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Chandler v. Brown

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

October 8, 2014




The petition of Kevin Chandler for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVD-13-07-0114. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Chandler's habeas petition must be denied.

A. Standard of Review

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).

B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

On July 23, 2013, Officer M. Kolhouse of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility wrote a Report of Conduct in case number WVD-13-07-0114 ("conduct report") charging Chandler with possession of an electronic device. The conduct report states the following:

On 7/23/13 while conducting a targeted cell search of Q103, which houses offender Chandler, Kevin 138734, I c/o M. Kolhouse did locate what appeared to be a sim card from an ATT cell phone. The SIM card was located in a greeting card that was sitting on offender Chandler's sink.

A Notice of Confiscated Property, which was attached to the conduct report, contained a photograph of the SIM card.

On July 29, 2013, Chandler was notified of the charge of possession of an electronic device and served with the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report) ("screening report"). The screening report notified Chandler of his rights. Chandler pled not guilty and requested 24-hours' notice of his hearing. He requested a lay advocate but declined the right to call any witnesses. Chandler requested physical evidence in the form of "copies of grievance paperwork [he filed] on Officer Kolhouse; [and] copies of letters to Superintendent and Major regarding this." His hearing was to be held July 30, 2013, at the earliest. On July 31, 2013, Chandler was notified that he was required to provide facility officials with the case numbers for the grievance documents he was seeking. Based upon Chandler's request for grievance paperwork, his hearing was postponed until August 8, 2013, at the latest. On August 8, 2013, the hearing was postponed a second time at Chandler's request.

On August 13, 2013, a hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in Chandler's case. Officer Boroughs agreed to serve as Chandler's lay advocate. During the hearing, Chandler provided the following statement:

I didn't have anything. This officer and I have had problems in the past. I have told on him for skipping shower and for PREA case

At the conclusion of the proceeding, the hearing officer found Chandler guilty of the charge of possession of an electronic device. The hearing officer relied upon staff reports; Chandler's statement; the Notice of Confiscated Property form; and the SIM card itself. Chandler's request for evidence was denied by the hearing officer as "irrelevant to the conduct report." At the end of the hearing and based upon the hearing officer's recommendations, the following sanctions were imposed: a written reprimand; a one-month loss of commissary privileges; and a 60-day deprivation of earned credit time. Chandler appealed the imposition of these sanctions to the head of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, and the appeal was denied on September 19, 2013. Chandler appealed to the final reviewing authority within the Indiana Department of Correction, which denied his appeal on October 1, 2013.

C. Chandler's Claims

Chandler provides three bases for his claim for habeas relief: 1) he was denied his right to due process because he "was suppose[ed] to receive [his] sanction and rest of [his] information to this case in the mail"; 2) prison officials committed a procedural error and violated due process when evidence Chandler requested during his screening was not admitted; and 3) "[m]ore officers [were] shaking [his] ...

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