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Lee v. Hooks

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

May 1, 2018

DOMINIQUE LEE, Petitioner,
v.
ERIK A HOOKS, Respondent.

          ORDER

          TERRENCE W. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The matter is before the court on respondent's motion for summary judgment (DE 17) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). The issues raised have been fully briefed and are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, the court grants respondent's motion.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         On May 31, 2017, petitioner, a state inmate, filed this pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging the disciplinary convictions he received for possession of contraband (D-3) and fighting or confrontation (C-4) at Tabor Correctional Institution ("Tabor") on October 17, 2016. On June 7, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr. entered an order of deficiency informing petitioner, inter alia, that he did not file his petition on the proper form. Petitioner then filed his corrected petition on the proper form on June 19, 2017. In his corrected petition, petitioner alleged the following two claims pursuant to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment: (1) he did not receive notice of his disciplinary charges 24 hours before the hearing since his disciplinary reports were not signed and dated before he appeared before the disciplinary hearing officer ("DHO"); and (2) the DHO was not impartial because there was no evidence to support a finding of guilt as to either disciplinary charge.

         On January 25, 2018, respondent filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that petitioner's disciplinary convictions do not violate petitioner's constitutional rights. Alternatively, respondent argues that the petition should be dismissed because petitioner failed to exhaust his state court remedies.[1] The motion was fully briefed.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         The summary of the records developed at petitioner's October 17, 2016, disciplinary hearings are as follows:

[D-3 Offense]
Based on the reporting party's Statement on 9/25/16 Approx 1630, SGT. S. Brown states while conducting inventory on I/Dominique Lee 0237068 due to I/M being placed in restrictive housing the following contraband was found; 1 extra toothpaste, 1 extra comb, 3 plastic bags, 1 torn cloth with unknown substance, 3 rubber gloves, 3 packs of crackers, 1 dread lock, 1 homemade necklace, 5 color sheets, 30 extra sheets of carbon paper, 1 newspaper, 1 photo magnet, 10 empty yellow envelopes, 1 wire 1 altered ear buds, 1 oil I nasal spray bottle, 1 plastic medication poster, 2 elastic strips, 4 Efferdent tablets, 2 large band-aids, 1 paper [] cli[p]. Sgt Brown states contraband was photographed and sent to contraband locker. Sgt Brown states I/M was informed of disciplinary action and ID'D by ID card. Inmate Dominique Lee #0237068 is being charged with DO3 offense....
Following the reading of the summary of evidence, the I/M was explained his disciplinary and appeal rights. The I/M pled not guilty to the DO3 offense. The inmate submitted a written statement. The inmate did not request staff assistance nor live witnesses. The inmate requested physical evidence but did not state what evidence. The DHO did review copies of contraband attached to the package. The inmate requested a written statement from Chaplin Hovis who stated NCDPS religious policy does not allow a necklace as religious item for Rastafarian inmates. He also writes the necklace looks to be homemade. The inmate's written statement indicates nothing. Based on the reporting party's statement and the investigating officer's report, the inmate is found guilty of the DO3 offense .... I/M restrained and unable to sign. He was provided a copy of record of hearing, punishment and appeal form. This was witnessed by A.Cox.
[CO4 Offense]
Based on the reporting party's statement on 9/25/16 approx 1145, C/O B. Bullard states while in red control he saw I/M Wayne McCullers(sic) 0855961 and I/M Dominique Lee 0237068 both go down to the ground fighting in C POD. C/O Bullard states he called for a Code 4....
Following the reading of the summary of evidence, the I/M was explained his disciplinary and appeal rights. The I/M pled not guilty to the CO4 offense. The inmate submitted a written statement. The inmate did not request staff assistance. The inmate did request video review which was conducted by UM Smith who reports inmate Lee Struck I/M McCullen after inmate McCullen had struck him. This was a physical altercation between two inmates. The inmate requested live witnesses and wrote C/O Bullard. He will not be called as a live witness due to currently not on the facility and he is the reporting party, statement attached. The inmate requested a written statement from Capt. Nolan and C/O Jenkins. Those statements are attached and will be reviewed by the DHO during the hearing. During the hearing, the inmate had nothing else to add. The inmate's written statement indicates the charge should be dismissed because he was assaulted. Capt. Nolan's written statement indicates he reviewed the camera and both [inmates] were fighting and he can't say who started it. C/O Jenkins's written statement indicates he has no knowledge of an incident that occurred on 9/25/16. Based on the reporting party's statement and the investigating officer's report, the inmate was found guilty of the CO4 offense....
I/M restrained and unable to sign. He was provided a copy of the record of hearing, punishment and appeal form. This ...

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