United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
POLSTER CHAPPELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jahi Hasanati, a prisoner in the custody of the Florida
Department of Corrections who is also a proclaimed sovereign
citizen, initiated this action by filing a Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Doc. #1) on
January 30, 2015. Petitioner challenges a disciplinary report
he received at Desoto Correctional Institution stemming from
attempting to bite a correctional officer. Petitioner is now
proceeding on his Amended Petition challenging the
disciplinary report, of which the disciplinary team found him
guilty. As a result, Petitioner served sixty-days in
disciplinary confinement and forfeited ninety-days gain time
(Doc. #11, Amended Petition).
filed a Response opposing the Petition (Doc. #18, Response)
and attached supporting exhibits (Docs. #18-1 through #18-4).
Respondents point out that Petitioner did not properly
exhaust his challenge to the disciplinary report by filing a
petition for relief in the State court. Response at 7-11.
Consequently, Respondents argue that Petitioner's claims
are unexhausted and procedurally defaulted. Id.
Turning to address the merits, Respondents argue that
Petitioner was afforded all of the due process protections
required under the United States Constitution. Id.
Factual History and Procedural Background
from an incident that occurred around 4:00 p.m. on December
4, 2014, Hasanati was issued a disciplinary report
(“DR”) for “assault or attempted assault on
a correctional officer” in violation of Florida
Administrative Code Rule 33-601.314. Response at 4, Exh. 2.
Immediately preceding the incident, Correctional Officer
Woods, the coordinator for Desoto Correctional
Institution's security threat group, questioned Hasanati
about documents Hasanati had previously filed with
Desoto's library clerk referencing the Uniform Commercial
Code and the Sovereign Citizen movement. Doc. #18-2 at 1. In
the disciplinary report, Woods explained that while he was
questioning Hasanati about the sovereign citizen movement,
Hasanati became “argumentative to the questioning of
his legal work.” Woods explained to Hasanati he would
be going to administrative confinement pending the outcome of
the investigation. Woods stated that Hasanati then began
screaming down the hallway. Woods instructed Hasanati to
submit to hand restraints, but he refused every order. Woods
then went to grab Hasanati's right wrist while Hasanati
was sitting down, at which point Hasanati tried to bite Woods
disciplinary report identifies correctional officer Rinvil as
a witness. Rinval's written witness statement confirms
that Hasanati refused to obey every order, but does not state
that Hasanati tried to bite Woods. Doc. #18-3 at 23.
received notice of the charge on December 5, 2014. Doc. #18-2
at 1. An investigation into the charge commenced on December
5 and ended on December 8, 2014. Id. On December 11,
2014, the disciplinary hearing commenced with England and
Stewart presiding. Id. Petitioner waived his right
to be present at the disciplinary hearing and signed the 24
hour/refusal to appear waiver form. Doc. #18-2 at 10. The
disciplinary team found Petitioner guilty as set forth in
Woods' disciplinary report. The disciplinary finding
further states that Rinvil witnessed Hasanati's actions.
The disciplinary team also noted that Hasanati did not
request any additional witnesses or evidence during the
investigation, and that the team reviewed Hasanati's
witness statement before reaching its conclusion.
Standard of Review
28 U.S.C. § 2254 and Disciplinary Proceedings
prisoner who is deprived of gain time as a result of a prison
disciplinary proceeding that allegedly violated due process
may seek federal habeas review, but such review is governed
by restrictions set forth under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Medberry, 351 F.3d at 1054. Under the deferential
review standard, habeas relief may not be granted regarding a
claim adjudicated on the merits in state court unless the
adjudication of the claim:
(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved
an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal
law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States;
(2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable
determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented
in the State court proceeding.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Cullen v. Pinholster,
___U.S.___, 131 S.Ct. 1388, 1398 (2011). ''This is a
difficult to meet, and highly deferential standard for
evaluating state-court rulings, which demands that the
state-court decisions be given the benefit of the
doubt.'' Id. (internal quotations and
citations omitted). See also Harrington v. Richter,
___U.S.___, 131 S.Ct. 770, 786 (2011) (pointing out that
''if [' 2254(d)'s] standard is difficult to
meet, that is because it was meant to be.''Both the
Eleventh Circuit and the Supreme Court broadly interpret what
is meant by an ''adjudication on the
merits.'' Childers v. Floyd, 642 F.3d 953,
967-68 (11th Cir. 2011). Thus, a state court's summary
rejection of a claim, even without explanation, qualifies as
an adjudication on the merits that warrants deference by a
federal court. Id.; see also Ferguson v.
Culliver, 527 F.3d 1144, 1146 (11th Cir. 2008). Indeed,
“unless the state court clearly states that its
decision was based solely on a state procedural rule [the
Court] will presume that the state court has rendered an
adjudication on the merits when the petitioner's claim
'is the same claim rejected' by the court.”
Childers v. Floyd, 642 F.3d at 969 (quoting
Early v. Packer, 537 U.S. 3, 8 (2002)).
legal principle is 'clearly established' within the
meaning of this provision only when it is embodied in a
holding of [the United States Supreme] Court.”
Thaler v. Haynes, ___U.S.___, 130 S.Ct. 1171, 1173
(2010); see also Carey v. Musladin, 549 U.S. 70, 74
(2006)(citing Williams v. Taylor, 529 U.S. 362, 412
(2000))(recognizing ''[c]learly established federal
law'' consists of the governing legal principles,
rather than the dicta, set forth in the decisions of
the United States Supreme Court at the time the state court
issues its decision). AA state court decision involves an
unreasonable application of federal law when it identifies
the correct legal rule from Supreme Court case law but
unreasonably applies that rule to the facts of the
petitioner's case, or when it unreasonably extends, or
unreasonably declines to extend, a legal principle from
Supreme Court case law to a new context.''
Ponticelli v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of Corr.,
690 F.3d 1271, 1291 (11th Cir. 2012)(internal quotations and
citations omitted). The 'unreasonable application'
inquiry requires the Court to conduct the two-step analysis
set forth in Harrington v. Richter, 131 S.Ct. 770.
First, the Court determines what arguments or theories
support the state court decision; and second, the Court must
determine whether 'fairminded jurists could disagree
those arguments or theories are inconsistent with the holding
in a prior' Supreme Court decision. Id ...