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Barnett v. Knight

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

May 18, 2015

JAMES BARNETT Petitioner,
v.
STANLEY KNIGHT, Respondent.

ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

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

Discussion

A. Standard

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 Hearing

On November 26, 2013, Correctional Lieutenant B. Chalfin wrote a Report of Conduct in case ISF XX-XX-XXXX charging Barnett with Class A offense #102, Assault/Battery. The Conduct Report states:

On 11-26-13 I Lt. B. Chalfin reviewed the cameras in Dorm 14B Dayroom. On 11-26-13 at approximately 1807 hours I Lt. B. Chalfin observed offender James Barnett #930553 grab, choke, and hit another offender causing this other offender to receive an injury requiring stitches. Dorm 14N Officer Fervida assisted in identifying offender Barnett. He was placed in MSU pending this conduct report.

Also on November 26, 2013, Correctional Officer Fervida wrote a statement which reads as follows:

On 11/26/13 at approx. 1840 I C/O Fervida #206 observed the cameras with Lt. Chalfin over a fight in 14 North. I C/O Fervida [clearly] identified offender James Barnett DOC #930553 as one of the offenders in the fight.

On December 3, 2013, Barnett was notified of the charge of offense #102 and served with the conduct report and the notice of disciplinary hearing screening report. Barnett was notified of his rights and pled not guilty. Barnett did not request witness statements and requested the video as physical evidence.

On December 5, 2013, a hearing was held and the hearing officer found Barnett guilty of offense #102. In making the determination of guilt, the hearing officer considered staff reports, Barnett's statement, and picture and video evidence. Based on the hearing officer's recommendation the following sanctions were imposed: a written reprimand, one-hundred eighty (180) days of disciplinary segregation, a three-hundred sixty (360) day deprivation of earned credit time, and a demotion from credit class 1 to credit class 3. The hearing officer recommended the sanctions because of the seriousness and nature of the offense, and the degree to which the violation disrupted and endangered the security of the facility. Barnett's appeals were denied.

C. Analysis

In support of his claim for habeas relief, Barnett alleges that 1) the evidence was insufficient to support his disciplinary charge because there was no weapon involved in the fight and because the other offender involved in the fight was not sent to an outside hospital and 2) his due process rights were violated because the officers' reports of the incident ...


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