Shelton v. Davis

Filing 4

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. A Certificate of Appealability is denied. (Signed by Judge Sim Lake) Parties notified. (aboyd, 4)

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United States District Court Southern District of Texas ENTERED July 21, 2017 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS HOUSTON DIVISION GREG SHELTON, TDCJ #2056565, § § § § § § § § § § § § § Petitioner, v. LORIE DAVIS, Director, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division, Respondent. David J. Bradley, Clerk CIVIL ACTION NO. H-17-2139 MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER The petitioner, Greg Shelton, also known as Gregory James Shelton (TDCJ #2056565), has filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus By a No. 1) , Person in State Custody seeking relief from a ("Petition") (Docket Entry prison disciplinary conviction. After considering the pleadings and the applicable law, the court will dismiss this action for the reasons explained below. I. Background Shelton is currently incarcerated at the McConnell Unit as the result of a murder conviction that was entered against him in 2015, in the 23rd District Court of Brazoria County, Texas. 1 Shelton received a life sentence, which was affirmed on direct appeal. 1 Petition, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 2. See 17-217J Shelton v. State, No. 5 WL 5851899 (Tex. App. - Houston [1st Dist.] ef'd) < challenge that conviction in this Shelton does not aCL...Lvu. Shelton seeks relief from a prison disciplinary conviction that was entered against him at the McConnell Unit in late 2016. 2 In particular, Shelton challenges his conviction in disciplinary case #20170089846 for possessing a weapon in violation of prison rules. 3 As a result of this disciplinary conviction, Shelton spent 18 days in pre-hearing detention or solitary confinement. 4 Shelton filed grievances to challenge the conviction, but his appeals were unsuccessful. 5 In two related claims for relief, Shelton contends that the challenged disciplinary violation of the conviction was right to due entered against process because him there in was insufficient evidence to support his conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. 6 For reasons explained below, the court concludes that Shelton is not entitled to relief under the legal standard that governs disciplinary proceedings in the state prison context. 2 Id. at 5. 3 Id. at 5-6. 4 Petition, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 5. 5 Id. at 5-6. 6 Id. at 6-7. -2- II. An Prison Disciplinary Proceedings inmate's rights in the prison disciplinary setting are governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 2963, 2974-75 (1974). See Wolff v. McDonnell, 94 S. Ct. Prisoners charged with institutional rules violations are entitled to rights under the Due Process Clause only when the disciplinary action may result in a sanction that will infringe upon a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Sandin v. Conner, 115 S. Ct. 2293, 2302 (1995). See Liberty interests emanate from either the Due Process Clause itself or from state law. See Kentucky Dep't of Corrections v. 1904, 1908 (1989) (citation omitted). Thompson, 109 S. Ct. To the extent that the disciplinary conviction may affect the petitioner's eligibility for early release from prison, the Due Process Clause does not include a right to conditional release before the expiration of a valid sentence. See Greenholtz v. Correctional Complex, 99 S. Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and Ct. 2100, 2104 ( 1979) . Under these circumstances the petitioner's claims depend on the existence of a constitutionally protected liberty interest created by state law. The Supreme Court has decided that only those state-created substantive interests that "inevitably affect the duration of prisoner's] [a sentence" may qualify for constitutional protection under the Due Process Clause. Sandin, 115 S. Ct. at 2302. also Orellana v. Kyle, 65 F.3d 29, 31-32 (5th Cir. 1995). In Texas only those inmates who are eligible for the form of parole known as -3- mandatory supervision have a release. constitutional expectancy of early See Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 956 (5th Cir. 2000). As a result, a Texas prisoner cannot demonstrate a constitutional violation in the prison disciplinary satisfying the following criteria: (1) context first he must be eligible for early release on mandatory supervision; and (2) conviction at issue must have resulted in a earned good-time credit. without See id. at 957-58 the disciplinary loss of previously (explaining that only those Texas inmates who are eligible for early release on mandatory supervision have a protected liberty interest in their previously earned good-time credit) . Shelton cannot demonstrate a constitutional violation in this case because he admits that he did not lose any previously earned good-time credit and that he is not otherwise eligible for mandatory supervision. 7 Malchi, This is fatal to Shelton's due process claims. 211 F.3d at 957-58. Under these circumstances, See Shelton cannot demonstrate a violation of the Due Process Clause, and his pending federal habeas corpus Petition must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. III. Certificate of Appealability Rule 11 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases now requires a district court to issue or deny a certificate of appealability 7 Petition, Docket Entry No. 1, p. 5 ~~ 16, 18. See also Tex. Gov't Code § 508.149(a) (2) (excluding Texas prisoners convicted of murder from eligibility for mandatory supervision) . -4- when entering a final order that is adverse to the petitioner. A certificate of appealability will not issue unless the petitioner makes "a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right," 28 U.S.C. demonstrate "that 2253 (c) (2), § reasonable would the Tennard v. Dretke, 124 S. Ct. 2562, 2565 (2004) controlling standard this Ct. 1595, requires a 1604 claims district wrong." 120 S. constitutional find assessment McDaniel, the jurists court's Slack v. of which requires a petitioner to debatable (2000)). or (quoting Under the petitioner to show "that reasonable jurists could debate whether (or, for that matter, agree that) the petition should have been resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were encouragement to proceed further.'" S. Ct. 1029, 1039 (2003) 'adequate Miller-El v. to deserve Cockrell, 123 Where denial of relief is based on procedural grounds the petitioner must show not only that "jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right," but also that they "would find it debatable whether correct in its procedural ruling." A district court may deny a the district court was Slack, 120 S. Ct. at 1604. certificate of appealability, sua sponte, without requiring further briefing or argument. See Alexander v. For Johnson, 211 F.3d 895, 898 (5th Cir. 2000). reasons set forth above, the court concludes that jurists of reason would not debate whether the petitioner states a valid claim or -5- that the Petition should be resolved in a different manner. Therefore, a certificate of appealability will not issue. IV. Conclusion and Order Based on the foregoing, the court ORDERS as follows: 1. The Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus By a Person in State Custody filed by Greg Shelton (Docket Entry No. 1) is DENIED and this case will be dismissed with prejudice. 2. A certificate of appealability is DENIED. The Clerk shall provide a copy of this Memorandum Opinion and Order to the parties. SIGNED at Houston, Texas, on this the 21st day of July, 2017. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE -6-

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