United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
BRIAN E. CONNELL, Petitioner,
DUSHAN ZATECKY, Respondent.
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
all habeas corpus proceedings under 28 U.S.C. § 2254,
the successful petitioner must demonstrate that he ‘is
in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or
treaties of the United States.'” Brown v.
Watters, 599 F.3d 602, 611 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting 28
U.S.C. § 2254(a)).
considered the pleadings and the expanded record in the
present action, and being duly advised, the Court finds that
petitioner Brian Connell has not met this burden as to his
challenge to a disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR
15-08-0088. This conclusion rests on the following facts and
August 25, 2015, Connell was charged in No. ISR 15-08-0088
with Assault/ Battery. The written charge recited that at
8:15 p.m on August 23, 2015 Connell assaulted inmate Robert
White at the Plainfield Correctional Facility.
Report of Conduct states:
On 08/25/2015, Lt. S. Watson contacted me, Investigator D.
Wilson, and informed me of a possible assault that took place
on 08/23/2015. I reviewed video footage and observed Offender
Brian Connell #890436 choke Offender Robert White. Offender
Connell then grabs Offender White's leg and twists it.
August 27, 2015, Connell was notified of this charge on and
was notified of his procedural rights in connection with the
matter. A hearing on the charge was conducted on September 1,
2015. Connell was present at that hearing and made a
statement concerning the charge. His statement was this:
“I can't choke him he don't got a neck.”
The hearing officer considered this statement and other
evidence, including the conduct report, a report of
investigation, and a video, and found Connell guilty of the
charged misconduct. Sanctions were imposed. This action
Indiana prisoner must be afforded procedural due process
before being deprived of good-time credits or demoted in
credit class. Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641,
644-45 (7th Cir. 2001). 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).
Applying the requirements of Wolff and Hill
as an analytical template, entitles Connell received all the
process to which he was entitled. That is, the charge was
clear, adequate notice was given, and the evidence was
sufficient. In addition, (1) Connell was given the
opportunity to appear before the hearing officer and make a
statement concerning the charge, (2) the hearing officer
issued a sufficient statement of his findings, and (3) the
hearing officer issued a written reason for the decision and
for the sanctions imposed.
Connell's claims that he was denied the protections
afforded by Wolff and Hill are without
a. Connell claims that he was not properly
“screened” on the charge. Wolff requires
adequate notice, and adequate notice gives the charged party
a chance to marshal the facts in his defense and to clarify
what the charges are, in fact. 418 U.S. at 564. Adequate
notice need only include “the number of the rule
violated . . . and a summary of the facts underlying the
charge.” Whitford v. Boglino, 63 F.3d 527, 534
(7th Cir. 1995) (per curiam). Measured against this standard,
the notice given to Connell through the conduct report was
entirely adequate to inform him that he faced the charge of
Assault/Battery and that the basis of the charge was his
repeated striking of inmate Robert White at 8:15 on August
23, 2015. This is shown by the expanded record and
Connell's contention otherwise is meritless.
b. Connell argues that he was not provided with the lay
advocate he had identified as his choice for performing that
role at the disciplinary proceeding. He was offered an inmate
advocate, but declined. These circumstances did not violate
Connell's due process rights. Wilson-El v.
Finnan, 263 F.App'x 503, 506 (7th Cir.
2008)(“due process does not require that prisons
appoint a lay advocate for a disciplinary hearing unless
‘an illiterate inmate is involved . . . or where the
complexity of the issue makes it unlikely that the inmate
will be able to collect and present the evidence necessary
for an adequate comprehension of the case.'”)
(quoting Wolff, 418 U.S. at 570).
c. Connell claims that he was denied evidence when prison
authorities rejected his demand for Robert White's
written statement lacks merit. This is because due process in
this context did not entitle him to confront and
cross-examine adverse witnesses. Piggie v. Cotton,342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003); Brown-Bey v. United
States,720 F.2d 467, 469 (7th Cir. 1983)
(“Confrontation and cross-examination of witnesses in
the context of ...