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
William T. Lawrence, 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
15-08-0087. This conclusion rests on the following facts and
August 25, 2015, Connell was charged in No. ISR 15-08-0087
with Assault/ Battery. The written charge recited that at
6:30 p.m on August 23, 2015 Connell assaulted inmate Robert
White at the Plainfield Correctional Facility.
August 27, 2015, Connell was notified of this charge 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:
“We were talking about the show The Walking Dead and
[the reporting officer] took it as an assault.” 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 followed.
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, 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
Connell's claims that he was denied the protections
afforded by Wolff and Hill are without
a. 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).
b. Connell claims that he was denied evidence when prison
authorities rejected his demand for Robert White's
written statement lack 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 a prison disciplinary proceeding are matters
left to the sound discretion of prison officials.”).
c. Connell challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. In
this setting, evidence is constitutionally sufficient if it
“point[s] to the accuseds guilt, " Lenea v.
Lane, 882 F.2d 1171, 1175 (7th Cir. 1989), and that the
decision “not be arbitrary or without support in the
record." McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784,
786 (7th Cir. 1999). As has been explained, however, the
evidence certainly pointed to Connell's guilt. See
Hill, 472 U.S. at 457 ("The Federal Constitution
does not require evidence that logically precludes any
conclusion but the one reached by the disciplinary
board."). Although Connell denies that he committed the
assault, the hearing officer was entitled to conclude
otherwise. The evidence in No. ISR 15-08-0088 was
"The touchstone of due process is protection of the
individual against arbitrary action of the government."
Wolff, 418 U.S. at 558. There was no arbitrary
action in any aspect of the charge, disciplinary proceeding,
or sanctions involved in the events identified in this
action, and there was no constitutional infirmity in the
proceeding which entitles Connell to ...