Mosley v. Quarterman

Filing 18

MEMORANDUM AND RECOMMENDATIONS re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment With Brief in Support, 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, ORDER dismissing as moot 12 MOTION to Substitute Attorney TOMMY L. SKAGGS in place of JAY CLENDENIN, 3 MOTION for Discovery ; Motion-related deadline set re: 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment With Brief in Support, 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Objections due within 10 days of service of this order. (Signed by Magistrate Judge Stephen Wm Smith) Parties notified. (jmarchand)

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS HOUSTON DIVISION LLO Y D X. MOSLEY, Petitioner, v. NA T H A N IEL QUARTERMAN, DIRECTOR OF THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS DIVISION, Respondent. CIV IL ACTION H-08-1042 M E M O R A N D U M , RECOMMENDATION, AND ORDER T h is habeas case challenges a state prison disciplinary proceeding. Respondent N a th a n ie l Quarterman has filed a motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 13), to which p etitio n er Lloyd Mosley has responded (Dkt. 17). The court recommends that summary ju d g m e n t be granted and Mosley's petition be dismissed with prejudice.1 B a c k gro u n d M o s le y is currently serving a life sentence in Texas state prison for aggravated ro b b e ry. On May 28, 2007, Mosley allegedly disrupted a count of inmates and threatened a corrections officer. Prison officials subsequently charged Mosley with three disciplinary o f f en s e s: (1) threatening to inflict harm on an officer, (2) creating a disturbance, and (3) re f u sin g or failing to obey orders. After a brief disciplinary hearing, a hearing officer found M o s le y guilty of all the charges on June 1, 2007. The officer assessed Mosley's punishment In light of the court's recommendation, all of Mosley's nondispositive motions are dismissed as moot. See Dkts. 3 and 12. 1 a t: (1) fifteen days solitary confinement, (2) forty-five days commissary restriction, (3) fortyf iv e days cell restriction, (4) reduction in time-earning class to Line 2, and (5) loss of thirty d a ys good-time credit. O n June 4, 2007, Mosley submitted a step one grievance. His step one grievance was d e n ie d on June 19, 2007. On June 27, 2007, Mosley appealed the denial of his step one g rie v a n ce by filing a step two grievance. His step two grievance was denied on September 4 , 2007. Mosley then filed this federal habeas petition on April 2, 2008. A n a ly sis M o s le y claims 2 his right to due process was violated by (1) the hearing officer's bias, (2 ) the hearing officer's refusal to let him present witnesses in his defense, (3) the hearing o f f ic e r's failure to state the reasons for the particular punishment imposed, (4) his counsel su b stitu te' s failure to adequately represent him at the disciplinary hearing, (5) his failure to re c eiv e an impartial grievance review, and (6) the lack of sufficient evidence to support the f in d in g of guilt.3 Mosley also asserts that the disciplinary hearing somehow violated his right to equal protection of the laws. This allegation is entirely conclusory and, accordingly, the court denies it. See, e.g., Ross v. Estelle, 694 F.2d 1008, 1012 (5th Cir. 1983) ("[M]ere conclusory allegations do not raise a constitutional issue in a habeas proceeding."). Quarterman argues that the court cannot reach the merits of parts of Mosley's claims because they are procedurally defaulted. The court declines to rule on the issue of procedural default and instead chooses to deny Mosley's claims on the merits. See Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 525 (1997) (courts can deny a habeas claim on the merits despite the existence of a procedural default). 2 3 2 P u n is h m e n ts of Solitary Confinement, Commissary Restriction, Cell Restriction, and R e d u c t io n in Time-Earning Class In c a rc e r a t io n is meant to punish offenders not only by taking away their liberty but a ls o by taking away other procedural and substantive rights that free persons enjoy. See S a n d in v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 485 (1995). The Supreme Court, sensitive to both the p u n itiv e purpose of incarceration and the need for states to manage their prisons with m in im a l court interference, has held that only certain forms of punishment--regardless of th e procedures by which they are imposed--implicate the protections of the Due Process C la u s e . See id. at 483-85. Specifically, only punishments that impose "atypical and s ig n if ic a n t hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life" receive D u e Process Clause scrutiny. Id. at 484. T h e fifteen days of solitary confinement that Mosley suffered is not such an atypical a n d harsh punishment. See id. at 486 (thirty days of solitary confinement does not implicate th e Due Process Clause). Neither are the forty-five days of commissary restriction, the fortyf iv e days of cell restriction, or the change in time-earning class. See Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F .3 d 953, 959 (5th Cir. 2000) (change in time-earning class is not a punishment that im p lica tes the Due Process Clause); Madison v. Parker, 104 F.3d 765, 768 (5th Cir. 1997) (co m m issar y and cell restrictions are not punishments that implicate the Due Process Clause). T h e re f o re , to the extent that