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Van Meter v. Reteke

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

February 12, 2014

MICHAEL PAUL VAN METER, Plaintiff,
v.
CLAIR RETEKE, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JON E. DEGUILIO, District Judge.

After serving a term of imprisonment in the Indiana Department of Correction, Plaintiff Michael Paul Van Meter brought this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by detaining him for 31 days too long. Van Meter bases this claim on two alleged miscalculations of his sentence: one relating to how the calculation accounts for leap years, and the other relating to how many days of credit against his sentence he was entitled to have restored after having lost them for disciplinary violations. Van Meter named four employees of the Indiana Department of Correction as defendants in their individual and official capacities, and sought monetary damages and injunctive relief.

On a previous motion for summary judgment, the Court dismissed all of Van Meter's claims except for his claim for monetary damages against the Defendants in their individual capacities based on the calculation of his lost credit time. [DE 30]. The Defendants now request summary judgment on this remaining issue, [DE 33] arguing that no genuine issue of material fact exists with respect to whether Van Meter's sentence was calculated correctly. Defendants served Van Meter, a pro se plaintiff, with an appropriate notice of the motion against him, [DE 35] but he has not responded. For the reasons that follow, Defendants' second Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 33] is GRANTED.

II. BACKGROUND

This dispute centers around the correct method for computing the number of previously-deprived days of credit against an offender's sentence that must be given back to the offender once he meets the prison's criteria for re-earning lost credit. Offenders in the Indiana Department of Correction (the "Department") can earn credit against their sentences while incarcerated, but those credits can also be lost for disciplinary violations. [DE 27-7 p. 26-27]. This lost credit time can be restored in certain circumstances, however, pursuant to the Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders (the "Code"). [ Id. ] Unless the credit was lost for a violation of a federal, state, or local criminal law, or for a battery with a weapon or inflicting serious injury, it is eligible to be restored. [ Id. ] Once an offender meets certain conditions, including maintaining a clear conduct record for a period of one year, the offender may file a petition for restoration of the lost credit time. [ Id. ] The method of calculating the amount of time to be restored, as spelled-out in the Code, is as follows:

e. If the petition for restoration of earned credit time that has been deprived as a result of a disciplinary hearing is approved, the earned credit time shall be restored in the following manner:
(1) Approval of the first petition shall result in 25% of the original amount of the TOTAL lost earned credit time being restored;
(2) Approval of the second petition shall result in 25% of the original amount of the TOTAL lost earned credit time being restored; and,
(3) Approval of the third petition shall result in 25% of the original amount of the TOTAL lost earned credit time being restored.
(4) The maximum amount of credit time that can be restored is 75% of the credit time deprived for any eligible disciplinary action.
(5) Credit time shall be restored based upon the cumulative amount of eligible lost earned credit time.

[ Id. p. 27].

Van Meter was imprisoned in Indiana from 1992 to 2009 [DE 1 at 2]. During that time, he earned credit against his sentence, but also had portions of that credit revoked on several occasions. [Ex. 27-6]. On December 20, 1999, Van Meter was deprived of 160 days of credit as a result of a disciplinary violation, which raised his cumulative total of lost credit time to 530 days. [ Id. p. 5]. On May 10, 2004, however, he applied for and received his first restoration of lost credit time. [ Id. ] In accordance with the Code, 25% of Van Meter's total eligible lost credit time, or 134 days, was restored.[1] [ Id. ] Van Meter had additional amounts of credit time deprived subsequent to that first restoration, however. On May 12, 2005, Van Meter had 30 days of credit time deprived, along with another 60 days on May 24, 2005. [ Id. ] This brought his total to 620 days of credit time had been deprived, while 134 of those had already been restored. [ Id. ]

On July 24, 2006, having maintained a clear conduct record for over a year since his last disciplinary action, Van Meter again applied for and received a restoration of lost credit time. [ Id. ] The calculation of this restoration is the source of the dispute in this matter. Had Van Meter not lost any additional credit time after his first restoration, he would have had two restorations remaining, each of which would have been for 133 days (25% of his 530 total lost earned credit time). Upon losing additional amounts of credit time after his first restoration, though, the Department started the restoration process over. Thus, they calculated that he had a total amount of "restorable" credit time of 334 days (620 total days lost, multiplied by the 75% cap on restorable ...


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