United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. FLANAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on respondent's motion for
summary judgment (DE 7), filed pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 56. The issues raised have been fully briefed
and are ripe for decision. For the following reasons, the
court grants respondent's motion.
OF THE CASE
September 20, 2017, petitioner, a state inmate proceeding pro
se, filed the instant habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28
U.S.C.§ 2254. Petitioner challenges his disciplinary
convictions for substance possession, possession of cell
phone, and unauthorized tobacco use, which he received at
Caledonia Correctional Institution (“Caledonia
C.I.”) on March 15, 2017. The court conducted its
initial review of the petition on May 3, 2018, and allowed
the matter to proceed.
1, 2018, respondent filed the instant motion for summary
judgment, arguing that petitioner's disciplinary
proceedings and convictions did not violate petitioner's
constitutional rights. Alternatively, respondent asserts that
the petition should be dismissed because petitioner failed to
exhaust his state court remedies prior to bringing this
action. In support of the motion, respondent filed memorandum
of law, statement of material facts, and appendix.
Respondent's appendix included disciplinary hearing and
appeal record, as well as pertinent North Carolina Department
of Public Safety (“DPS”) policies and procedures.
Petitioner filed response in opposition on August 21, 2018,
which included memorandum of law, statement of material
facts, and appendix. Petitioner's appendix included
additional records from his disciplinary proceedings and
excerpts from pertinent DPS policies and procedures.
February 22, 2017, Caledonia C.I. officials searched
respondent's single-occupancy cell and found a package
containing 96 Suboxone strips, 30 Ecocet pills, one ounce of
marijuana, a small amount of tobacco, and a cell phone.
(Resp't's App., Ex. 1 (DE 10-1) at 18). Petitioner was
charged with the following offenses: 1) A-12 disciplinary
offense for substance possession; 2) A-16 disciplinary
offense for possess audio/image device; and 3) B-16
disciplinary offense for unauthorized tobacco use.
(Id. at 15). Caledonia C.I. officials held
petitioner's disciplinary hearing on March 15, 2017.
(Id. at 12). The summary of the record developed at
the disciplinary hearing is as follows:
C/O DEON FLOOD STATED ON 2/22/17 AT APPROXIMATELY 1445 HRS,
HE WAS CONDUCTING A ROUTINE SEARCH IN UNIT 2B BLOC, CELL #
ASSIGNED TO ABDULKADIR ALI #1431404. DURING HIS SEARCH HE
FOUND (96) HITS OF [SUBOXONE], (30) [ECOCET] PILLS, LARGE
AMOUNT [OF] TOBACCO & A LARGE AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA AND A
CELL PHONE. INMATE ALI IS CHARGED WITH AN A12, A16 AND A B16.
. . .
THE DHO EXPLAINED THE CHARGES, DISCIPLINARY AND APPEAL RIGHTS
TO I/M ALI. I/M PLED NOT GUILTY TO THE A12, A16 AND B16
OFFENSE[S]. THE INMATE WAS AFFORDED HIS RIGHTS DURING THE
DISCIPLINARY PROCESS. THE DHO EXPLAINED THE EVIDENCE TO THE
INMATE. INMATE STATED DURING THE HEARING NONE OF THE ITEMS
WAS HIS. INMATE MADE A WRITTEN STATEMENT.
INMATE ABDULKADIR ALI STATED THAT ON 2-22-17 OFFICER FLOOD[,
] UNIT MANAGER II CHRIS JONES[, ] AND UNIT MANAGER I RIOS DID
A CELL SEARCH OF INMATE'S ASSIGNED CELL. THERE WERE NO
CAMERAS IN SEGREGATION NOR [DID] THE STAFF VIDEO RECORD THEIR
ALLEGED FINDINGS & [THE INMATE] WAS NOT WITNESS TO THIS
SEARCH BECAUSE HE WAS DETAINED IN THE SHOWER. THESE
CONTRABAND ITEMS DON'T BELONG TO HIM & [HE] WAS NEVER
ISSUED A PROPER CELL INSPECTION WITH ITS PROPER FORM, TO
WHICH HE NEVER SIGNED ANYTHING [WITH] RESPECT TO THE STATUS
OF THIS CELL PRIOR TO BEING PLACED IN SEGREGATION.
INMATE[‘S PRIOR] BUNK WAS 2C8 & HIS BED WAS IN A
VERY COMMON AREA ACCESSIBLE TO ALL INMATES. IF HE SAID
[CONTRABAND] WAS IN MY PROPERTY, THEN WHY DID SGT. PITTMAN
NOT DO A THOROUGH INVENTORY OF MY PROPERTY. SURELY HE SHOULD
& WOULD HAVE FOUND THE ITEMS IN QUESTION. I/M REQUEST
THAT ALL HIS PHONE RECORDS & LOGS BE CHECKED &
MATCHED TO HIS PHONE PIN ALL CALLS MADE THROUGH GLOBAL TEL
LINK. INMATE CHECKED YES FOR A STATEMENT FROM SGT. PITTMAN.
SGT PITTMAN STATED ON 2/20/17 DID A SEARCH OF INMATE
ALI'[S] PROPERTY. AT THE TIME SHE WAS WORKING 3 BLOCKS
& [INVENTORYING] OTHER PROPERTY AS WELL DUE TO STAFF
SHORTAGE. C/O PITTMAN STATED SHE CHECKED IT AS THOROUGHLY [AS
POSSIBLE], BUT IT'S STILL [POSSIBLE] THAT SHE COULD HAVE
MISSED SOME THINGS DUE TO HER WATCHING THREE OTHER BLOCKS @
THE SAME TIME. THE PROPERTY WAS SECURE IN THE SGT.'S
OFFICE ON AREA 1 SIDE. INMATE CHECKED YES FOR LIVE WITNESS
FROM SGT PITTMAN. THE DHO DENIED LIVE WITNESS DUE TO OFFICER
PITTMAN HAS A STATEMENT IN THE DISCIPLINARY PACKAGE. OFFICER
PITTMAN'S STATEMENT WAS REFERENCES TO [sic]. INMATE
CHECKED YES FOR PHYSICAL EVIDENCE VIA CELL [INSPECTION] SHEET
AND VIDEO OF FINDINGS. ATTACHED TO THE DISCIPLINARY PACKAGE
IS A COPY OF THE CELL CONDITION SHEET. THERE WAS NO VIDEO
RECORDING OF THE INVENTORY THAT WAS CONDUCTED. INMATE CHECKED
NO FOR STAFF ASSISTANCE. A STATEMENT WAS OBTAINED FROM
OFFICER PITT, U/M II CHRIS JONES AND U/M I RAFAEL SANTORIOS.
C/O W. PITT STATED 2/22/17 @ APPROX. 1425 HRS, WHILE
[ASSISTING] DURING A SINGLE CELL SEARCH OF 4B2, ASSIGNED TO
INMATE ALI, HE FOUND A BLACK S.V.P. TOUCH SCREEN CELL PHONE
WATCH WITH (5) SIM CARDS & (1) S.D. MEMORY CARD HIDDEN
INSIDE INMATE ALI'S LEGAL MAIL. THESE ITEMS [ARE]
CONSIDERED CONTRABAND & WERE TURNED OVER TO THE OIC.
MR. JONES STATES, ON 2/22/17, OFC.'S FLOOD & PITT . .
. SEARCHED INMATE ALI & HIS CELL, 4B2. DURING THEIR
SEARCH THEY DISCOVERED A CELLPHONE, 96 [SUBOXONE] STRIPS,
30 ECOCET PILLS, MARIJUANA & TOBACCO. THE CONTRABAND WAS