United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
T. MOODY JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
O'Neill, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing (MCF
15-07-331) held at the Miami Correctional Facility on August
13, 2015. The Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him
guilty of Use/Possession of a Controlled Substance in
violation of B-202 and sanctioned him with the loss of 30
days earned credit time. In the petition, O'Neill lists
Ground One, he argues that there was insufficient evidence to
have found him guilty because there is conflicting evidence
about whether he signed an admission of guilt form. However,
it is irrelevant whether he signed the form or not.
“[T]he relevant question is whether there is any
evidence in the record that could support the conclusion
reached by the disciplinary board.” Superintendent
v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455-56 (1985).
[T]he findings of a prison disciplinary board [need only]
have the support of some evidence in the record. This is a
lenient standard, requiring no more than a modicum of
evidence. Even meager proof will suffice, so long as the
record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings of the
disciplinary board were without support or otherwise
arbitrary. Although some evidence is not much, it still must
point to the accused's guilt. It is not our province to
assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the
disciplinary board's decision.
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000)
(quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis
omitted). Even a Conduct Report alone can be sufficient
evidence to support a finding of guilt. McPherson v.
McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999). Such is the
case here. The Conduct Report states that “O'Neil
provided an adequate sample to be tested in the ICUP Testing
Device. I, Sgt. King then applied the Redi Test Single Panel
Dip Test for Suboxone. The test result was positive for
Suboxone in the sample.” DE 1-1 at 1. That is some
evidence that O'Neill was guilty of using a controlled
substance. Therefore Ground One is not a basis for habeas
Ground Two, he argues that he was denied evidence.
Specifically he wanted paperwork from another inmate's
disciplinary hearing which contained his signature. In a
prison disciplinary hearing, an inmate has a constitutional
right to present relevant, exculpatory evidence. Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974). Exculpatory in this
context means evidence which “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). O'Neill argues that he
mistakenly signed a drug test form from another inmate's
test. However, such paperwork would not have been exculpatory
because it would have done nothing to undermine the
reliability of his drug test results. Moreover, this
paperwork was not withheld from him - it could not be found.
Therefore even if the requested paperwork had been
exculpatory, it could not have been produced at his hearing.
Ground Two is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Ground Three, he argues that he was denied due process
because he was not given a copy of the drug test results in
violation of prison policy. However, the violation of a
prison policy is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991).
(“In conducting habeas review, a federal court is
limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.”). Here, the DHO did consider the test results
(DE 1-1 at 3), and “prison disciplinary boards are
entitled to receive, and act on, information that is withheld
from the prisoner and the public . . ..” White v.
Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 767 (7th Cir. 2001).
Moreover, the denial of evidence is 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). Here, O'Neill does not argue that he passed
the test. He only says that he wanted to see the paperwork
showing that he failed. That would not have aided his
defense. Therefore Ground Three is not a basis for habeas
Ground Four, he argues that there was a violation of the
chain of custody because he signed the drug test form for
another inmate. However, “[a]bsent some affirmative
indication that a mistake may have been made, [the]
hypothetical possibility of tampering does not render
evidence inadmissible, but goes instead to the weight of the
evidence.” Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 653
(7th Cir. 2000). Here, there is no indication that his urine
sample was not the one that tested positive for Suboxone.
There is only evidence that he mistakenly signed the wrong
paperwork. That is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
these reasons, the habeas corpus petition is DENIED. The
clerk is DIRECTED to ...