United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DIRECTING ADDITIONAL RESPONSE REGARDING
EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE CLAIM
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT .
petition of Robert White for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding, ISR 15-07-0106,
in which he was found guilty of assault/battery. For the
reasons explained in this entry, a supplemental response must
be provided by the respondent.
in Indiana custody may not be deprived of credit time,
Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004),
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); Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d
841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011); 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
29, 2015, Internal Affairs Officer Poer issued a Report of
Conduct charging Mr. White with assault/battery in violation
of Code A-102. Dkt. 13-1. The Report of Conduct refers to the
Report of Investigation and a confidential case file, which
detail an attack on offender James White that resulted in
injuries requiring transportation to a hospital.
Id.; dkt. 15 (ex parte).
White was notified of the charge on July 31, 2015, when he
was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of
Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 13-2. The
Screening Officer noted that Mr. White requested a lay
advocate. One was provided. Dkt. 13-5. Mr. White also wanted
to call three offender witnesses, James White, Michael Smith,
and Nicholas LzCruze, and requested the video as evidence.
Witness offender Michael Smith stated, “Robert White
was not around James White when he was assaulted[.] Robert
and James were friends and got along well.” Dkt. 13-3.
Witness offender Nicholas LaCruze stated, “Robert White
#205276 did not participate in the assault on James White
#248220. Robert White #205276 is not a STG member. I Nicholas
LaCruze #239236 made this statement and statement (remaining
words marked out).” Dkt. 13-4. There is no record of
the victim, James White, providing a statement.
White alleges that his due process rights were violated
during the disciplinary proceeding. His claims as stated in
his petition overlap but are discerned as follows: 1) the
hearing officer's finding of guilt was not supported by
sufficient evidence because no evidence suggested that he
participated in the assault and there was exculpatory
evidence consisting of the victim's statement and video
(showing he was not present at the time and place of the
assault); 2) he and his lawyer were not allowed to view
exculpatory video evidence; 3) there was no evidence showing
that he was a gang member; and 4) the hearing officer failed
to consider exculpatory evidence.
respondent argues that Mr. White failed to exhaust all of his
claims by raising them in his administrative appeals. In his
appeal to the Facility Head, Mr. White stated:
respondent contends that the only claim raised on appeal was
a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. The Court
finds that Mr. White's appeal also included his claim
that exculpatory evidence (the victim's statement
-“Mr. White will also tell you I didn't touch
him” - and the video) was ignored. Dkt. 13-8. The
respondent has not addressed that claim on the merits.
video report to which Mr. White refers is docket 13-6. The
hearing officer reviewed a video and reported that
“[d]ue to the rotation of the camera all I saw was at
1:47 pm I saw numerous offenders headed toward room 28-2E
with their backs to the camera. At 1:48 pm I saw numerous
offenders exit 28-2E and walk away from the camera and it
rotated and I lost them.” Dkt. 13-6.
noted, there is no record of James White, the victim,
providing a witness statement or any explanation for that
evidence not being permitted. “Inmates have a due
process right to call witnesses at their disciplinary
hearings when doing so would be consistent with institutional
safety and correctional goals.” Piggie v.
Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 678 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974)).
However, “prisoners do not have the right to call