United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Dewald, a pro se prisoner, filed an amended 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 24, 2014. (DE # 3.) There, he was found guilty
of use of an unauthorized controlled substance in violation
of Code B-202 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. (Id.) The
charge was initiated on March 17, 2014, when Internal Affairs
Urinalysis Coordinator W. Parnell wrote a conduct report:
On 3-17-14 the test results from the Redwood Toxicology
Laboratory were received by the Internal Affairs Department
at the Indiana State Prison. While looking through the test
results offender Bart Dewald #174244 had a positive result
for Marijuana (THC). On 3-7-14 Offender Dewald provided a
urine specimen for the Offender Urinalysis Program. Redwood
Laboratory found the seal sealed on the specimen bottle. This
specimen was sealed in front of offender Dewald by W.
Parnell, the administrator of the test.
Note: According to Corizon Medical Services offender Dewalt
was/is not on any medication at the time that would test
positive for the above drug.
The restitution for this drug test is $17.28 in accordance
with the Department's Administrative Procedures for
$15.00 for laboratory fees
$2.28 for field test
Total of $17.28.
(DE # 7-1.)
March 21, 2014, Dewald was formally notified of the charge
and given a copy of the conduct report. (DE # 7-5.) He pled
not guilty, did not request the assistance of a lay advocate
and did not request any physical evidence or seek to call any
witnesses. (Id.) A disciplinary hearing was
conducted on March 24, 2014, where Dewald stated,
“compared to last test - the numbers are lower. I
don't see how I can be charged when it's not out of
my system. Check the previous test.” (DE # 7-6.)
Relying on the staff reports and the test results, the
hearing officer found Dewald guilty of use of an unauthorized
controlled substance, in violation of Code B-202.
(Id.) Dewald appealed to the final reviewing
authority, but his appeal was denied. (DE # 7-9.)
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 must also be “some evidence” to
support the hearing officer's decision.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S.
445, 455 (1985).
raises four issues in his petition: (1) whether he was denied
the right to present exculpatory evidence; (2) whether he was
given the right to be heard; (3) whether the evidence
supports the decision; (4) whether Dewald had a fair and
impartial decision maker.
Mr. Dewald complains that he was denied the right to present
exculpatory evidence. At the hearing, Mr. Dewald argued that
he tested positive for THC in the instant test only because
of residual THC from previous use. The hearing officer denied
his request to admit that previous test. A prisoner has a
limited right to present witnesses and evidence in his
defense, consistent with correctional goals and safety.
Wolff, 418 U.S. at 566. A hearing officer has
considerable discretion with respect to witness and evidence
requests, and may deny requests that threaten institutional
safety or are irrelevant, repetitive, or unnecessary.
Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003).
Furthermore, due process only requires access to witnesses
and evidence that are exculpatory. Rasheed-Bey v.
Duckworth, 969 F.2d 357, 361 (7th Cir. 1992).
“Exculpatory” in this context means evidence that
“directly undermines the reliability of the evidence in
the record pointing to [the prisoner's] guilt.”
Meeks v. McBride, 81 F.3d 717, 721 (7th Cir. 1996).
The denial of the right to present evidence will be
considered harmless, unless the prisoner shows that the
evidence could have aided his defense. See Jones v.
Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 847 (7th Cir. 2011).
Dewald was not denied his right to present exculpatory
evidence. The previous test result was not dispositive to the
question of whether he tested positive for THC in this case.
The fact that Dewald tested positive for THC in February does
not exculpate him in testing positive in March. The fact
remains that Dewald tested positive for THC. This is true
with or without the February drug test results. ...