Mosley raises a Due Process Clause challenge to the procedures th a t resulted in these punishments, his challenges must fail. 3 L o ss of Good-Time Credit T h e Constitution does not give prisoners the right to earn good-time credits. Wolff v. M c D o n n e ll, 418 U.S. 539, 557 (1974). But states can give prisoners that right. When states e n a ct statutes that give prisoners the right to earn good-time credits and allow them to be ta k e n away for misbehavior, the Due Process Clause protects against their arbitrary d e p riv a tio n . Teague v. Quarterman, 482 F.3d 769, 774 (5th Cir. 2007). The reason is that g o o d -tim e credits bestowed under such statutes give prisoners a "liberty interest" in their e a rly release. See Malchi, 211 F.3d at 957; Madison, 104 F.3d at 768. In Texas, there are two ways prisoners can be released early: parole and mandatory s u p e rv is io n . Teague, 482 F.3d at 774. Because Texas's parole statute leaves the decision of whether to grant parole up to the " to ta l and unfettered discretion of the State," it does not give prisoners who possess goodtim e credits a liberty interest in their early release on parole. Id. As a result, the Due Process C lau se does not protect against the arbitrary deprivation of good-time credits insofar as it m ig h t affect the state's parole decision. In contrast, mandatory supervision gives the state little or no discretion in deciding w h e th e r to release a prisoner early. Id. at 774-75. Under the current mandatory supervision s ta tu t e , which became effective September 1, 1997, the state must release a prisoner whose tim e served and good-time credits equal his prison sentence unless (1) the prisoner is serving a sentence for or has previously been convicted of a specified list of crimes or (2) a panel 4 d e te rm in e s that (a) the prisoner's good-time credits are "not an accurate reflection of the in m a te 's potential for rehabilitation" and (b) the prisoner's release "would endanger the p u b lic ." See TEX. GOV'T CODE ANN. 508.147, 508.149 (Vernon 2004). Under the p re v io u s mandatory supervision statute, which applies to Mosley because he committed his c rim e in 1989, there was no provision for a panel determination. See TEX. CODE CRIM. P ROC. ANN. art. 42.18 8(c) (Vernon Supp. 1990); Ex parte Hall, 995 S.W.2d 151, 152 (Tex. C rim . App. 1999) (eligibility for mandatory supervision determined by statute in effect at the tim e the crime was committed). Instead, the state was required to release a prisoner whose tim e served and good-time credits equaled his prison sentence unless he was serving a s e n te n c e for a specified list of crimes. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 42.18 8(c) (V ern o n Supp. 1990). Because the state has little to no discretion under these mandatory su p e rv isio n statutes, prisoners who possess good-time credits have a liberty interest in their e a rly release provided they are otherwise eligible for mandatory supervision. See Teague, 4 8 2 F.3d at 776 (possession of good-time credits under current mandatory supervision statute g iv e s prisoners a liberty interest in their early release); Malchi, 211 F.3d at 957-58 (po sses sion of good-time credits under prior mandatory supervision statute gives prisoners a liberty interest in their early release). M o s le y' s good-time credits, however, do not give him a liberty interest in early release b e c a u s e he is ineligible for mandatory supervision. There are two reasons why. First, a p riso n er who is sentenced to life imprisonment can never be eligible for mandatory 5 s u p e rv is io n because his time served and good time credits will never equal his life. Arnold v . Cockrell, 306 F.3d 277, 279 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Ex parte Franks, 71 S.W.3d 327, 328 (T e x . Crim. App. 2001)). Second, Mosley's crime, aggravated robbery, is one of the s p e c if ie d crimes under the pre-1997 mandatory supervision statute for which early release is unavailable. TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art 42.18 8(c)(11) (Vernon Supp. 1990) (m ak ing prisoners convicted of aggravated robbery ineligible for release under mandatory s u p e rv is io n ). Because Mosley is ineligible for early release under mandatory supervision, h is loss of good-time credits does not violate a liberty interest in early release protected by th e Due Process Clause. C o n c lu s io n F o r the foregoing reasons, the court recommends that summary judgment be granted a n d Mosley's petition dismissed with prejudice. A d d itio n a lly, the court finds that Mosley has not made a substantial showing that ju ris ts of reason would find it debatable whether he has been denied a constitutional right or w h e th e r the court is correct in its procedural ruling. Therefore, the court recommends that c e rtif ic a te of appealability should not issue. Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). T h e parties have ten days from the service of this Memorandum and Recommendation to file written objections. Failure to file timely objections will preclude appellate review of f a c tu a l findings or legal conclusions, except for plain error. See 28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1)(c) (2 0 0 6 ); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72. 6 S ig n e d at Houston, Texas on November 20, 2008. 7

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