Ramirez v. Livingston et al
ORDER on 13 MOTION for Extension of Time to File a Motion for Reconsideration, Case reopened on 9/16/16(Signed by Judge George C Hanks, Jr) Parties notified.(dperez, 3)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
BRAD LIVINGSTON, et al,
September 16, 2016
David J. Bradley, Clerk
§ CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:15-CV-321
The plaintiff, Manuel Ramirez (TDCJ #01294326), is an inmate in the custody of
the Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Correctional Institutions Division (“TDCJ”).
Ramirez, a devout Muslim, has filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the
Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”) alleging that various
TDCJ and prison officials forced him to trim his beard in violation of the United States
Supreme Court’s opinion in Holt v. Hobbs, 135 S.Ct. 853 (2015) (Dkt. 1). Ramirez
sought a declaration that the defendants’ actions violated his Constitutional rights, as well
as injunctive relief expunging disciplinary cases related to his beard length (Dkt. 1 at p.
The Court dismissed Ramirez’s claims without prejudice (Dkt. 12). All of his
claims but one were mooted by either interunit transfers or the reversals of disciplinary
cases in response to grievances. The remaining claim was perched squarely on the oftenblurry line between habeas and civil rights lawsuits in the context of prison disciplinary
proceedings, and the Court concluded that it was barred by the United States Supreme
Court’s opinion in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Ramirez has filed a motion
for an extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration (Dkt. 13). Even though the
motion made no substantive arguments and only asked for an extension, the Court sua
sponte reexamined its application of Heck.
The Court will reinstate the claim that it previously concluded was Heck-barred.
That claim seeks the expunction of disciplinary convictions stemming from Ramirez’s
incarceration at the Ramsey Unit in Brazoria County. Ramirez claims (and the documents
attached to his complaint seem to bear out) that he was punished for violating the TDCJ
grooming policy related to beard length, even though an identical policy instituted in the
Arkansas prison system had already been struck down in Hobbs. The Court concluded
that the Heck bar applied because Ramirez sought expunction of the disciplinary
convictions and did not challenge any procedural defects in those disciplinary
proceedings. Cf. White v. Fox, 294 Fed. App’x 955, 960–61 (5th Cir. 2008).
However, the Court has learned from the TDCJ website that Ramirez has been
convicted of aggravated robbery, which renders him ineligible for release to mandatory
supervision in Texas. TEX. GOV’T CODE § 508.149(a)(12). For eligible inmates, release to
mandatory supervision is generally required “when the actual calendar time the inmate
has served plus any accrued good conduct time equals the term to which the inmate was
sentenced.” TEX. GOV’T CODE § 508.147(a); Jackson v. Johnson, 475 F.3d 261, 263 n.1
(5th Cir. 2007). But Texas inmates who are not eligible for early release to mandatory
supervision—meaning inmates who are only eligible for early release on parole—have no
right to or Constitutional expectancy of early release because release on parole is entirely
discretionary. See Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 957–58 (5th Cir. 2000); Teague v.
Quarterman, 482 F.3d 769, 774–76 (5th Cir. 2007). As a result, Texas state inmates who
are not eligible for release to mandatory supervision may not challenge the results of
prison disciplinary proceedings by way of federal habeas, even if the disciplinary
proceedings resulted in the loss of good-time credits. See id.
In other words, Ramirez’s claim for expunction of the Ramsey disciplinary
convictions “raised no claim on which habeas relief could have been granted on any
recognized theory[.]” Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 754–55 (2004). “There is no
need to preserve the habeas exhaustion rule and no impediment under Heck in such a
case[.]” Id. at 751–52. Based on the foregoing, Ramirez’s claim requesting expunction of
the disciplinary cases from the Ramsey Unit that have not been overturned and expunged
is REOPENED under this docket number. All of Ramirez’s other claims, which were
dismissed without prejudice, will remain closed. The Court will GRANT Ramirez’s
application to proceed in forma pauperis (Dkt. 2) by separate order. All other motions are
The Clerk of this Court shall send a copy of this Order to the parties.
SIGNED at Galveston, Texas, this 16th day of September, 2016.
George C. Hanks Jr.
United States District Judge
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