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Gorman v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

August 24, 2016

ANDRE L. GORMAN, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          RUDY LOZANO, Judge

         This matter is before the Court on a Petition under 28 U.S.C. Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a person in State Custody Seeking Review of a Prison Disciplinary Sanction, filed by Andre L. Gorman, a pro se prisoner, on April 13, 2015 (DE #1). Here, Gorman challenges a disciplinary determination made by a hearing officer at the Westville Correctional Center (“Westville”) under case number WCC 14-11-0485. For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES the petition (DE #1). The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 24, 2014, Sgt. Johnson prepared a conduct report charging Gorman with assault. (DE #1 at 7.) The conduct report stated as follows:

Approx. 1245 p.m. Officer Collins-Dawson observed Hagerty, Jason R. #246438 with a bloody towel on his face. After investigation, I Sgt. Johnson found out Gorman #904846 struck Hagerty. On the way to the door to walk Gorman out of the holding cell, Gorman admitted he strucked [sic] Hagerty in his mother-fuckin I guest [sic] you got what you wanted. It's been your objective to get me moved you got what you want.

(Id.)

         In addition, the confidential case file was submitted under seal. (DE #14.) An incident report form was included in the file, which provides additional details. (Id. at 4.) It states that Officer Collins-Dawson saw Offender Hagerty holding a bloody towel on his face and she followed him into the bathroom where she saw a cut on his nose and a bruised right eye. (Id.) Sgt. Johnson observed Gorman trying to hide a blood-stained bandage that was wrapped around his hand. (Id.)

         On November 26, 2014, Gorman was notified of the charge. (DE #12-2.) The screening report reflects that he pled not guilty, requested a lay advocate, requested witnesses Nurse Cortelyou to validate his injuries, Ms. Sneed to validate his mental illness and Officer Miller to say that Gorman had injuries, and video evidence to show that Hagerty was the aggressor. (Id.)

         Offender DeWayne Barner acted as Gorman's lay advocate. Nurse Cortelyou provided a statement that confirmed Gorman had a hematoma on his forehead and had some hair pulled out. (DE #12-4.) Ms. Sneed stated that Gorman's diagnosed mental condition did not justify the incident. (DE #12-5.) Officer Miller stated that he did notice that Gorman had a bump on his head and hair pulled out following the altercation. (DE #12-6.) The hearing officer reviewed the video from the place and time noted on the incident report form and observed:

an altercation between the offenders in the hallway at 1:28 p.m. on 11/23/14. The offenders then go into an area that can not be observed on camera. Offender Hagerty comes back into view at 1:32 pm heading down the hallway towards the area out of camera view. Offender Gorman leaves with the officer at 1:38 pm heading towards the dayroom.

(DE #12-9.)

         On December 3, 2014, a hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing and found Gorman guilty of the charge of assault. (DE #12-10.) At the hearing, Gorman's comment was, “I had to go to medical. *Submitted written statement. The incident took place on D2E. I felt compelled to stand up for that guy. I was defending myself.” (DE #12-10.) Gorman's written statement explained that he was just defending himself. (DE 12-#11.) Relying on staff reports, witness statements, video review, photographs, and the confidential incident report, the hearing officer imposed a penalty of 120 days lost earned time credits and demoted him from credit class 1 to credit class 2. (Id.) Gorman appealed to the facility head and the final reviewing authority, but his appeals were denied. (DE #12-13.)

         DISCUSSION

         When prisoners lose earned time credits in a prison disciplinary hearing, they are entitled to certain protections under the Due Process Clause: (1) advance written notice of the charges; (2) an opportunity to be heard before an impartial decision maker; (3) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in defense when consistent with institutional safety and correctional goals; and (4) a written statement by a fact finder of evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563 (1974). To satisfy due process, there ...


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