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Mitchell v. Smith

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

July 8, 2015

WILLIAM MITCHELL, Petitioner,
v.
BRIAN SMITH, Respondent.

ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

The petition of William Mitchell 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. Mitchell'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 February 20, 2014, Lieutenant G. Roach wrote a Report of Conduct in case IYC XX-XX-XXXX charging Mr. Mitchell with assisting or conspiring to commit assault. The Report of Conduct states:

On 2-19-14 I, Lt. G. Roach, was made aware of a potential assault that had happened on 2-18-14 in F-Unit Bed area. While viewing the cameras for 2-18-14 at approximately 5:37pm did observe two offenders holding on to an offender and another offender swinging a sock that appeared to contain a heavy object. The situation moved up and down the aisle with the one offender swinging the sock several times before the situation broke up. Sgt. T Hunter, Ofc. A. Riddell, and Ofc. J. Jellison who work South Dorm regularly were called to the Shift Office to identify the individuals on camera. All three staff members confirmed the identity of one of the two offenders holding the assaulted offender as Mitchell, William #208484. They also identified the recipient of this beating as Offender Williams, Brandon #121135. Offender Mitchell assisted in holding Offender Williams while the offender with the sock continually swung at Offender Williams. Offender Williams had been sent out on 2-18-14 to Hendrick's County Hospital Emergency Room receiving several staples to the head and was placed in HSU for observation due to severe strikes to the head.

On February 25, 2014, Mr. Mitchell was notified of the charge of assisting or conspiring to commit assault and served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing "Screening Report." Mr. Mitchell was notified of his rights, pled not guilty and requested the appointment of a lay advocate. He requested two witnesses, Offenders Gates and Rivard, and he requested video surveillance of the event as physical evidence.

The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in IYC XX-XX-XXXX on March 6, 2014, and found Mr. Mitchell guilty of the charge of assisting in battery. In making this determination, the hearing officer considered the offender's statements, staff reports, evidence from witnesses, and photographic and video evidence. The hearing officer recommended and approved the following sanctions: a suspended 180 day disciplinary segregation, medical restitution of $500, a 360 day deprivation of earned credit time, and a demotion from credit class I to credit class III. Mr. Mitchell's appeals were denied and he filed the instant petition for habeas corpus relief.

C. Analysis

Mr. Mitchell challenges his disciplinary conviction arguing that 1) he was improperly denied a written detailed summary of the video as evidence and 2) his conviction was not supported by a preponderance of the evidence.

1. Video Summary

Mr. Mitchell argues that he was denied a written summary of the video as evidence and because that evidence was not presented, he was denied the ...


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