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Slavick v. Harrington

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

August 20, 2018

CHRIS SLAVICK, #A0765881, Petitioner,
v.
SCOTT HARRINGTON, Respondent.

          ORDER (1) DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS; (2) DENYING IN FORMA PAUPERIS APPLICATION; AND (3) DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          J. MICHAEL SEABRIGHT CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is pro se prisoner Chris Slavick's Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus (“Habeas Petition”) and Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis by a Prisoner (“IFP Application”). ECF Nos. 1, 2. Slavick is incarcerated at the Halawa Correctional Facility (“HCF”) and challenges two disciplinary charges that resulted in his detention for several weeks in segregation and allegedly may result in a reclassification of his custody status.

         For the following reasons, the Court DISMISSES the Habeas Petition, DENIES the IFP application, and DENIES any request for certificate of appealability.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Slavick was recently found guilty of two prison disciplinary charges in Nos. 18-0130 and 18-0164, based on allegedly “false accusations.” Pet., ECF No. 1, PageID #1. He grieved both charges to the second step of the prison's three-step grievance procedure, but admits that he did not exhaust his administrative remedies after he received no response to either step two grievance. Instead, Slavick brought his claims directly to this court. Slavick provides no details regarding the two allegedly false disciplinary charges, such as who falsely accused him, what the bases for these charges were, and when this happened. Rather, he confines his challenge to the alleged denial of due process for prison officials' alleged failure to hold a hearing on May 18 and June 8, 2018, respectively, for the two charges. Slavick was sanctioned to fifteen and forty-four days sanctions for the charges.

         Slavick seeks an Order directing prison officials to retract the two disciplinary charges and restore his classification status to zero “points/community status, ” which he alleges qualifies him for work furlough status. Id., PageID #9.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court may entertain a petition for writ of habeas corpus from a person claiming to be “in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2241(c)(3). A district court considering an application for a writ of habeas corpus shall “award the writ or issue an order directing the respondent to show cause why the writ should not be granted, unless it appears from the application that the applicant or person detained is not entitled thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2243.

         Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (the “Habeas Rules”) applies to habeas petitions brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241[1] and requires summary dismissal of a habeas petition if “it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court.”

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Federal law opens two main avenues to relief on complaints related to imprisonment: a petition for habeas corpus and a civil rights complaint. See Muhammad v. Close, 540 U.S. 749, 750 (2004). “[H]abeas is the exclusive vehicle for claims brought by state prisoners that fall within the core of habeas corpus, and such claims may not be brought in a § 1983 [civil rights] action.” Nettles v. Grounds, 830 F.3d 922, 927 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc). Nettles sets forth “the correlative rule that a § 1983 action is the exclusive vehicle for claims brought by state prisoners that are not within the core of habeas corpus.” Id. That is, claims challenging “the fact or duration of the conviction or sentence” are within the core of habeas, while claims challenging “any other aspect of prison life” are properly brought as civil rights actions. Id. at 934.

         The petitioner in Nettles brought a claim similar to Slavick's: Nettles challenged disciplinary proceedings on constitutional grounds arguing that “his claims affect the duration of his sentence because if he succeeded in expunging his 2008 rules violation report, the [Parole] Board would more likely set his next parole hearing at an earlier date . . . and would be more likely to give him a favorable parole ruling.” Id. at 934. Nettles concluded that the petition therein did not fall within the “core” of habeas “[b]ecause success on Nettles's claims would not necessarily lead to his immediate or earlier release from confinement, ” since the parole board would consider other factors than merely the rules violation. Id. at 935.

         Slavick does not assert that he will be entitled to parole if his disciplinary charges are expunged. Rather, he suggests that his classification status, which may be increased based on the disciplinary violations (but apparently has not been increased yet), would likely be reduced if the charges were expunged. He speculates that this might entitle him to be considered for a work furlough program. Slavick's argument is unavailing. As in Nettles, success here “would not necessarily lead to immediate or speedier release because the expungement of the challenged disciplinary violation[s] would not necessarily lead to” Slavick's release on parole or to a work furlough program. Id. at 934-35 (“A rules violation is merely one of the factors shedding light on whether a prisoner . . .” is suitable for parole.); see also Ramirez v. Galaza, 334 F.3d 850, 859 (9th Cir. 2003) (stating, “if successful, ...


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