United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
DEMETRIUS D. THOMAS, Petitioner,
OPINION AND ORDER
S. Van Bokkelen United States District Judge
D. Thomas, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a prison disciplinary hearing
(WCU-15-03-332) where a Westville Correctional Facility
Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”) found him
guilty of violating state law by engaging in criminal gang
activity on March 23, 2015. He was sanctioned with the loss
of 365 days earned credit time and demoted to credit class 2.
Officer Haas initiated the charges when he wrote the Report
Based on the information obtained through interviews, and
witness's offender, Thomas, Demetrius is being charged
with the above offense A-100.
It was found in this investigation that offender Thomas along
with several other affiliated members assaulted two opposing
gang members. This assault caused significant injury to the
victims. Thomas was named by multiple witnesses during this
investigation, and was seen by staff throwing away a bloody
shirt, when staff responded to the scene.
This action is a Criminal offense violating State Law. IC
A Confidential informant has provided information in this
case resulting in the conclusion that the above identified
offender is guilty of the above charged offense. I swear to
affirm under penalties of perjury that I have knowledge of
the confidential informant, and that I believe the informant
provided to me in this case by the confidential informant to
be reliable and true.
prisoners lose earned time credits in a prison disciplinary
hearing, they are entitled to certain protections under the
Due Process Clause: (1) advance written notice of the
charges; (2) an opportunity to be heard before an impartial
decision maker; (3) an opportunity to call witnesses and
present documentary evidence in defense when consistent with
institutional safety and correctional goals; and (4) a
written statement by a fact finder of evidence relied on and
the reasons for the disciplinary action. Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563 (1974). To satisfy due
process, there must also be “some evidence” to
support the hearing officer's decision.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S.
445, 455 (1985). Thomas raises three grounds in his petition.
Ground One, Thomas argues that he was not provided with all
of the evidence he requested. Notably, the only witness
Thomas requested at screening was presented at his hearing.
(DE 6-3 at 2.) Thomas claims that he additionally requested a
statement from one of the victims of the assault and video
evidence of the incident. In the prison disciplinary context,
an inmate has a constitutional right to present relevant,
exculpatory evidence. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S.
539, 566 (1974). Nevertheless, “prison disciplinary
boards are entitled to receive, and act on, information that
is withheld from the prisoner and the public . . ..”
White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 767 (7th
Cir. 2001). Here, the evidence that Thomas requested was
included in the confidential internal affairs file that was
considered by the DHO. Therefore he was not denied due
process and Ground One is not a basis for habeas corpus
Ground Two, Thomas argues that because he was not given the
decision of the hearing officer in a timely manner, the
process of his administrative appeal was defective. However,
Thomas does not have a federal due process right to a
particular procedure for administrative review under
Wolff. Any such complaint regarding the
administrative review of his claim is a state law claim,
which would not entitle him to habeas relief. Notably, though
Thomas complains about not receiving the decision of the
hearing officer until May 14, 2015, he has not shown any
resulting prejudice. Indeed, the Respondent did not make any
claims of procedural default against Thomas. Therefore, he
was not denied due process and Ground Two is not a basis for
habeas corpus relief.
Ground Three, Thomas argues that there was insufficient
evidence to have found him guilty. “In reviewing a
decision for some evidence, [the court is to] 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) (quotation marks omitted). “[T]he relevant
question is whether there is any evidence in the record that
could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary
board.” Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445,
455-56 (1985). “[T]he findings of a prison disciplinary
board [need only] have the support of some evidence in the
record. This is a lenient standard, requiring no more than a
modicum of evidence. Even meager proof will suffice, so long
as the record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings
of the disciplinary board were without support or otherwise
arbitrary.” Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649,
652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Here, there is “some evidence” and the decision
to find Thomas guilty was not arbitrary. The confidential
file submitted to the court under seal details an extensive
investigation. Multiple witnesses establish that Thomas was
involved in the gang-related assault and battery. Although
Thomas makes much of the fact that the victims did not
identify him as the attacker, the Internal Affairs
investigator also indicated possible motives for
non-cooperation by the victims of the attacks. There was
sufficient evidence to have found him guilty and Ground Three
is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
these reasons, the habeas corpus petition is DENIED and the