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Dewald v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

August 31, 2016

BART DEWALD, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Bart Dewald, a pro se prisoner, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding (ISP 14-02-0317) held on March 4, 2014, where he was found guilty of attempted trafficking in violation of A 111/113 and sanctioned with the loss of 60 days earned credit time and a demotion in credit class by a hearing officer at the Indiana State Prison. (DE 1.)

         On February 22, 2014, Lieutenant Gordon issued a Report of Conduct charging Dewald with attempting to traffic, which states:

On 1-22-2014 at approx. 11:40 I, Lt T Gordon, was sitting in the ACH counselors office when offender Dewald 174244 opened the door and gave me a sealed envelope. Upon opening the envelope and reading a hand written letter it became apparent that Dewald was attempting me to engage in trafficking with him.

(DE 5-1.) Dewald's letter was submitted with the conduct report. (DE 5-2.) In it, Dewald asked Lieutenant Gordon to do an internet search on Dewald's former bail bond and detective agency businesses to see whether his signs were still on his office building. (Id.) The end of the letter stated:

Do you ever check that blue box on the wall, or better yet, do you have a key for the box on the wall used for the counselors. Unless something needs immediate attention, I could nonchalantly place info in the counselors box, only when you work weekends, and only after your advised of the drop.

(Id. at 2.)

         On March 3, 2014, Dewald was notified of the charge and was provided with the conduct report and screening report. (DE 5-1; DE 5-3.) Dewald pled not guilty, did not request a lay advocate, and requested Lieutenant Gordon “be present at the hearing or speak with offender prior (preferred).” (DE 5-3.) Dewald also requested a copy of the letter. (Id.)

         The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on March 4, 2014, where Dewald made a statement:

This just never happened-I don't know why he would think something like that. He misunderstood the letter-just want him to sit down with me so I don't have to keep writing letters-
Lt Gordon wrongfully accused me-aren't I allowed to face my accuser? I tried speaking with him this morning about why he thought I asked him to traffick-he said no.
We were in negotiations-giving him information I told him to go on line so he could check out what I was saying about my business. It was a misunderstanding.
This is serious-it is not in my nature.
Since he won't talk to me I want the major to sit ...

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