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Doss v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

April 17, 2014

REGINALD DOSS, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN, Superintendent, Respondent.

ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

The petition of Reginald Doss for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVD XX-XX-XXXX. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Doss's habeas petition must be denied.

Discussion

A. Standard

Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004) (per curiam), or of credit-earning class, Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641, 644-45 (7th Cir. 2001), without due process. The due process requirement is satisfied with the issuance of advance written notice of the charges, a limited opportunity to present evidence to an impartial decision maker, a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the evidence justifying it, and "some evidence in the record" to support the finding of guilt. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570-71 (1974); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003).

B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

On July 11, 2012, Officer S. Myers wrote a Report of Conduct in case WVD XX-XX-XXXX charging Doss with possession of a controlled substance. The Report of Conduct states:

On 07/11/2012 at approximately 11:05 AM, I C/O S. Myers conducted a shakedown of cell #315 in LHU. Offender Reginald Doss DOC #881180 and offender Dortese Dixon DOC #972685 are assigned to cell #315 in LHU. Both offenders were absent from cell #315, I C/O S. Myers was doing walk through inspections of random bottom large cells. As I searched cell #315 in LHU I found a white powder substance inside a[n] unmarked white bottle sitting on the right shelf in cell #315 on bottom. The unknown powder was taken to Internal Affairs by myself. Internal Affairs administered drug tests, the substance tested positive for Opium Alkaloid weighing 26.7 grams. Offender Doss admitted the right cell shelf was his where the substance was found. Offender Dixon said he wasn't going to say a word to whom [the] substance belonged to.
Doss received notice of the charge on July 16, 2012, when he was provided a copy of the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (screening report). Doss was notified of his rights. He pled not guilty and did not request any witnesses. Doss requested that the substance be sent to an outside lab for testing, but this request was denied due to the length of time for test results to be returned and the cost. Doss waived his right to twenty-four-hour prior notice of the hearing.

On July 18, 2012, a hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing and found Doss guilty of the charge. The hearing officer considered staff reports, Doss's statement, and physical evidence including the confiscation report and field test results. Based on the hearing officer's recommendations, the following sanctions were approved: a written reprimand, a one-month loss of telephone privileges, three months of disciplinary segregation, a ninety (90) day deprivation of earned credit time and a demotion from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 2 which was suspended. The hearing officer imposed the sanctions because of the seriousness and nature of the offense, the degree to which the offense endangered the security of the facility, and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on the offender's future behavior.

Doss appealed to the Facility Head on July 30, 2012. The Facility Head denied the appeal on September 5, 2012. Doss's appeal to the Final Reviewing Authority was denied on March 8, 2013.

C. Analysis

In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Doss argues that the evidence was insufficient to find him guilty because there was no evidence that the powder at issue was a controlled substance and that the denial of his request for outside lab testing violated his due process rights. Doss then argues in his reply in support of his petition for a writ of ...


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