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Messer v. Superintedent

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

October 17, 2014


Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus


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

I. Overview

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

On December 9, 2013, Officer Dewitt wrote a Report of Conduct in case IYC XX-XX-XXXX charging Mr. Messer with rioting. The Report of Conduct states:

On 12-9-13 at approximately 4:50 PM I, Sergeant T. DeWitt, was called by the officer working the South Dining Entrance. When I arrived, the line of offenders from South Dorm had overrun the officer at the entrance. I immediately began ordering all offenders to walk back around the walk in an attempt to regain control of the chow line. Most offenders began to comply with the order. Offender Messer, Archie 181835 refused the order and began protesting loudly which caused a large number of offenders to ignore the order to walk around. I ordered offender Messer to turn around to be placed in restraints, he immediately complied. Once restrained offender Messer began yelling "Stand your ground! Stand your ground! They can't lock us all up!" I immediately began escorting offender Messer away from the situation and up to HSU. As soon as offender Messer was removed from the area, all offenders complied with all orders and order was restored to the chow line.

In addition to the Report of Conduct, Correctional Officer K. Gray, wrote the following statement:

On 12-9-13 at approximately 16:50 I, OFC K. Gray, was posted at the south side entrance to the offender dining hall. South had entered the line, approximately 150 offenders. The offenders were attempting to crowd past me, and would not return to the walk. After ordering them to reform the line, to no avail, I called walk staff. The offenders were ordered to go around the Rec Building at (sic) get back in line. Sgt. Dewitt began ordering South to "take a lap." Grumbling, most complied. As I was going down the line, OFFENDER MESSER 181835 stated "he was not moving". There were 3 or 4 offenders with OFN Messer. Sgt. Dewitt again ordered OFN Messer to "Go around or Go back to HOS." Messer stated that he would not. Sgt. Dewitt then told Messer to turn around and cuff up. OFN Messer complied. As Sgt. Dewitt was placing wrist restraints, Messer start[ed] yelling to the offenders that were order[ly] to "stand your ground."

Officer B. Owens also provided a written statement:

On December 9, 2013 at approximately 4:45 P.M. I received a call on the radio from Officer Grey to come to the south side dining entrance. When I arrived I could see that the offenders at the entrance had rushed Officer Grey. In an attempt to regain control of the line all of the offenders were sent around the recreation building. Once the offenders had started to leave the line and start to walk around offender Messer, Archie (181835) stated that he was not moving. He said "I'm not going anywhere; I've been waiting in line." He was told that everyone was walking around and not only a select few. Again, he refused stating "I'm not fucking going anywhere, fuck that!" At this point in time Sergeant DeWitt intervened and I moved to the back of the line. I could see that Sergeant DeWitt and offender Messer were talking but I could not hear what was being said.

On December 11, 2013, Mr. Messer was notified of the charge of rioting and served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing "Screening Report". Mr. Messer was notified of his rights, pled not guilty and requested the appointment of a lay advocate. He requested three witnesses, Offenders Covington, Adams, and Baker, but did not request any physical evidence.

The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in IYC XX-XX-XXXX on December 14, 2013, and found Mr. Messer guilty of the charge of rioting. In making this determination, the hearing officer considered Mr. Messer's statement at the hearing and his hand written statement, staff reports, and evidence from witnesses. The hearing officer imposed the following sanctions: transfer to a more secure facility, a 45 day loss of phone privileges (suspended), 360 days in disciplinary segregation, a 190 day earned credit time deprivation, and a demotion from credit class I to credit class III. The sanctions were imposed because of the seriousness and nature of the offense, Mr. Messer's attitude and demeanor during the hearing, and the degree to which the violation disrupted and endangered the security of the facility.

Mr. Messer's appeals through the administrative process were denied. The Facility Head modified the offense to include 111 A Conspiracy/Attempting/Aiding or Abetting. Mr. Messer appealed again and the second appeal was also denied. He now seeks relief pursuant to ...

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