United States District Court, D. Minnesota
DOUGLAS EARL LEITER, also known as William Jackson, Petitioner,
CHRISTOPHER NICKRENZ, Warden, FPC-Duluth, Respondent.
N. ERICKSEN United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) issued by the Honorable Becky R.
Thorson, United States Magistrate Judge, on October 26, 2016.
(Docket No. 30.) The R&R recommends, among other things,
that Petitioner Douglas Earl Leiter's petition for a writ
of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (the
“Petition”) and request for injunctive relief
(Dkt. No. 1) be denied. Leiter objected to the R&R on
several grounds. (See Dkt. No. 31.)
Respondents responded to Leiter's objections by
stating their support for the R&R's recommended
disposition. (See Dkt. No. 33.)
Court has conducted a de novo review of the record.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3); D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). Based on that review, the
Court accepts the R&R's recommended disposition with
respect to substitution of the named Respondents in this
matter, denial of the Petition, denial of injunctive relief,
and dismissal of the action with prejudice. The Court also
accepts the recommendation to unseal Docket Nos. 1, 13, 14,
and 15 (and their attachments), except with respect to
attachment 1 to Docket No. 1. The Court concurs in the
R&R's reasoning to the extent that this Order does
not address such reasoning.
objects to the R&R's finding that there was
sufficient evidence in the disciplinary record to support the
determination that he violated Federal Bureau of Prisons
Disciplinary Code 196(A), Attempted Use of the Mail for
Illegal Purposes. See 28 C.F.R. § 541.3, Table
1 (2011). He challenges the sanction he received-revocation
of 41 days of good-time credits-primarily on this ground.
(See Dkt. No. 31 at 5, 8.)
the disciplinary sanction imposed on an inmate is revocation
of good-time credits, due process requires, among other
things, that “the findings of the prison disciplinary
board are supported by some evidence in the record.”
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst., Walpole v. Hill,
472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985). The Court need not examine the
entire record, independently assess the credibility of
witnesses, or weigh evidence when reviewing a disciplinary
decision. Id. at 455. Instead, the requirements of
due process are satisfied if there is “any evidence in
the record” to support the decision. Id. at
R&R reasoned that some evidence supported Leiter's
sanction. Specifically, the R&R stated that Discipline
Hearing Officer (“DHO”) Kevin Nikes
“reviewed Petitioner's mailing and determined,
based on his correctional knowledge, that it was consistent
with the ideology and practices of the Sovereign
Citizens.” (Dkt. No. 30 at 7.) The R&R concluded
that this was enough evidence to uphold the discipline.
(See id.) Leiter argues, however, that DHO
Nikes's written discipline report did not list this
knowledge and experience as a basis for the disciplinary
decision, as required by Supreme Court precedent and the
Federal Bureau of Prisons's Inmate Discipline Program.
(See Dkt. No. 31 at 5, 8 (citing Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), Hill, 472 U.S.
445, and 28 C.F.R. § 541.8(h) (2011)).) Therefore,
Leiter argues, DHO Nikes's correctional knowledge and
experience cannot be some evidence in the record to
support the disciplinary decision. (See id.) Leiter
also points out that the words “Sovereign
Citizen” do not appear in the written report. (See
Nikes's written report did not list reliance on his
correctional knowledge and experience concerning Sovereign
Citizens as a reason for the disciplinary decision.
(See Dkt. No. 11-1 at 77-80.) Rather, DHO
Nikes's Declaration, filed in response to Leiter's
Petition, states that this reliance was a basis for the
decision. (See Dkt. No. 11 ¶¶ 15-19.) As
such, DHO Nikes's correctional knowledge and experience
are not explicitly part of the disciplinary record.
aside whether this knowledge and experience can constitute
“some evidence” despite not being in the
disciplinary record,  the Court finds that there is other
evidence in the record to support the decision. For example,
the correspondence Leiter attempted to send to Eric Thorson,
Office of the Inspector General, United States Treasury,
included a letter asserting that Thorson (or the Treasury
Department) was responsible for Leiter's debt per a
fiduciary relationship Leiter created by previously mailing
an Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) Form 56.
(See Dkt. No. 11-1 at 78-79.) The correspondence
also included a copy of the Form 56,  in addition to a bill from a
debt collection agency. (See id.) DHO Nikes reviewed
these and other documents submitted by Leiter, which Leiter
has also filed with the Court. (See Id. at 79;
see also Dkt. No. 1-1 at 69-75, 77, 81.) Leiter
contends that the documents he submitted to DHO Nikes and the
Court prove the existence of the fiduciary relationship and
exonerate him. (See Dkt. No. 31 at 2, 10.)
Court need not review and weigh all the evidence in the
record, though; the disciplinary decision need only be
supported by some evidence in the record. Hill, 472
U.S. at 455. The content of the letter to Thorson and
enclosed Form 56 are evidence to support DHO Nikes's
conclusion that Leiter “used the mail in an attempt to
make Eric Thorson, or his office, the United States Treasury
responsible for [Leiter's] debts.” (Dkt. No. 11-1
at 80.) Therefore, the disciplinary decision was supported by
Leiter's objections, he stated that a hearing for the
gathering of witness testimony would aid his Petition in
multiple ways and that the Court should dismiss the R&R
and “move to an evidentiary hearing.” (Dkt. No.
31 at 4, 11-12.) The R&R did not address whether an
evidentiary hearing is required or should be held. In
response to the Petition, Respondents argued that a hearing
is not required because the issues can be resolved on the
record alone. (See Dkt. No. 10 at 19-20.)
petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing if the
petitioner's allegations are frivolous, where the
allegations (even if true) fail to state a cognizable
constitutional claim, where the relevant facts are not in
dispute, or where the dispute can be resolved on the basis of
the record. Wallace v. Lockhart, 701 F.2d 719,
729-30 (8th Cir. 1983).
as Leiter requests the Court to hold an evidentiary hearing,
the Court finds that none is required because the dispute can
be resolved on the basis of the record. As explained above,
the evidence in the record pertaining to the correspondence
at issue is sufficient to show that DHO Nikes's decision
was supported by some evidence. See supra Part I.
Therefore, there is no need for an evidentiary hearing on
that issue. See Riley v. Lockhart, 726 F.2d 421, 423
(8th Cir. 1984) (affirming denial of an evidentiary hearing
when the record was “sufficient to form the basis for
the district court's summary dismissal” of the
petition); Sweesy v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, No.
08-CV-323 (PAM/JJK), 2009 WL 1244047, at *1 (D. Minn. May 4,
2009) (finding an evidentiary hearing unnecessary when
evidence in the record was sufficient to meet the requirement
that some ...