United States District Court, D. Colorado
OPINION AND ORDER ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
S. KRIEGER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Carlos Woods'
pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2241 (#13). The named
Respondent is Warden Jack Fox, but because this petition is
brought against him in his official capacity as Warden of the
United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum, in
Florence, Colorado, the Court will refer to the Respondent as
the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). The BOP's
Response is found at (#24). Mr. Woods'
Traverse is at (#25).
before the Court are Mr. Woods' Motion Requesting Pro
Bono Representation (#22) and Motion
for Discovery (#23), to neither of which has
the BOP filed a response.
Court exercises subject matter jurisdiction over this action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 1331.
Summary of Relevant Material Facts
Woods is currently in the custody of the United States Bureau
of Prisons (“BOP”) at the United States
Penitentiary (“USP”), Administrative Maximum, in
Florence, Colorado. However, his petition arises out of
disciplinary proceedings brought against him following an
altercation involving Mr. Woods while he was housed at the
USP in Pollock, Louisiana.
altercation occurred in the common area of the A3 Housing
Unit at USP Pollock. In brief summary, on February 28, 2016,
Mr. Woods and other USP Pollock inmates played a role in an
assault on another inmate, in the course of which the other
inmate and Officer Dustin Cain were stabbed with one or more
inmate-made weapons. Mr. Woods was initially charged with the
prohibited acts of assault on staff and
the charges could have resulted in criminal prosecution, the
investigative procedures customarily used at USP Pollock were
not employed. Notably, Officer Cain prepared no report of the
altercation. Instead, a Special Investigative Services
(“SIS”) investigator interviewed Officer Cain and
recorded notes of what Officer Cain said. In summary, these
notes reflect that Officer Cain observed one inmate
assaulting another, and that he intervened. While he
attempted to restrain the first inmate, four other inmates,
including Mr. Woods, entered the housing unit and piled onto
both Officer Cain and the inmate he was restraining with the
apparent intent of assaulting the inmate being restrained,
thereby sandwiching Officer Cain between them. Both Officer
Cain and the inmate beneath him were stabbed with one or more
inmate-made weapons during the ensuing melee.
“[B]eliev[ing]” that Mr. Woods had stabbed him,
Officer Cain ordered him to drop “his weapon” and
lie down on the ground. When Mr. Woods failed to comply,
Officer Cain forced Mr. Woods to the ground and recovered
“a weapon off of him.” Officer Cain suffered
multiple stab wounds to his hand and forearm, and avoided
more serious injury only because he was wearing a
stab-resistant vest. Mr. Woods also received injuries to his
face and head.
altercation was recorded on the prison's VICONET video
system. An SIS investigator viewed and summarized the video
record and prepared an incident report (the “original
incident report”) based primarily on that summary and
on the notes recorded from Officer Cain's interview. The
original incident report charged Mr. Woods with the
prohibited acts of “Assault on Staff” and
referred the matter to the FBI, which elected not to bring
criminal charges. The original incident report was then
submitted to the Unit Disciplinary Committee
(“UDC”) with a copy provided to Mr. Woods. The
UDC determined that disciplinary proceedings were warranted,
and Mr. Woods requested both that the VICONET video record of
the altercation be reviewed and that certain inmate
witnesses be called to testify at his disciplinary
hearing. The UDC referred the matter to a Discipline Hearing
directed SIS to rewrite the incident report to include a more
detailed description of “the weapon” allegedly
recovered from Mr. Woods. In response, a third SIS
investigator reviewed the VICONET video record and rewrote
the incident report as directed by the DHO (the
“revised incident report”). The revised
incident report charged Mr. Woods with the prohibited acts of
“Assaulting Any Person, Serious Bodily Injury”
and “Possession of a Weapon.” The revised
incident report was submitted to the UDC with a copy provided
to Mr. Woods.
once again referred the charges to the DHO. Mr. Woods
requested that he be assisted by a staff representative at
the DHO hearing and iterated his previous requests that the
video record be viewed and that Willie Mitchell and all
inmates housed in the A3 Housing Unit be called as witnesses.
Woods' disciplinary hearing occurred on July 20, 2016.
Mr. Woods' case manager appeared at the hearing as Mr.
Woods' staff representative. Mr. Woods stated that he had
no documentary evidence to present, and once again requested
that the video record be produced and reviewed and that his
selected inmate witnesses be called. The DHO did not review
the video record or produce it at the hearing, and did not
address Mr. Woods' request that it be reviewed either at
the hearing or in his subsequent report.
is a factual dispute as to whether Mr. Woods waived his right
to have witnesses testify at the hearing. He asserts that he
did not, but the DHO states that he advised Mr. Woods that
potential witness Willie Mitchell had been transferred to
another institution and was unavailable to appear, and that
he gave Mr. Woods the option of either waiving his right to
call Mr. Mitchell or deferring the hearing to obtain Mr.
Mitchell's written statement. The DHO further testifies
that when presented with those options, Mr. Woods declined to
postpone the hearing and instead waived his right to call Mr.
Mitchell. As to the A3 Housing Unit inmates, the DHO
testifies that he offered Mr. Woods the opportunity to call
at most two of those inmates, whereupon Mr. Woods orally
waived his right to call any witnesses, but refused to sign a
document so stating. The DHO signed a statement that Mr.
Woods had waived his right to call any witnesses, which was
witnessed by Mr. Woods' case manager.
discussed above, it is undisputed that Mr. Woods was never
permitted to review the VICONET video record of the
altercation, and that at the hearing the DHO did not consider
it. It is also undisputed that Mr. Woods called no witnesses
on his behalf. The only evidence pertinent to the charges at
issue that the DHO considered at the hearing were the
incident reports prepared by SIS investigators on the basis
of those investigators' summaries of the video record and
another investigator's notes of his interview of Officer
Cain, and Mr. Woods' oral testimony that he
“didn't do it” and “didn't have a
knife.” The DHO determined on the basis of that
evidence that Mr. Woods assaulted a person and possessed a
weapon. After making that determination, the DHO prepared a
report (the “DHO report”) stating the grounds for
his decision and the evidence upon which he relied (#24-4), a
copy of which he provided to Mr. Woods.
Pollock disciplinary board sanctioned Mr. Woods with the loss
of 41 days of good conduct time, forfeiture of 41 days of
non-vested good time, 30 days disciplinary segregation, and a
period of lost commissary, email, and visiting privileges.
the petition now before the court, Mr. Woods contends that
his due process rights were violated in that (i) his staff
representative failed to provide him with adequate assistance
in connection with the disciplinary hearing, (ii) there was
unusual delay in Mr. Woods' receipt of the original
incident report and the original report was modified after
having been provided to Mr. Woods, (iii) the DHO was not
impartial, and (iv) Mr. Woods was not permitted to present
the video record or to present the witness testimony he
requested. Mr. Woods seeks an order expunging the incident