United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge.
Ivan Leon,  an inmate at the United States
Penitentiary in Lee County, Virginia (USP Lee), filed this 28
U.S.C. § 2241 motion, challenging a disciplinary
decision in which a Discipline Hearing Officer (DHO) required
Leon to forfeit 360 days of non-vested good-conduct time and
pay a monetary fine. As part of his petition, Leon argues
that the “aggressive” sanctions were imposed as a
result of discriminatory practices based on his religion and
in violation of his right to equal protection under the Fifth
Amendment. Because the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has since
modified the sanction to exclude the forfeiture of non-vested
good-conduct time, the court finds that Leon’s action
under § 2241 is now moot and, therefore, will grant
respondent’s motion to dismiss. In addition, the court
denies relief for any standalone equal-protection violation
or challenge to any monetary fine imposed by the BOP, as
§ 2241 does not permit a remedy for either.
February 10, 2014, while at the Federal Correctional
Institution in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, Leon was charged
with fighting a fellow inmate and possessing a weapon. (Pet.
2, Dkt. No. 1.) After a disciplinary hearing, the DHO
sanctioned Leon with a total of 60 days of segregation,
disallowance of 68 days of good-conduct time, loss of phone
and visitation privileges for 8 months, forfeiture of 360
days of non-vested good-conduct time, and a $100 fine.
(Id.) Leon alleges that he timely filed appeals to
the Administrative Remedy Coordinator and the Central Office
of Administrative Remedy, both of which were denied.
(Id. at 3.) He further contends that he has waited
six months for a response to his latest appeal, but believes
the agency will not change its position. (Id. at
3-4.) In his petition, Leon challenges the forfeiture of the
360 days of non-vested good-conduct time as excessive and
discriminatory, and asks the court to waive the $100
response to Leon’s petition, respondent notes that the
“sanction of 360 days loss of forfeited non-vested good
conduct time . . . has been removed.” (Resp. 2, Dkt.
No. 6.) To support this assertion, respondent provides a
report from the prison’s SENTRY system, which contains
information about inmates’ statuses, administrative
remedies, and disciplinary actions. (Ex. 1, Dkt. No. 6-1 at
1.) While the fine and other punishments remain on the
report, the non- vested good-conduct time does not appear on
the list of current sanctions. (Id. at 6.)
Accordingly, respondent asks the court to dismiss
Leon’s petition as moot.
III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal
courts to actual cases and controversies. “[A] federal
court has no authority ‘to give opinions upon moot
questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles
or rules of law which cannot affect the matter in issue in
the case before it.’” Church of Scientology
of Cal. v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 12 (1992) (quoting
Mills v. Green, 159 U.S. 651, 653 (1895)).
“Simply stated, 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 (1969).
“[O]ne such circumstance mooting a claim arises when
the claimant receives the relief he or she sought to obtain
through the claim.” Friedman’s, Inc. v.
Dunlap, 290 F.3d 191, 197 (4th Cir. 2002).
that Leon has received the relief he seeks with respect to
his loss of non-vested good-conduct time, the court must
dismiss his claim seeking that relief as moot.
further argues that the BOP violated his constitutional right
to equal protection. Unlike an action under Bivens v. Six
Unknown Named Agents of Fed. Bureau of Narcotics, 403
U.S. 388 (1971), which allows federal inmates to bring suit
against federal officers for constitutional violations, a
habeas corpus proceeding under § 2241 challenges only
the “fact or duration” of the prisoner’s
confinement. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 500
(1973), overruled on other grounds by Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 482 (1994). Typically,
“equal protection claims are not cognizable in habeas
proceedings, ” Owens v. Ziegler, No.
5:11-cv-0864, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124204, at *4 n.3 (S.D.
W.Va. Aug. 9, 2012); however, “[c]hallenging the
execution of [a] sentence based on a perceived constitutional
violation does not remove [the] claim from §
2241.” United States v. Little, 392 F.3d 671,
679 (4th Cir. 2004). Thus, a court may consider an
equal-protection violation during a habeas proceeding, but
only as it relates to the fact or duration of confinement.
court interprets Leon’s equal-protection argument as
evidence in support of his challenge to the duration of his
confinement, rather than as a standalone claim. But regardless of
the reason why the prison initially sanctioned him with the
forfeiture of the 360 days of non-vested good-conduct time,
it is undisputed that the BOP has already reinstated that
time. Thus, because he has already received the remedy he
seeks, the court will dismiss this claim as moot.
Leon also challenges the fine imposed by the prison as part
of his sanction. In so doing, he does not challenge the fact
or duration of his confinement under § 2241. As a
result, this claim is not properly brought as part of
Leon’s § 2241 petition. Preiser, 411 U.S.
reasons stated above, the court will grant respondent’s
motion and dismiss Leon’s petition. As noted in
footnote 4, though, Leon may file an amended petition if he
also sought to challenge in his petition the sanction