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White v. Zatecky

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 22, 2016

ROBERT WHITE, Petitioner,
v.
DUSHAN ZATECKY, Respondent.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court

         The petition of Robert White for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR 15-07-108. For the reasons explained in this Entry, White's habeas petition must be denied.

         Discussion

         A. 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).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On July 29, 2015, Internal Affairs Officer John Poer wrote a Report of Conduct in case ISR 15-07-0108, charging White with offenses A-111 and 113, conspiracy/attempting/aiding or abetting trafficking. The conduct report referred to a report of investigation, or incident report, dated July 29, 2015 and to confidential case file 15-CIC-0020. The report of investigation states:

On July 16, 2015 members of the Security Threat Groups Maniac Latin Disciples and Imperial Gangsters assaulted two members of the Security Threat Group Dirty White Boys in B Unit. On July 26, 2015, multiple members of the Security Threat Groups Maniac Latin Disciples and Imperial Gangers assaulted a member of the Security Threat Group Dirty White Boys in E unit. The Correctional Industrial Facility was placed on lockdown and an investigation was conducted. The investigation determined that the assaults were over a stolen package of suboxone strips. Further investigation substantiates that offender Robert White attempted to engage in trafficking suboxone with his wife Michelle White.

         On July 31, 2015, White was notified of the charge of offenses 111 and 113 and served with a copy of the conduct report and incident report and a copy of the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing “Screening Report”. White was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. White did not request any witnesses but did request that the hearing officer review confidential case file 15-CIC-0020.

         On August 6, 2015, a disciplinary hearing was held in case ISR 15-07-0108. White pleaded not guilty and provided the following statement: “Never had my wife do anything with drugs; say anything about drugs. I did say I lost half of my numbers. I've never had any drugs. No money.” [dkt. 6-3]. The hearing officer found White guilty of offenses 111 and 113. He relied on the staff reports and confidential case file 15-CIC-0020 in making his determination. The following sanctions were imposed: written reprimand, 45 day phone restriction, 180 day disciplinary segregation, earned credit time deprivation of 180 days, and a demotion from credit class 1 to credit class 2. The hearing officer based the sanctions due to the frequency and nature of the offense and the likely corrective effect of sanctions.

         White's appeals were denied and he filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         C. Analysis

         White challenges the disciplinary action against him arguing: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support a guilty finding; and (2) he was denied witnesses.

         White challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. The “some evidence” evidentiary standard in this type of case is much more lenient than “beyond a reasonable doubt” or even “by a preponderance.” See Mofft v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002). (hearing officer in prison disciplinary case “need not show culpability beyond a reasonable doubt or credit exculpatory evidence.”). The “some evidence” standard requires “only that the decision not be arbitrary or without support in the record.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, ...


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