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Bayless v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

December 22, 2016

JAMES BAYLESS, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN, Superintendent Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, [1]Respondent.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge.

         The petition of James Bayless for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. CIC-15-06-0065. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Bayless'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

         At the time of the offense and disciplinary conviction, Bayless was incarcerated at the Correctional Industrial Facility. On June 3, 2015, Internal Affairs Investigator John Poer wrote a Report of Conduct charging Bayless with offenses A-111/113 attempted trafficking. The conduct report states:

On May 5, 2015 an envelope containing a paperback book with 40 suboxone strips hidden in the spine of the book was intercepted at the mail search area. An investigation into the attempt to traffic a controlled substance was launched. Information obtained during this investigation indicates that offender James Bayless 15670110A-3D participated in the delivery of the package containing the Suboxone strips. Offender Bayless is in violation of Class A 111/113 Attempting to Traffic with an Offender.

         An Incident Report with substantially the same wording as the conduct report was also written up. Bayless was charged with violating prison rules by attempting to traffic.

         On June 5, 2015, Bayless was notified of the charge of attempted trafficking (A-111/113) and served with a copy of the conduct report and the screening report. Bayless was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He did not request a lay advocate, witnesses, or physical evidence. Bayless also waived 24 hours' advance notice of the disciplinary hearing.

         A disciplinary hearing was held on June 10, 2015 in case CIC 15-06-0065. Bayless pleaded not guilty and provided the following statement: “I never made a phone call or knew anything about it.” The disciplinary hearing officer (“DHO”) found Bayless guilty of attempted trafficking. In making this determination, the DHO considered staff reports and the Internal Affairs Investigation Report (Ex-Parte; Sealed; Dkt. 12). Due to the frequency/nature of the offense and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on the offender's future behavior, the hearing officer imposed the following sanctions: a written reprimand, 45 days' lost phone privileges, 90 days' disciplinary segregation, 190 days' lost earned credit time (ECT) (later reduced to 180 days' ECT lost), and a demotion from credit class one to credit class two.

         Bayless appealed the disciplinary action to the Superintendent on June 12, 2015. The appeal was denied on June 23, 2015. Bayless's appeal to the final reviewing authority for the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) was denied on July 13, 2015.

         C. Analysis

         Bayless's habeas petition raises two grounds for relief. First, he argues that he had no knowledge of contraband being sent to him through the mail. He states that he does not receive visits, rarely gets money, talks only to one person on the phone and receives mail only from his mom and wife (who is also in prison). Second, Bayless contends that his mail should not have been opened and the suboxone discovered. He states that no warrant was obtained to open his legal mail and that his mail was not opened in front of them. ...


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