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Blackwell v. Superintendent, Plainfield Correctional Facility

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

February 10, 2015

SUPERINTENDENT, Plainfield Correctional Facility, Respondent.



The petition of Damon Blackwell ("Mr. Blackwell") 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. Blackwell'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).

II. The Disciplinary Proceeding

On February 5, 2013, Officer S. Puckett wrote a Report of Conduct in case IYC XX-XX-XXXX charging Mr. Blackwell with possession of an electronic device. The Report of Conduct states:

On 1/29/2013 I, S. Puckett was assigned to look into a cell phone that was confiscated and unlocked by this office. Several phone numbers were retrieved that matched offenders phone lists at this facility. See report of Investigation.

The Report of Investigation states:

On 1/29/2013 I was assigned to investigate a confiscated contraband locked cell phone that was taken out of HUC N Unit. This office was able to unlock this cell phone and were able to cross reference the numbers from OIS and the offender phone system database. Several Offenders including the named offender above were linked to this cell phone from the contacts on their offender phone list that they submitted to have there (sic) phone turned on.

On February 7, 2013, Mr. Blackwell was notified of the charge of possession of an electronic device and served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing "Screening Report." Mr. Blackwell was notified of his rights, pled not guilty and requested the appointment of a lay advocate. He requested a witness, offender Wheeler, and requested that he be able to view numbers on the call log and his phone list.

The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in IYC XX-XX-XXXX on February 26, 2013, and found Mr. Blackwell guilty of the charge of possession of an electronic device. In making this determination, the hearing officer considered the staff reports and the offender statements. At the hearing, Mr. Blackwell stated: "I have not got to see the number. I did not use that phone. I did and do not live in Centrol. I have asked and everyone else knows there (sic) number that links them to the phone. In June 2012 I had a phone. I pled guilty. This is not me." The hearing officer recommended and approved the following sanctions: a 60 day deprivation of earned credit time and a suspended demotion from credit class I to credit class II. The sanctions were imposed because of the likelihood that they would have a corrective effect on Mr. Blackwell's future behavior. Mr. Blackwell's appeals through the administrative process were denied. He now seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254, arguing that his due process rights were violated.

III. Analysis

Mr. Blackwell brings a single claim for habeas relief which the Court has divided into two: 1) he was denied the evidence he requested; and 2) there was insufficient evidence to support his Conviction for possession of an electronic device.[1]

Mr. Blackwell first argues that he was not allowed to view the mobile telephone's call log or his list of approved telephone numbers. He argues that the hearing officer did not produce the physical evidence that he had requested at screening and that the hearing report does not reflect that the hearing officer reviewed that evidence. It is undisputed that Mr. Blackwell wanted to have the following evidence considered: the numbers on the call log and the numbers on his telephone list. The hearing officer reviewed "staff reports, " which included the conduct report and the Report of Investigation. The list of telephone numbers that the facility had approved for Mr. Blackwell, printed on February 15, 2013, before the hearing, was also ...

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