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Rivera v. Winn

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 7, 2017

Reynaldo Vasquez Rivera, Petitioner,
Louis Winn, Warden, Respondent.



         Currently pending before the Court is Petitioner Reynaldo Vasquez Rivera's pro se Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in Federal Custody (“Petition”) (Doc. 1). Respondent has filed a Return and Answer (“Answer”) (Doc. 13). Petitioner did not file a Reply. The Petition is ripe for adjudication.

         As an initial matter, Petitioner named Louis Winn, Warden of the United States Penitentiary-Tucson (“USP-Tucson”) as the Respondent. See Petition (Doc. 1). The Court takes judicial notice, however, that Louis Winn is no longer warden of USP- Tucson. As such, the Court will substitute the new Warden of USP-Tucson, J. T. Shartle, as Respondent pursuant to Rule 25(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.


         At the time Petitioner filed his Petition (Doc. 1), Petitioner was an inmate incarcerated at USP Tucson in Tucson, Arizona. See Petition (Doc. 1). Petitioner was released from custody on September 6, 2016. See Fed. Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) Inmate Locater, (last visited July 27, 2017).

         On March 19, 2014 at approximately 10:20 a.m., Special Investigative Support Technician (“SIS Technician”) Madrid conducted a pat search on inmate Reynaldo Vazquez-Rivera. Response (Doc. 13), Talplacido Decl. (Exh. “A”), Incident Report No. 2561169 (Rewrite) (Attach. “5”) at 8 & Discipline Hearing Report (Attach. “5”) at 2. SIS Technician Madrid “found what appeared to be a cell phone charger.” Response (Doc. 13), Exh. “A”, Attach. “5” at 2 & 8. Petitioner stated that it was to charge his MP3 player; however, SIS Technician Madrid demonstrated that the charger did not fit the MP3 player port. Response (Doc. 13), Exh. “A”, Attach. “5” at 2 & 8. Subsequently, SIS Technician Madrid and SIS Technician A. Cristinzio conducted a cell search in F-2 cell 110. Response (Doc. 13), Exh. “A”, Memo. to Operations Lieut. 3/19/2014 (Attach. “5”) at 13. During this search, “one black Alcatel cell phone was found in a box of Tide laundry soap, within the common area of the cell.” Id., Exh. “A”, Attach. “5” at 13. SIS Technician A. Cristinzio notified the Operations Lieutenant, “and the cell phone was placed in the SIS evidence safe.” Id., Exh. “A”, Attach. “5” at 13. SIS Technician D. Madrid charged Petitioner with the prohibited act of Possession of a Hazardous Tool in violation of Code 108. Id., Exh. “A”, Attach. “5” at 8. Later the same day, Lieutenant M. Castro delivered the incident report to Petitioner. Id.; see also Petition (Doc. 1) at 13. Lieutenant Castro also investigated the incident and advised Petitioner of his rights. Response (Doc. 13), Exh. “A”, Attach. “5” at 1, 9. During Lieutenant Castro's investigation, petitioner stated, “The phone and charger was mine. My celly knew nothing about.” Id. Exh. “A”, Attach. “5” at 9. Petitioner did not request a staff representative. Id. Lieutenant Castro forwarded the Incident Report to the Unit Discipline Committee (“UDC”) for further disposition. Id.

         On March 25, 2014, the UDC conducted its hearing. Response (Doc. 13), Talplacido Decl. (Exh. “A”), Incident Report No. 2561169 (Rewrite) (Attach. “5”) at 8. Petitioner stated “I take full responsibility. My cellmate didn't know anything.” Id. Based on the severity of the alleged misconduct, the UDC referred the matter to the Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”) for final disposition, and if Petitioner was found guilty, recommended “any available sanctions that will deter future behavior.” Id. Also on March 25, 2014, Petitioner was provided with a Notice of Discipline Hearing Before the DHO and his rights at that hearing. Response (Doc. 13), Exh. “A, ” Attach. “5” at 4- 5. Petitioner indicated that he did not wish to have a staff representative at his DH oh hearing. Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “5” at 5.

