This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).







State of Minnesota,


Michael Williams,


Filed December 11, 2001


Crippen, Judge



Washington County District Court

File No. C1003778



Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Jennifer K. Park, Assistant Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street #1100, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for respondent)


Michael Williams, 190665, MCF-STW, 970 Pickett Street North, Bayport, MN 55003 (pro se appellant)


            Considered and decided by Shumaker, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Schumacher, Judge.


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant challenges the denial of his request for habeas corpus relief regarding the segregation penalties imposed by prison officials in the course of two disciplinary proceedings.[1]  Because appellant failed to show that officials acted unlawfully, we affirm.


While serving a sentence for kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct, appellant was disciplined twice by prison officials for violating prison policies.  He was first disciplined for making threatening comments to a sergeant during a routine move.  The second incident arose from a personal letter he wrote to a tort claims investigator at the state attorney general’s office.  Appellant was found guilty of violating prison disciplinary rules in both incidents and sentenced to segregation for each violation. 

Appellant filed a petition for postconviction relief.  The postconviction court dismissed appellant’s petition with prejudice, finding that the hearings complied with due process requirements and that there was sufficient evidence to support the hearing officers’ decisions.  This appealed followed, which we construed as an appeal from an order denying habeas corpus relief. 



Appellate courts give great weight to the trial court’s findings in considering a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and will uphold the findings if they are reasonably supported by the evidence.  Northwest v. LaFleur, 583 N.W.2d 589, 591 (Minn. App. 1998), review denied (Minn. Nov. 17, 1998).

Appellant argues that he was improperly disciplined for the first incident because there was insufficient evidence to show that his comments constituted threats in violation of prison policies.  An inmate is entitled to due process of law, and before prison authorities can deprive him of a protected liberty interest they must provide an appropriate level of due process.  Goff v. Dailey, 991 F.2d 1437, 1440 (8th Cir. 1993) (citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 555-58, 94 S. Ct. 2963, 2974-75 (1974).  The Supreme Court has held that, with regard to inmates, due process is satisfied “if some evidence supports the decision by the prison disciplinary board,” and this standard can be met if “there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion” reached by the board.  Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455-56, 105 S. Ct. 2768, 2774 (1985) (quotations omitted).  The disciplinary hearing officer found that the officer’s testimony and incident report showed that appellant repeatedly made threatening comments about the sergeant’s wife.  Appellant presented no evidence, testimony, or witnesses at his disciplinary hearing.  The record makes it evident that the postconviction court did not err in determining there was sufficient evidence for the hearing officer to find that appellant made threatening comments.

Appellant also contends that his procedural due process rights were violated at the prison disciplinary hearing.  Inmates are entitled to the following procedural requirements in a disciplinary hearing: (1) written notice of the claimed violation at least 24 hours before the hearing; (2) an opportunity to present documentary evidence and call witnesses if it will not jeopardize institutional safety or correctional goals; and (3) a written statement from an impartial decision maker explaining the evidence and reasoning relied upon for the disciplinary action.  Hrbek v. Nix, 12 F.3d 777, 780 (8th Cir. 1993) (citing Wolff, 418 U.S. at 563-67, 94 S. Ct. at 2978-80).  The record shows that appellant received written notice of the violations, had an opportunity to present witnesses, and received a written decision from the hearing officer.  The postconviction court properly found that appellant’s due process rights were not violated.


            Appellant claims that he was improperly disciplined for writing a letter to a tort claims investigator.  Appellant argues that the discipline violated his First Amendment right to petition the government without retaliation and that his privacy rights were violated when prison officials read a letter marked “legal” mail on the envelope. 

The record shows that although the letter was marked “legal” on the envelope, appellant stated in the opening line that it was personal.  The letter contained inappropriate sexual comments that the tort claims investigator found offensive.  The record contains no evidence that this letter was seized by the prison in violation of its policies.  Rather, the record supports respondent’s contention that prison officials first saw the letter when the tort claims investigator returned it to the prison, informing them of its offensive content.  The postconviction court did not abuse its discretion by dismissing appellant’s petition for postconviction relief from the discipline imposed.


            On appeal, appellant raises additional assertions for the first time with respect to his right to seek habeas corpus relief.  Appellant claims that (1) his rights to petition the government for redress of grievances were violated when he was disciplined for writing a grievance containing false statements; (2) he was discouraged by Washington County Court administrators in a different matter from pursuing his complaint for damages and injunctive relief against prison officials; (3) he was discouraged by the Washington County Court administrators from pursuing his request for a removal/appeal of Williams v. Bruton, et al., Washington County Conciliation Court File No. SX-00-667; and (4) he was discouraged in this case by respondent when a subpoena was served on him in front of the entire prison.  None of these issues was presented to the postconviction court; as a result, they can not be considered on appeal.  See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582 (Minn. 1988) (holding that this court may consider only those issues the record shows were presented to and considered by the trial court).





[1]  Appellant has not disputed to the trial court or to this court the penalties imposed at a third disciplinary hearing on December 28, 1999.