United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court
petition of Tyrone Denny for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No.
IYC 15-10-0047. For the reasons explained in this Entry,
Denny'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
October 5, 2015, while Denny was housed at the Plainfield
Correctional Facility, Investigator P. Prulhiere issued a
Report of Conduct charging Denny with aiding/attempting the
use or possession of a cell phone, a class A offense, in
violation of Code A 111/121. The Report of Conduct states:
On October 5, 2015 at approximately 8:00 a.m., I Investigator
P. Prulhiere, completed a forensic analysis of a cell phone
confiscated from Housing Unit South (evidence number S15-
09-20). Retrieved from the phone was the contact list, photos
and text messages. During the process of reviewing the
collected data, I found two phone numbers connected to Tyrone
Denny 160500 either by numbers submitted by him for his
facility telephone list or from his Approved Visitation List.
718-570-4307 (Dee Denny) was found with a corresponding text
message sent to the phone. 870-904-9576 with contact name
Kiajuana was found imbedded in the phones [sic] contacted
listing. 870-904-9576 was reported by Kiajuana Beasley as her
contact phone number on her visitation application to visit
Tyrone Denny. 870-904-9576 is not on Offender Denny's
facility telephone listing. As a result of this information,
there is sufficient evidence to charge Offender Denny with
attempting to use and/or use of a cell phone.
was notified of the charge on October 9, 2015, when he was
served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of
Disciplinary Hearing Denny did not request any witnesses or
physical evidence, though he did request a lay advocate.
Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on November
6, 2015. At the hearing, Denny stated that “I don't
even know Kiajuana. I didn't use that phone. They have
others that have Dee['s] number”. The Hearing
Officer found Denny guilty of class A aiding/attempting the
use or possession of a cell phone after considering the
conduct report, offender statement, case file. The
recommended and approved sanction imposed included loss of
privileges, 180 days of lost credit time, and demotion in
credit class from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 2, which was
suspended. The Hearing Officer imposed the sanctions because
of the seriousness of the offense, the frequency/nature of
conduct, the degree to which the violation disrupted or
endangered the security of the facility, and the
offender's attitude and demeanor at the hearing.
appeals were denied and he filed this petition for a writ of
challenges the disciplinary action against him arguing that
the charges are duplicative in violation of DOC policy. He
also argues in reply that the evidence was not sufficient to
satisfy DOC policy and that the sanctions violated DOC
policy. But a claim that an aspect of a disciplinary action
violated prison policy is insufficient to show a due process
violation. See Keller v. Donahue, 2008 WL 822255,
271 Fed.Appx. 531, 532 (7th Cir. Mar. 27, 2008) (in a habeas
action, an inmate “has no cognizable claim arising from
the prison's application of its regulations.”);
Hester v. McBride, 966 F.Supp. 765, 774-75 (N.D.Ind.
1997) (violations of the Indiana Adult Disciplinary Policy
Procedures do not state a claim for federal habeas relief).
In conducting habeas review, “a federal court is
limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991).
reply in support of his habeas petition, Denny also argues
that the evidence is insufficient to support his disciplinary
conviction. He argues that the conviction was based on the
finding of a circuit board for a cell phone and that this
item was not found in his possession. First, Denny did not
raise this argument in his habeas petition and has therefore
has arguably waived it. In addition, even absent waiver, he
has failed to show that the evidence was not sufficient. In
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, “courts are
not required to conduct an examination of the entire record,
independently assess witness credibility, or weigh the
evidence, but only determine whether the prison disciplinary
board's decision to revoke good time credits has some
factual basis.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d
784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999); see also Meeks v. McBride,81 F.3d 717, 720 (7th Cir. 1996) (“because the
‘some evidence' standard . . . does not permit
courts to consider the relative weight of the evidence
presented to the disciplinary board, it is ‘[g]enerally
immaterial that an accused prisoner presented exculpatory
evidence unless that evidence directly undercuts the
reliability of the evidence on which the disciplinary
authority relied' in support of its
conclusion”)(quoting Viens v. Daniels, 871
F.2d 1328, 1335 (7th Cir. 1989)). Instead, the “some
evidence” standard of Hill is ...