United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge
petition of Charles Harris for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No.
ISF 15-11-0560. For the reasons explained in this Entry,
Harris's habeas petition must be denied.
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).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
November 20, 2015, Charles Worsham issued a Report of Conduct
charging Harris with a trafficking in violation of Code
A-113. The Report of Conduct states:
On November 20th at approximately 7:30 a.m. I was unable to
locate offender Harris. I stepped outside where I saw
offender Harris returning around the corner of another
building carrying a brown paper bag wadded up like trash. The
offenders have been instructed not to wander through the
facility unsupervised. I asked offender Harris what he was
doing. He said he was getting his lunch. His lunch was
nowhere near that building. He then said he was picking up
trash. I took the contraband from offender Harris and
instructed him and the others to return to the van. The paper
bag contained multiple tightly wrapped packages and was given
to Brady Givens, Park Manager before I returned the crew to
Givens emailed Vedora Hinshaw at the Department of Correction
Almost immediately after arriving at the property this
morning Charles “Zac” Worsham, who supervises our
DOC crew here at Fort Harrison SP observed one of the
offenders retrieving an object from near the Service Area
fence. He confronted the individual and asked him what he was
doing. According to Zac he noticed that the offender had a
paper bag in his hand which he claimed was trash. Zac took
possession of this item and called our office for assistance.
I arrived and spoke with Zac, at which time he explained what
was going [on]. I took passion [sic] of the item, and
instructed him to return the crew to the facility
immediately. I then contacted our Conservation Officers and
informed them of the situation. They will be out to take
passion [sic] of the item a soon as they are available. Next
I called the Pendleton Facility to make them aware [of] the
was notified of the charge on November 25, 2015, when he was
served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of
Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening
Officer noted that Harris did not request any witnesses or
Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on December
1, 2015. The Hearing Officer noted Harris' statement,
“Was doing my job the best I could, to pick up trash, I
thought that is what I was doing.” Relying on the staff
reports and the statement of the offender, the Hearing
Officer determined that Harris had violated Code A-113. The
sanctions imposed included a written reprimand, a 30-day
phone restriction, and the deprivation of 90 days of earned
credit time. The Hearing Officer imposed the sanctions
because of the seriousness of the offense and the degree to
which the violation disrupted or endangered the security of
the facility Harris's appeals were denied and he filed
the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
challenges the disciplinary proceeding arguing that the
screening officer denied requested evidence, that there is a
variance between the charge and the conduct report, and that
the evidence is not sufficient to sustain the conviction. 1.
Denial of Evidence Harris first argues that he was
denied requested evidence, but he does not state what
evidence he requested. 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, ...