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Strouse v. Wilson

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 4, 2014

JAMES STROUSE, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC D. WILSON, Respondent.[1]

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROBERT E. PAYNE, District Judge.

James Strouse, a federal prisoner incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution in Petersburg, Virginia ("FCI Petersburg"), brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241[2] ("§ 2241 Petition, " ECF No. 25). Strouse challenges the decision of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") to revoke fourteen (14) days of Good Conduct Time.

Wilson has moved for summary judgment on the grounds that, inter alia, Strouse has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Strouse has responded. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 31) will be granted.

During the course of these proceedings, the Court has admonished Strouse that:

"habeas corpus relief is appropriate only when a prisoner attacks the fact or duration of his confinement, see Preiser v. Rodriguez , 411 U.S. 475 (1973); whereas, challenges to the conditions of confinement that would not result in a definite reduction in the length of confinement are properly brought" by some other procedural vehicle.

(Mem. Order entered Jan. 24, 2013, at 1 (citing Olajide v. B.I.C.E. , 402 F.Supp.2d 688, 695 (E.D. Va. 2005).)[3] Here, the only circumstance that impacts the duration of Strouse's confinement is the disciplinary hearing that resulted in the forfeiture of fourteen (14) days of Strouse's Good Conduct Time. Therefore, in analyzing the Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court focuses on whether Strouse has exhausted his administrative remedies with the respect to that disciplinary hearing.

I. STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment must be rendered "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears the responsibility to inform the court of the basis for the motion, and to identify the parts of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file." Id . at 324 (internal quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and, by citing affidavits or "depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ' designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id . (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) and 56(e) (1986)).

In reviewing a summary judgment motion, the court "must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." United States v. Carolina Transformer Co. , 978 F.2d 832, 835 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). However, a mere scintilla of evidence will not preclude summary judgment. Anderson , 477 U.S. at 251 (citing Improvement Co. v. Munson , 81 U.S. (14 Wall.) 442, 448 (1872)). "[T]here is a preliminary question for the judge, not whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is any upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict for the party.. upon whom the onus of proof is imposed.'" Id . (quoting Munson , 81 U.S. at 448). Additionally, "Rule 56 does not impose upon the district court a duty to sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment.'" Forsyth v. Barr , 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc. , 953 F.2d 909, 915 & n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)); see Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3) ("The court need consider only the cited materials...

Wilson asks the Court to dismiss the § 2241 Petition because Strouse failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. As the exhaustion of administrative remedies is an affirmative defense, Wilson bears the burden of pleading and proving lack of exhaustion. Jones v. Bock , 549 U.S. 199, 216 (2007). In support of his argument, Wilson submitted the declaration of Cornelia J. Coll, a Paralegal Specialist at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina. (Mem. Law Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 ("Coll Decl."), ECF No. 32-1.) Additionally, Wilson submitted summaries of Strouse's various Administrative Remedy Requests (Coll. Decl. Attach. 5) and, inter alia, the Discipline Hearing Officer ("DHO") Report for the charge that resulted in Strouse's loss of Good Conduct Time (Coll Decl. Attach. 4, ECF No. 32-2 at 18-20 (as paginated by the Court's CM/ECF docketing system).) Strouse responded by submitting an unsworn memorandum (ECF No. 51). See United States v. White , 366 F.3d 291, 300 (4th Cir. 2004) (observing that unsworn argument in a memorandum fails to constitute admissible evidence). Additionally, Strouse attached a host of correspondence to his memorandum which has little to no relevance to the issue of whether he exhausted his administrative remedies. In light of the foregoing principles and submissions, the facts set forth below are established for purposes of the Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. SUMMARY OF PERTINENT FACTS

A. Strouse's Conviction Of An Institutional Offense

"On June 26, 2012, Incident Report Number 2319891 was filed, charging Mr. Strouse with the Code 219A prohibited act of Attempted Stealing." (Coll. Decl. ¶ 8 (citations omitted).) On July 10, 2012, a DHO conducted a hearing on Incident Report Number 2319891. (Id. ¶ 11 (citation omitted).) The DHO found Strouse not guilty of Attempted Stealing, but found Strouse guilty of the institutional offense of Possession of Anything Not Authorized. (Id. (citation omitted); Coll Decl. Attach. 4, ECF No. 32-2, at 19 (as paginated by the Court's CM/ECF docketing system).) The DHO sanctioned Strouse by, inter alia, forfeiting fourteen (14) days of Strouse's Good Conduct Time. (Coll Decl. Attach. 4, ECF No. 32-2, at 20 (as paginated by the Court's CM/ECF docketing system).)

On September 12, 2012, the BOP provided Strouse with a copy of the DHO's Report for Incident Report Number 2319891 ...


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