United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.
The petition of Matthew Walters for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR XX-XX-XXXX. Mr. Walters' estimated projected release date is September 18, 2027. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Walters' habeas petition must be denied.
Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004), 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).
II. The Disciplinary Proceeding
Internal Affairs Investigator Duncan wrote a conduct report that charged Mr. Walters with class A offense 113, engaging in trafficking with anyone who is not an offender. The conduct report stated:
On June 24, 2013[, ] I[, ] Herbert Duncan IA03[, ] was reviewing the audio recordings of the visit between offender Walters, Matthew #922451 and his visitor. During the recording the offender asked her if she had the item and then instructed her where to place the item and what story to give staff if asked why she was up in that area. See Confidential case file 13-ISR-0027 for more information and recording.
On July 16, 2013, Mr. Walters was notified of the charge when he was served with the conduct report and the screening report. Mr. Walters was notified of his rights. He pled not guilty and he requested the appointment of a lay advocate. Mr. Walters did not request any witnesses, but did request the "[h]earing officer to review case file 13-ISR-0027 and to listen to the recording." On July 16, 2013, the hearing officer documented that she had reviewed the confidential case file and the audio recording, "but since it is in the confidential case file, Ofd. is not allowed to listen to it."
On July 22, 2013, the hearing officer conducted the prison disciplinary hearing and found Mr. Walters guilty of Class A offense 113, engaging in trafficking. The sanctions recommended and approved were an earned credit time loss of 180 days, a suspended sanction of 6 months in disciplinary segregation, and a written reprimand. The hearing officer imposed the sanctions because of the serious nature of the offense and the degree to which the violation disrupted and endangered the security of the facility. In making this determination, the hearing officer relied on staff reports, the confidential case file 13-ISR-0027, an audio recording, report of investigation, and Mr. Walters' statement at the hearing, "Where is the item, ' He is just talking, ' She was putting up a book, that's all, ' and The detail was the one talking.'"
Mr. Walters' appeals through the administrative process were denied. He now seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 arguing that his due process rights were denied.
Mr. Walters asserts the following claims: 1) the conduct report should be dismissed because it had the wrong dates on it; 2) there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty; and 3) the hearing officer was not impartial because she failed to provide Mr. Walters evidence that he requested.
Mr. Walters' first two claims challenge the sufficiency of the evidence. He asserts that there was not enough evidence to find him guilty because he contends that the date and time of incident listed on the conduct report was July 24, 2013, but the visitation incident allegedly occurred on June 21, 2013. The date of incident listed on the conduct report is actually June 24, 2013, not July 24, 2013. That is the date, however, that the Internal Affairs officer listened to the audio recording of the visit between Mr. Walters and his visitor. The visit at issue occurred on June 21, 2013. There was no error with respect to dates on the conduct report.
Mr. Walters next argues that he could not have engaged in trafficking with his visitor, Tonya Gordon, because he was restricted to non-contact visits and Tonya Gordon could not have handed him anything. He contends that he did not have any agreement with Ms. Gordon and therefore he could not have engaged in trafficking with her. This argument is frivolous. The conduct report states that during his visitation conversation with Ms. Gordon on June 21, 2013, Mr. Walters asked her if she had the ...