         On July 22, 2014, petitioner had a DHO hearing before DHO T. Phillips. See Response (Doc. 13), Exh. “A, ” Discipline Hearing Report (Attach. “5”) at 1-3. DHO Phillips considered the evidence photographs; chain of custody log; staff memorandum; and Petitioner's admissions to the investigating Lieutenant, the UDC, and the DHO. Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “5” at 1-2. Accordingly, DHO Phillips determined, “[b]ased on the admission and weight of the evidence, ” that petitioner “committed the prohibited act(s) of Possession, manufacture, introduction, or loss of a hazardous tool, Code(s) 108.” Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “5” at 2. DHO Phillips imposed sanctions totaling thirty (30) days Disciplinary Segregation, forty-one (41) days Disallowance of Good Conduct Time, one year lost phone privileges, one year lost commissary, and one year lost visitation. Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “5” at 3. On August 4, 2014, DHO Phillips signed the DHO report and it was delivered to Petitioner on the same date. Id.

         On September 9, 2014 Petitioner filed his Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal regarding Disciplinary Case No. 2561169. Response (Doc. 13), Exh. “A, ” Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal (Attach. “6”) at 7. The Regional Director denied this appeal. Id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “6” at 5. Petitioner did not appeal to the General Counsel's Office.[1] See id., Exh. “A, ” Attach. “6.” On August 26, 2014, Petitioner filed his Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in Federal Custody (Doc. 1). Petitioner asserts that the incident report in this matter was “inappropriately re-written in violation of the [C]ode of [F]ederal [R]egulation.” Petition (Doc. 1) at 4. Petitioner further asserts that this “violation denied the Petitioner and the right to receive notice of the charges within 24 hours of that incident as required by Wolff.” Id. Petitioner also alleges that “[t]he warden has violated the law of settled expectation by refusing to release the petitioner from the prison [ ] and the continued detention in the S[pecial] H[ousing] U[nit] constitute illegal detention.” Id. at 5. Petitioner seeks reversal of the disciplinary conviction, a return of forty-one (41) days good time, and immediate release from the Special Housing Unit. Id.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Jurisdiction-In General

         “Federal courts are always ‘under an independent obligation to examine their own jurisdiction, ' . . . and a federal court may not entertain an action over which it has no jurisdiction.” Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 865 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990)). “Generally, motions to contest the legality of a sentence must be filed under § 2255 in the sentencing court, while petitions that challenge the manner, location, or conditions of a sentence's execution must be brought pursuant to § 2241 in the custodial court.” Id. at 864. Therefore, before proceeding to any other issue a court must establish whether a habeas petition is filed pursuant to § 2241 or § 2255 to determine whether jurisdiction is proper. Id. at 865.

         Here, Petitioner does not claim that the sentencing court imposed an illegal sentence; rather he seeks relief with respect to disciplinary proceedings while incarcerated at a federal facility. As such, Petitioner is challenging the manner, location or condition of the execution of his sentence. See e.g., Rogers v. United States, 180 F.3d 349 (1st Cir. 1999) (Section 2241 petition is appropriate vehicle to challenge the correctness of a jail-time credit determination, once administrative remedies have been exhausted); Nettles v. Grounds, 830 F.3d 922, 927 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc), (“[c]hallenges to the validity of any confinement or to the particulars affecting its duration are the province of habeas corpus[.]” (quoting Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750, 124 S.Ct. 1303, 158 L.Ed.2d 32 (2004)); Tucker v. Carlson, 925 F.2d 330, 332 (9th Cir. 1991) (a prisoner's challenge to the “manner in which his sentence was executed . . . [is] maintainable only in a petition for habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241”); Weinstein v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 902 F.2d 1451, 1452 (9th Cir. 1990) (“The district court had jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 to review a claim by a federal prisoner challenging a decision of the United States Parole Commission”). Such a challenge must be brought pursuant to § 2241 in the custodial court.

         B. ...

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