United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.
prisoner challenging the process he was afforded in a prison
disciplinary proceeding must meet two requirements: (1) he
has a liberty or property interest that the state has
interfered with; and (2) the procedures he was afforded upon
that deprivation were constitutionally deficient.”
Scruggs v. Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir.
2007). The question presented by this action for habeas
corpus relief brought by Carl Echols, a state prisoner, is
whether the prison disciplinary proceedings he challenges are
tainted by constitutional error.
v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), prescribes the
procedural protections afforded an inmate who faces the loss
of earned good time or a demotion in time earning
Where a prison disciplinary hearing may result in the loss of
good time credits, Wolff held that the inmate must
receive: (1) advance written notice of the disciplinary
charges; (2) an opportunity, when consistent with
institutional safety and correctional goals, to call
witnesses and present documentary evidence in his defense;
and (3) a written statement by the factfinder of the evidence
relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action. 418
U.S. at 563-567.
Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985).
present case, the pleadings and the expanded record show that
a conduct report was issued in No. WVD 16-02-0091 charging
Echols with assault on staff, and that a conduct report was
issued in No. WVD 16-02-0090 charging Echols with fleeing or
resisting staff. These charges were based on events which
occurred shortly after noon on February 17, 2016 in a housing
unit at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, an Indiana
prison. The conduct reports are similar:
• Shortly after noon on February 17, 2016, Echols was
instructed to undergo a “bed move.” This meant
that he was to be assigned from a lower bunk to an upper bunk
in the same cell.
• Echols became agitated and announced that he was
refusing the bed move.
• Echols was placed in mechanical restraints and taken
to a nearby area so that his cellmate could complete his
portion of the bed move. In then being escorted back to his
cell, Echols began resisting staff. This consisted, in part,
of kicking Sgt. W. Garrison in the right knee.
was notified of the charges on February 22, 2016 and also
notified of his procedural rights in connection with the
matters. A hearing in No. WVD 16-02-0091was conducted on
February 25, 2016. Echols was present. He did not make a
statement concerning the charge and refused to answer the
hearing officer's questions. The hearing officer
considered the conduct report and the other evidence and
found Echols guilty of assault on staff. Echols was
disciplined, and this action was filed after his
administrative appeal was concluded. A hearing in No. WVD
16-02-0090 was conducted on March 2, 2016. Echols was
present. He acknowledged his understanding of the charge and
of the hearing. He submitted a witness statement concerning
the charge. The hearing officer considered Echols'
position in the matter, together with the other evidence, and
found Echols guilty of the charged misconduct. Echols was
disciplined, and this action was filed after his
administrative appeal was concluded.
evidence in No. WVD 16-02-0090 and in No. WVD 16-02-0091was
constitutionally sufficient and Echols does not argue
otherwise. He does contend, however, that he was denied
law and the expanded record show that Echols' claim lacks
merit. First, Indiana prisoners must pursue their available
administrative remedies before filing a habeas petition.
Eads v. Hanks, 280 F.3d 728, 729 (7th Cir. 2002);
Markham v. Clark, 978 F.2d 993, 995 (7th Cir. 1992).
The failure to do so constitutes procedural default. The
denial-of-evidence claim in Echols' habeas petition was
not presented in his administrative appeals and hence has
been procedurally defaulted. Echols could overcome procedural
default through a showing of cause and prejudice or that a
fundamental miscarriage of justice would result if the merits
of his claim are not reached. Aliwoli v. Gilmore,
127 F.3d 632, 634 (7th Cir. 1997) (citing Coleman v.
Thompson, 501 U.S. 722, 750 (1991)). However, Echols has
not shown cause for and prejudice from his failure to appeal.
Accordingly, the Court is precluded from reaching the merits
of the habeas claim.
and apart from procedural default, Echols' claim lacks
merit. Wolff gives prison officials flexibility to
keep the hearing within reasonable limits and allows them to
refuse to call witnesses when doing so would risk reprisal or
undermine authority, or when the evidence would be
irrelevant, unnecessary, or hazardous. Wolff, 418
U.S. at 566. “[T]he right to call witnesses [is] a
limited one, available to the inmate ‘when permitting
him to do so will not be unduly hazardous to institutional
safety or correctional goals.'” Ponte v.
Real,471 U.S. 491, 499 (1985) (quoting Wolff,
418 U.S. at 566); see also Pannell v. McBride, 306
F.3d 499, 503 (7th Cir. 2002) (“[P]risoners do not have
the right to call witnesses whose testimony would be
irrelevant, repetitive, or unnecessary.”). Echols
requested statements from inmates who he describes as having
been standing around the cell area, but he did not provide
the names of such persons and did not alert prison
authorities to what information he believed those persons
could supply. It was not unreasonable for administrators to
have denied this portion of his request. He also requested
evidence concerning the bed move, but the reason for the bed