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Roper v. Zatecky

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

July 7, 2015



LARRY J. McKINNEY, District Judge.

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


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, Investigator B. Eloiza wrote a Report of Conduct that charged Roper with class A offenses 111/113, conspiracy/attempting/aiding or abetting/trafficking. The Conduct Report states:

Offender Roper, Lawrence # 978911 provided a sufficient amount of information during recorded telephone calls made on the offender phone system which led to the trafficking incident on November 15th 2013 involving Offender Nelson, Ronald #973922. Offender Roper, Lawrence was interviewed on November 22, 2013 after being placed on "HPI" status. During the interview Offender Roper claimed the conversations leading to the trafficking incident were other circumstances not related to the facility. After a thorough examination of the recorded phone calls mentioned above, as well as the package intercepted on November 15th, 2013. I find there is sufficient evidence supporting that Offender Roper did aid and attempt to successfully traffic contraband into the facility on November 15th, 2013.

On December 3, 2013, Roper was notified of the charge of class A offenses 111/113, aiding or abetting/trafficking, when he was served with the Conduct Report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Roper was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He indicated that he wished to call Offender Nelson as a witness, and as physical evidence requested the audio recording of the calls. Another offender agreed to serve as a lay advocate. Offender Nelson provided the following as a written statement: "I Ronald Nelson wasn't trafficking on the 15th of Nov 2013. So how yall come up with trafficking, conspiracy/aiding or abetting can't be true".

The hearing officer listened to an audio of the recorded conversations, assisted by Investigator Eloiza. The hearing officer determined that, due to the safety and security of the facility. Roper would not be allowed to review the audio. The hearing officer summarized the audio recordings as follows:

DHO listened to audio recordings of calls with Mr. Eloiza of IA. Mr. Eloiza explained the use/meaning of the coded words in the conversations. In the first conversation it was noted the Ofd and his visitor were monitoring another female in the visiting room along with the Ofd. she was visiting. In the later phone conversation, the female tells the Ofd. about her being talked with and any involvement she or the Ofd had in the incident earlier in the day.

The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in ISR13-12-0015 on December 5, 2013. Roper's comment was as follows:

The audio wasn't no big discovery & everytime his visitor comes when mine does & mine gives her a ride but I don't know her. Me & my visitor talked & no pkg had been found & we never discussed any drugs & no code word could ever put me & Nelson together. There's no way IA can say I'm guilty. IA is conspiring to get me. No evidence links me & Nelson.

The hearing officer found Roper guilty of class A offenses 111/113, aiding, abetting/trafficking. The reason for the decision was that the conduct report was supported by the audio. In making this determination, the hearing officer considered staff reports, the statement of the offender, and the audio. The hearing officer recommended and approved sanctions including an earned credit time deprivation of 180 days and demotion from credit class 1 to credit class 2. The hearing officer imposed the sanctions due to the seriousness and frequency of the offense, the ...

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