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Johnson v. Executive Director of Colorado Department of Corrections

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 8, 2016

SHANE EDWARD JOHNSON, Applicant,
v.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, and WARDEN OF LIMON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Respondents. No.

ORDER OF DISMISSAL

LEWIS T. BABCOCK, Senior Judge

Applicant, Shane Edward Johnson, is in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) at the Correctional Facility in Limon, Colorado. He initiated this action by filing an Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2241. (ECF No. 1). In the Application, Mr. Johnson asserted that he was deprived of due process in connection with an administrative segregation hearing, that his placement in administrative segregation for approximately four years violated due process, and that he was not allowed to accrue earned and good time credits while in administrative segregation, in violation of his due process and equal protection rights. For relief, he claimed an entitlement to withheld earned and good time credits, and requested an award of damages.

I. Procedural Background

On March 1, 2016, Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher issued an Order Directing Applicant to Cure Deficiencies. (ECF No. 3). Mr. Johnson was advised that constitutional claims challenging his placement in administrative segregation and the conditions of that confinement, for which he requested monetary relief, must be asserted in civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Standifer v. Ledezma, 653 F.3d 1276, 1280 (10th Cir. 2011). However, to the extent Mr. Johnson challenged the duration of his confinement, he may pursue habeas corpus relief. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 484 (1973) (“The essence of habeas corpus is an attack by a person in custody upon the legality of that custody, and . . . the traditional function of the writ is to secure release from illegal custody.”); see also Palma-Salazar v. Davis, 677 F.3d 1031, 1035 (10th Cir. 2012) (discussing distinction between habeas corpus claims pursuant to § 2241 and conditions of confinement claims raised in civil rights actions). Magistrate Judge Gallagher further advised Mr. Johnson in the March 1 Order that he could not pursue both civil rights claims and habeas corpus claims in the same action. The Court then entered the following orders:

[I]f Mr. Johnson intends to proceed in this action under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, he must submit, within thirty days from the date of this Order, an Amended Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 that does not include claims challenging the conditions of his confinement, and does not request monetary relief. If Mr. Johnson intends to also pursue conditions-of-confinement claims, he must file a Prisoner Complaint, in a separate proceeding. Alternatively, Mr. Johnson may choose to only pursue a conditions-of-confinement claim in the present action by filing a Prisoner Complaint within thirty days from the date of this Order. . . .
. . . [I]if Mr. Johnson intends to pursue claims under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in this action, he shall pay the $5.00 filing fee or submit a Prisoner’s Motion and Affidavit for Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, within thirty days from the date of this Order. Alternatively, if Mr. Johnson intends to pursue only conditions-of-confinement claims in this action, he shall pay the $400.00 filing fee or submit a properly supported Prisoner’s Motion and Affidavit for Leave to Proceed Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915.

(ECF No. 3 at 3-4).

Mr. Johnson paid a $5.00 filing fee on March 28, 2016. (ECF No. 4). On March 31, 2016, he filed an Amended Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (ECF No. 6), in which he again asserts a violation of his due process rights in conjunction with his placement and four-year confinement in administrative segregation. He further alleges that his confinement in administrative segregation “inevitably affected the duration of [his] sentence” because he was denied the ability to accrue earned and good time credits during that period, which affected his parole eligibility date. (Id. at 9-10). Mr. Johnson asserts that the denial of earned and good time credits violated his due process and equal protections rights. For relief, he requests that he be awarded with 12 days per month of earned time and 15 days per month of good time credits for the 52 months he was confined in administrative segregation.

I. Analysis

A. Conditions of Confinement Claims

Mr. Johnson’s Fourteenth Amendment due process claims challenging the decision to place him in administrative segregation and the conditions of his confinement in administrative segregation must be asserted in a civil rights action. See Boyce v. Ashcroft, 251 F.3d 911, 914 (10th Cir. 2001) (“Prisoners who raise constitutional challenges . . . to administrative segregation . . . must proceed under § 1983 . . . .”); Gee v. Murphy, No. 08-8088, 325 F. App’x 666, (10th Cir. April 27, 2009) (unpublished) (“Since, as explained above, Mr. Gee's petition challenges only administrative decisions affecting his day-to-day circumstances and prison privileges, then, under the facts presented here, § 1983, not § 2241, is the statute under which he must proceed.”). Accordingly, the conditions-of-confinement claims will be dismissed without prejudice so that Mr. Johnson may have the opportunity to pursue them in a separate civil rights proceeding under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

B. Habeas Claims

Mr. Johnson’s claim that he was denied the ability to accrue earned and good time credits during his four-year confinement in segregation, in violation of his due process and equal protection rights, is properly raised in a habeas corpus proceeding. See Kailey v. Ritter, No. 11-1372, 500 F. App’x 766, 769 (10th Cir. Oct. 24, 2012) (unpublished) (citing Preiser). However, the face of the Amended Application establishes that Applicant is not entitled to federal habeas relief.

“The Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause protects persons against deprivations of life, liberty, or property; and those who seek to invoke its procedural protection must establish that one of these interests is at stake.” Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005). A liberty interest may arise from the Constitution itself or it may arise from an expectation or interest created by state laws or policies. Id. The Constitution does not afford prisoners a right to be released on parole before the expiration of a valid sentence. See Greenholtz v. ...


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