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Zook v. Superintendent

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

September 8, 2016

MICHAEL ZOOK, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The petition of Michael Zook for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. XAF 14-10-02. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Michael Zook's habeas petition must be denied.

         Discussion

         Overview

         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); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).

         I. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On October 4, 2014, Supervisor Murdock wrote a conduct report that charged Zook with Escape. The conduct report states:

On 10/4/14 at approximately 0305 DOC resident Zook, Michael 172157 was declared escaped. The resident left Liberty Hall on a work pass on 10/3/14 at approximately 1250 and was due back on 10/4/14 at approximately 0100. The resident failed to return to the facility. At approximately 0140 the resident's employer at Seran Robert Heyser was contacted. Mr. Heyser advised the resident never showed up for work. The resident's emergency contacts as well as the jail and hospital were called in an attempt to locate/contact the resident. All advised they were unaware of the resident's whereabouts. At approximately 0305 after all efforts to locate or contact resident were exhausted Supervisor Murdock declared the resident escaped and requested a warrant for his arrest.

         On October 30 2014, Zook was notified of the charge and served with the conduct report and the notice of disciplinary hearing “screening report.” Zook was notified of his rights, pled guilty, and did not request the appointment of a lay advocate. During the screening, Zook checked the box that he wanted to call witnesses but did not identify any witnesses. Similarly, Zook checked the box that he wished to request physical evidence but failed to identify any evidence. Zook also waived a 24 hour notice of hearing. [dkt. 1-1, at p. 3].

         The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on October 30, 2014. Zook provided the following statement “I went to go see my daughter.” The hearing officer found Zook guilty of the charge of Escape. [dkt. 1-1, at p. 2].

         In making the guilty determination, the hearing officer relied on the conduct report. The hearing officer imposed the following sanctions: an inter-facility transfer to the Indiana Department of Correction, a 180-day earned credit time deprivation, and a demotion from credit class 1 to credit class 2. The sanctions were imposed because of the seriousness of the offense.

         Zook's appeals through the administrative process were denied. He now seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, arguing that his due process rights were violated.

         II. Analysis

         Zook alleges that he was denied an impartial hearing officer and was ...


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