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Johnson v. Brown

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

May 20, 2014

RICHARD KEITH JOHNSON, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN, Respondent.

ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

LARRY J. McKINNEY, District Judge.

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

Discussion

A. Overview

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); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).

B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

Johnson was charged with disorderly conduct in violation of prison rules. The conduct report stated:

On 7/13/12 at approximately 09:00 AM (sic) I Lt. C. Nicholson reviewed a video of A-West 1200 range. At approximately 08:51 A.M. Offender Aderibigbe, Lukomen #161002 is in the A-1200 range lower shower. Offender Aderibigbe places his hands through the cuff port and is exchanging blows with what appears to be clothing items with Offender Johnson, Richard # 926081 who also has his hands through his cuff port assaulting Aderibigbee (sic) with what appears to be clothing items.

See dkt. 13-1.

On July 17, 2012, Johnson was notified of the charge when he received the conduct report and the notice of disciplinary hearing (screening report). Johnson pled not guilty and declined a lay advocate. The screening report documents that Johnson requested Offender Newsome as a witness.

Offender Newsome provided a statement which said, "[o]n the date of this incident, I was [i]n the [i]ndoor [r]ecreation. I was talking to someone else on this range, through the door. I never seen Mr. Johnson do anything what so ever to any other prisoner." Dkt. 13-3.

Johnson also requested the video be reviewed because it would show that he "was defending myself." Dkt. 13-2. Johnson was not allowed to see the video itself because that would "jeopardize the security of the facility;" however, the hearing officer watched the video and provided a detailed written summary of what she observed on the video. Dkt. 13-4.

The disciplinary hearing was held on July 23, 2012. Johnson refused to attend and was found guilty of Class B offense #236 disorderly conduct. The sanctions recommended and approved were an earned credit-time deprivation of 60 days, a one month loss of telephone privileges and a written reprimand. These sanctions were imposed because of the serious nature of the offense and the likelihood the sanctions would have a corrective effect on the offender's future behavior. In making this determination, the hearing officer relied on the staff reports, the video summary and the ...


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