United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
William T. Lawrence, United States District Court Judge.
petition of Byron Johnson for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding, CIC 15-08-0013,
in which he was found guilty of attempting to traffick. For
the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. Johnson's habeas
petition must be denied.
in Indiana custody may not be deprived of credit time,
Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004),
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); Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d
841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d
674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d
649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
30, 2015, Correctional Officer Steven Hall issued a Report of
Conduct charging Mr. Johnson with conspiracy/attempting to
traffick in violation of Code A-111/113. The Report of
On 7/30/15 at 9:00 A.M. I, Officer Steven Hall, was having a
conversation with Offender Johnson, Byron #188316 23B-1E. He
was explaining to me how I could make a lot of money bringing
him contraband. I told him it wasn't worth the risk and
he told me I would never get caught. He stated that he has
someone he has been trafficking with for a while and no one
will ever know unless he tells.
Johnson was notified of the charge on August 4, 2015, when he
was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of
Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 8-2. The
Screening Officer noted that Mr. Johnson did not request any
witnesses but requested the video from the camera at the
officer's desk at 9:00 a.m. for the purpose of
determining whether he and Officer Hall were at the desk at
that time. Id. A summary of the video was prepared
by Lieutenant St. John, the Disciplinary Hearing Board
Chairman. Dkt. 8-5. The summary states, “At time stamp
8:53:27 a.m. camera clearly shows a black male offender
standing at the officer's desk on the 1/3 side of E unit.
Due to the panning of the camera, I, Lt. St. John, was unable
to positively identify the offender.” Dkt. 8-5.
disciplinary hearing took place on August 12, 2015. Dkt. 8-6.
The Hearing Officer noted Mr. Johnson's statement that
“I was not out of my room so I could not have been
talking to Ofc Hall. He told me I.A. and him and close [sic].
I told him he got his strips [sic] taken over
trafficking.” Id. Relying on staff reports,
the Hearing Officer determined that Mr. Johnson had violated
Code A-111/113. Id. The sanctions imposed included a
written reprimand, 45 days of phone restriction, 180 days of
disciplinary segregation, the deprivation of 149 days of
earned credit time, and the demotion from credit class I to
credit class II Id. The Hearing Officer imposed the
sanctions because of the frequency and nature of the offense
and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect
on the offender's future behavior. Id. Mr.
Johnson's appeals were denied. This habeas action
Johnson alleges that his due process rights were violated
during the disciplinary proceeding. His claims are that 1)
the video summary proves that the conduct report was
fabricated; 2) he was not allowed to present the evidence he
requested at screening, i.e., the hearing officer
did not consider it; and 3) the video was not reviewed by the
hearing officer who presided over the hearing.
Johnson's position is that the reporting officer
fabricated the entire incident discussed in the conduct
report. Mr. Johnson contends that the video that he requested
at screening was exculpatory because it showed a black
unidentified offender standing at Officer Hall's desk
(and Mr. Johnson is white/mixed), it did not show any
officer, and the time-stamp of the video was 8:53:27 a.m.,
all of which conflicts with the conduct report. The
respondent responds that the video was not exculpatory
because it did not positively identify the offender at the
officer's desk because of the panning of the camera. It
is undisputed that the Hearing Officer did not rely on the
video in finding Mr. Johnson guilty.
video was, in fact, exculpatory, then there was a due process
error when the Hearing Officer failed to consider it as
evidence. “[P]rocedural due process require[s] prison
officials to disclose all material exculpatory
evidence” to the petitioner in a disciplinary case.
Jones v. Cross,637 F.3d 841, 847 (7th Cir. 2011).
“Evidence is exculpatory if it undermines or
contradicts the finding of guilt, and it is material if
disclosing it creates a reasonable ...