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Ramdeo v. Warden, FCC Coleman-LOW

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Ocala Division

December 23, 2019

SONNY AUSTIN RAMDEO, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, FCC COLEMAN - LOW, Respondent.

          ORDER

          MARCIA MORALES HOWARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Status

         Petitioner Sonny Ramdeo, an inmate of the Federal penal system, initiated this action on October 19, 2017, [1] by filing a pro se complaint (Doc. 1). On November 3, 2017, the Court directed Ramdeo to file an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 using the court-approved form. See Doc. 5. Ramdeo responded by filing an Amended Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (Amended Petition; Doc. 11). In the Amended Petition, Ramdeo challenges a 2017 disciplinary hearing and the resulting punishment. Ramdeo raises three ground for relief. See Amended Petition at 6-18.[2] Respondent has submitted a memorandum in opposition to the Amended Petition. See Response to Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (Response; Doc. 14) with exhibits (Resp. Ex.) and Supplemental Exhibits (Doc. 17-1; Resp. Supp. Ex.). On April 9, 2019, Ramdeo filed a brief in reply. See Petitioner's Reply to the Respondent's Opposition (Reply; Doc. 14.). This case is ripe for review.

         II. Procedural History

         On July 9, 2015, the United States District Court Southern District of Florida sentenced Ramdeo to a term of incarceration of 240 months in prison for the crimes of wire fraud and money laundering. Resp. Ex. 1. On May 23, 2017, Ramdeo, while in prison, filed Administrative Remedy 902896-F1 at the institutional level requesting to remain in his unit during sanitation hours. Resp. Supp. Ex. A. The remedy was rejected because Ramdeo did not submit his request through a counselor or submit an informal resolution form prior to submitting a request for Administrative Remedy. Id.

         On May 31, 2017, prison staff received Administrative Remedy 902896-F1, Informal Resolution, and supporting paperwork from Ramdeo via institutional mail. Resp. Ex. 2. Staff reviewed the Informal Resolution form Ramdeo submitted and discovered the form contained inaccurate information and that Ramdeo had forged portions of the form purported to be completed by Counselor Nowicki. Id. Prison officials charged Ramdeo with counterfeiting or forging any documentation, article of identification, money, or official paper. Id. Prison officials prepared an Incident Report, number 2994417, detailing these charges on June 2, 2017, and delivered a copy of that report to Ramdeo on the same day. Id.

         On June 2, 2017, Prison officials began a formal investigation. After advising Ramdeo of his right to remain silent, an investigator interviewed Ramdeo concerning the allegations, and Ramdeo stated that, “Yes, I filled out that form, Counselor Nowicki did not fill in any part of it.” Id. Based on Ramdeo's statement and other evidence, the investigator determined the charge to be valid and referred the incident report to the Unit Discipline Committee (UDC) for further action. Id. The UDC held a hearing on June 7, 2017, at which Ramdeo made the following comment:

I received a rejection notice on 5-24-2017 that stated I needed to submit an informal resolution. The informal resolution form was completed with the facts, there was no forging because I was following the instructions on the rejection notice. Counselor Nowicki delivered the BP9 on 5-23-2107, which should not have been rejected in the first place.

Id. At the conclusion of the hearing, the UDC found that Ramdeo committed the prohibited act as charged and advised Ramdeo of its finding and the right to file an appeal within twenty calendar days. Id. As a sanction, Ramdeo lost commissary access and email privileges for thirty days. Id. Ramdeo did not submit an appeal within the allotted twenty-day period.

         On July 25, 2017, Ramdeo filed Administrative Remedy 910066-F1, at the institutional level requesting the Incident Report be expunged due to staff misconduct. Resp. Ex. 3. Prison officials rejected as untimely Ramdeo's Administrative Remedy on July 26, 2017. Id. Ramdeo filed Administrative Remedy 910066-R1 with the Southeast Regional Office (SRO) on August 8, 2017, which also rejected it as SRO concurred with the institution's rationale for rejection of Administrative Remedy 910066-F1. Id. On September 19, 2017, Ramdeo filed Administrative Remedy 91066-A1 with the central office of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Id. The central office rejected the Administrative Remedy for raising multiple issues and because they concurred with the SRO and institution's rejection of Administrative Remedy 910066-F1. Id. The central office advised Ramdeo that he could resubmit his Administrative Remedy at the institutional level if staff provided a memo stating late filing was not his fault. Id. Ramdeo did not file any additional Administrative Remedies regarding Incident Report number 2994417. Id.

         III. Governing Legal Principles

         A. Standard of Review

         Prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal prosecution, and, therefore, the full panoply of rights that are due a defendant in a criminal proceeding do not apply in prison disciplinary proceedings. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 2975 (1974). However, inmates are entitled to some due process protections. Id. Those protections include: (1) written notice of the charges at least 24 hours before a hearing to enable the inmate to prepare a defense; (2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence if doing so is not an undue hazard to institutional safety; and (3) a written explanation of the evidence relied on and reasons for disciplinary actions. Id. On the other hand, an inmate does not have a right to confrontation and cross-examination, or a right to counsel. Id. at 567, 570.

         Additionally, disciplinary decisions comport with the requirements of procedural due process when there is “some evidence” to support the disciplinary decision by the fact finder. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Institution v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445 (1985). In other words, the relevant question is whether “any evidence” supports the conclusion reached by the prison officials. Id. at 455-56; Young v. Jones, 37 F.3d 1347, 1460 (11th Cir. 1994). Notably, the scope of this Court's review of prison disciplinary actions is limited. Hill, U.S. at 455-56; Young, 37 F.3d at 1460. It does not require an examination of the “entire record” or reweighing the evidence. Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56. ...


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