted state remedies on his claim involving courses taken in 2009 and 2012. Meador points
out that in the initial motion to dismiss, the Respondent acknowledged that Meador had exhausted
his state remedies. However, the claim for which the Magistrate Judge said that state remedies had
not been exhausted was raised for the first time in Meador’s motion for reconsideration and was not
in his original petition. Thus, the Respondent could not have been aware of such a claim at the time
the original motion to dismiss was filed. This objection is without merit.
Next, Meador states that he worked in the bus barn, which he deems an “industrial program
that has not been refuted by the Respondent.” In fact, the Respondent argued that Meador’s claim
of working in the Ellis Unit’s bus barn was simply a bald assertion without support in the record.
Meador points to nothing in the record to substantiate his claim that he worked in the bus barn, and
the Magistrate Judge determined that bald allegations, lacking support in the record, lacked
probative evidentiary value. Ross v. Estelle, 694 F.2d 1008, 1011-12 (5th Cir. 1983). In addition,
he offers nothing to suggest that his job assignment in the bus barn was “a vocational program”
within the meaning of TDCJ Administrative Directive 04.80,
Meador also argues, for the first time in his objections, that he participated in an agricultural
program while he was an outside trustee because he bladed all agricultural roads and turn rows so
that field tractors could access the fields. He offers nothing beyond his own bare and conclusory
assertion that he participated in such a program, nor that this work assignment amounted to an
“agricultural program” sufficient to give rise to educational or vocational time credits. Furthermore,
claims raised for the first time in objections are not properly before the District Court. Omran v.
Prator, slip op. no. 16-30034, 2016 WL 7496113 (5th Cir., December 30, 2016), citing Finley v.
Johnson, 243 F.3d 215, 219 n.3 (5th Cir. 2001). These objections are without merit.
Meador did not address the Magistrate Judge’s determination that his claims concerning the
educational time credits acquired in 2009 and 2012 were raised for the first time in his motion to
alter or amend the judgment even though they could have been raised in his original petition, and
thus are not properly before the District Court. Rosenzweig, 332 F.3d at 864. Instead, he submits
a page from the TDCJ inmate newspaper, the Echo, showing a photograph of graduates of the
cognitive intervention course holding up documents which Meador argues are diplomas. Even
assuming that graduates of this course receive documents styled as diplomas, Meador has offered
nothing to suggest that either or both of the two courses he took, one in 2009 and one in 2012,
qualify as a “program of academic education” equivalent to a GED, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s
degree, as required by TDCJ Administrative Directive 04.80.
Meador cites Weaver v. Graham, 450 U.S. 24, 28, 101 S.Ct. 960, 67 L.Ed.2d 17 (1981),
which held that retroactively decreasing the amount of gain-time awarded for an inmate’s good
behavior violated the Ex Post Facto Clause. He fails to show that the amount of good time awarded
for completion of the A, B, or C credits has been retroactively decreased; the dispute at issue is not
whether the award of good time has been retroactively decreased but whether Meador has met the
qualifications required to attain such awards. Similarly, while Meador cites Wolff v. McDonnell,
418 U.S. 539, 557, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935 (1974), that case holds that where prisoners must
be afforded due process protections before being deprived through disciplinary action of earned
good time amounting to the deprivation of a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Meador has
not shown that he was deprived of any good time which he had previously earned, through
disciplinary action or by any other means. Neither Weaver nor Wolff are applicable to Meador’s
claims. The Magistrate Judge properly determined that Meador is entitled to sub-class A time
credits and is receiving them, rendering his habeas corpus relief moot. Meador’s objections are
The Court has conducted a careful de novo review of those portions of the Magistrate Judge’s
proposed findings and recommendations to which the Petitioner objected. See 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)
(District Judge shall “make a de novo determination of those portions of the Report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.”) Upon such de novo review,
the Court has determined that the Report of the Magistrate Judge is correct and the Petitioner’s
objections are without merit. It is accordingly
ORDERED that the Petitioner’s objections are overruled and the Report of the Magistrate
Judge (docket no. 39) is ADOPTED as the opinion of the District Court. It is further
ORDERED that the Plaintiff’s motion to alter or amend the judgment (docket no. 36) and
motion for relief (docket no. 38) are DENIED. Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e).
So ORDERED and SIGNED this 20 day of January, 2017.
Ron Clark, United States District Judge
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