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Walker v. Inch

United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division

September 26, 2019

JEFFREY JEROME WALKER, Petitioner,
v.
MARK S. INCH, Respondent.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          ELIZABETH M. TIMOTHY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner Jeffrey Jerome Walker (“Walker”) filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus and supporting memorandum under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (ECF No. 1). Respondent (“the State”) filed a motion to dismiss with relevant portions of the record (ECF No. 13). Walker responded in opposition to the motion (ECF No. 15).

         The case was referred to the undersigned for the issuance of all preliminary orders and any recommendations to the district court regarding dispositive matters. See N.D. Fla. Loc. R. 72.2(B); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), (C) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). After careful consideration of the parties' pleadings and the record, the undersigned concludes that no evidentiary hearing is required for the disposition of this matter, and that the State's motion to dismiss should be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Walker's habeas petition challenges four disciplinary reports (“DRs”) issued by the Florida Department of Corrections, Log #110-051410, #110-141590, #150-180842, and #150-180885 (ECF No. 1 at 1). The State contends Walker's challenges to DR Log #150-180885 are moot because the DR was overturned (ECF No. 13 at 7-9). The State contends Walker's challenges to DR Log #150-180842 are unexhausted, and his challenges to DR Log #110-051401 and #110-141590 are untimely, unexhausted, and procedurally barred (id. at 9-14). The State additionally contends Walker's substantive and procedural due process challenges to DR Log #110-051410, #110-141590, and #150-180842 are without merit, because none of the disciplinary decisions resulted in a deprivation of a constitutionally recognized liberty interest (id. at 15-23). Further, Walker completed his terms of disciplinary confinement, so his constitutional challenges to the DRs are moot (id. at 21).

         II. DISCUSSION

         “[A] case is moot when the issues presented are no longer ‘live' or the parties lack a legally cognizable interest in the outcome.” Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 496, 89 S.Ct. 1944, 23 L.Ed.2d 491 (1969). “Put another way, [a] case is moot when it no longer presents a live controversy with respect to which the court can give meaningful relief.” Fla. Ass'n of Rehab. Facilities, Inc. v. Fla. Dep't of Health & Rehab. Servs., 225 F.3d 1208, 1217 (11th Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). Whether an action is moot is a jurisdictional matter. See Bailey v. Southerland, 821 F.2d 277, 278 (5th Cir. 1987). “Striking at the very heart of federal subject matter jurisdiction, a mootness issue quite clearly can be raised sua sponte if not addressed by the parties.” Sannon v. United States, 631 F.2d 1247, 1250 (5th Cir.1980) (internal footnote and citation omitted).

         In Medberry v. Crosby, 351 F.3d 1049 (11th Cir. 2003), the Eleventh Circuit applied the mootness doctrine to a prison disciplinary proceeding and held that where a prisoner has completed an imposed term of administrative segregation before he files his federal habeas petition, the petition is moot when filed and cannot be revived by collateral consequences. 351 F.3d at 1053 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         Here, the record demonstrates that with respect to DR Log #110-051410, Walker was sentenced to 30 days in disciplinary confinement on October 4, 2005 (Ex. A at 1-2).[1] Walker lost no gain time (id.). Walker does not dispute he completed service of his term of disciplinary confinement prior to filing this habeas action. Therefore, Walker's constitutional challenges to this DR are moot.

         The same is true with respect to DR Log #110-141590. Walker was sentenced to 30 days in disciplinary confinement on December 5, 2014 (Ex. B at 1-2). Again, he lost no gain time (id.). Walker previously challenged this DR in a habeas action in this court, Walker v. Fla. Dep't of Corr., No. 5:15cv25/MW/EMT. The court determined that Walker's petition was moot, because Walker finished service of his disciplinary sentence on December 31, 2014, prior to the date he filed his habeas petition. Walker, No. 5:15cv25/MW/EMT, 2016 WL 1426011, at *1 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 18, 2016), Report and Recommendation Adopted by, 2016 WL 1436672, at *1 (N.D. Fla. Apr. 10, 2016). Walker's constitutional challenges to this DR are moot.

         With respect to DR Log #150-180842, Walker was sentenced to 60 days in disciplinary confinement on August 7, 2018, but he was given credit for 30 days of administrative confinement “for a total of thirty (30) days disciplinary confinement time remaining to serve” (Ex. C at 1-2). Walker lost no gain time (id.). He does not dispute he completed service of his term of disciplinary confinement prior to filing this habeas actin. Therefore, Walker's constitutional challenges to this DR are also moot.

         Finally, with respect to DR Log #150-180885, Walker was sentenced to 15 days in disciplinary confinement on August 23, 2018 (Ex. D at 1-2). On September 21, 2018, the DR was overturned during the appeal process (id.). Walker's challenges to this DR are moot.

         In sum, because Walker completed service of his sentences in disciplinary confinement by the time he filed his § 2254 petition, on January 31, 2019 (see ECF No. 1 at 26, 28), his challenges to all of the DRs are moot.

         Walker's contention that the disciplinary decisions will delay his release on parole, or adversely affect his presumptive release date, does not remove the mootness impediment. Walker is serving a life sentence (see ECF No. 13 at 16). Florida's parole system creates no constitutional right to release on parole. See Jonas v. Wainwright, 779 F.2d 1576, 1577 (11th Cir. 1986); Hunter v. Fla. Parole & Probation Comm'n, 674 F.2d 847, 848 (11th Cir. 1982). Walker does not have a legitimate expectation of liberty or right to expect release on a certain date even if he has been given a presumptive parole release date. See Tooma v. David, 381 F.Appx. 977, 979 (11th Cir. 2010) (unpublished). Further, the Florida parole authority has discretion to give such weight as it might deem necessary, or no weight at all, to administrative disciplinary decisions. See Ferguson v. Buss, No. 4:10cv232/MMP/WCS, 2011 WL 3625703, at *1 (N.D. Fla. June 17, 2011) (unpublished), Report and Recommendation Adopted by, 2011 WL 3611407 (N.D. Fla. Aug. 17, 2011). Any effect of the DRs on Walker's presumptive parole release date or future parole prospects is too speculative to satisfy the “live case or controversy” requirement of Article III. See Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 487, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 132 L.Ed.2d 418 (1995) ...


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