United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
petition of Michael Scales for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as NSF
16-01-0032. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr.
Scales'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 Dated:
2/27/2017 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
December 30, 2015, J. Gibson wrote a Conduct Report charging
Mr. Scales with violating Code B-247 for possession or
solicitation of unauthorized personal information. The
Conduct Report states:
Offender Michael Scales 242555 has been corresponding with an
ex-female officer. They have not gone through proper channels
to be approved to correspond. Mailroom has confiscated mail
from the ex-officer and also returned mail letting her know
this is not allowed. On the above date and time Offender
Scales 242555 wrote to the ex officer on JPay telling her how
to change her name and address so they can correspond. This
has taken place several times. Please see attached.
No. 12-1 at 1.
Scales was notified of the charge on December 30, 2015, when
he received the Screening Report. The Screening Report
reflects that he plead guilty to the charge, but requested a
lay advocate for the hearing.
hearing was held on January 5, 2016. At the hearing, Mr.
Scales changed his plea to not guilty. He stated that he
talked to internal affairs “and they did not  tell me
we could not talk to each other. I did not know.”
Filing No. 12-10 at 1. Based on Mr. Scales's statement,
the staff reports, and the letters themselves, the hearing
officer found Mr. Scales guilty. The hearing officer
recommended and approved sanctions including a ninety-day
earned-credit-time deprivation and a credit class demotion.
Scales appealed to the Facility Head and the IDOC Final
Reviewing Authority, but both appeals were denied. He then
brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Scales purports to raise the following three distinct claims
in his habeas petition: (1) he was not provided sufficient
notice of the nature of the charges against him and the
charge of possession or solicitation of unauthorized personal
information is unconstitutionally vague; (2) his conduct was
not clearly prohibited by the explanation of the charge; and
(3) there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty. The
respondent construes all of these claims as challenges to the
sufficiency of the evidence and only briefs that issue. But
this ignores Mr. Scales's vagueness challenge. The Court
will thus address this claim and the sufficiency of the
evidence in turn. 1.Vagueness The Government
violates due process “by taking away someone's
life, liberty, or property under a criminal law so vague that
it fails to give ordinary people fair notice of the conduct
it punishes, or so standardless that it invites arbitrary
enforcement.” Johnson v. United States, 135
S.Ct. 2551, 2556 (2015). The prohibition on vagueness applies
not just to criminal laws, but also to prison disciplinary
offenses the violation of which can lead to a loss of
liberty. See Isby-Israel v. Finnan, 347 Fed.Appx.
253, 254-55 (7th Cir. 2009) (assessing whether a prison
disciplinary rule was unconstitutionally vague); see also
Brown v. Schneiter, 335 Fed.Appx. 618, 622-23 (7th Cir.
Appendix to the IDOC Adult Disciplinary Process, which went
into effect on June 1, 2015, defines the disciplinary offense