United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Judge
VanCleave, an inmate in the Indiana Department of Corrections
(IDOC), petitions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for the
reversal of certain disciplinary sanctions he received in
IDOC proceeding number IYC-16-08-0195. Mr. VanCleave was
found guilty of possession or use of a controlled substance
while he was incarcerated at the Plainfield Correctional
Facility. His petition, for the reasons explained below, is
prisoners 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 of law.
Due process is satisfied when prisoners are given advance
written notice of the charges against them, provided an
opportunity, albeit with limitations, to present evidence to
an impartial decision maker, given a written statement
articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the
evidence justifying it, and when there is “some
evidence in the record” to support a 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
VanCleave was charged on August 12, 2016, in a conduct report
written by Investigator P. Prulhiere, with “Class
B” offense “202, Possession or Use of a
Controlled Substance.” Dkt. 10-1. Prulhiere wrote the
report charging Mr. VanCleave with this offense because Mr.
VanCleave's randomly collected urine sample, taken August
3, 2016, tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine.
At about 12:05 p.m. on that day, the sample was provided to
and collected by Sergeant J. Wilson. Redwood Toxicology
Laboratory tested the sample and reported that it was
positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine. Dkt. 10-2. The
prison disciplinary proceeding followed.
prison served Mr. VanCleave with the Conduct Report and a
Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 10-3.
He was notified of his rights and he pled not guilty. Mr.
VanCleave did not request a lay advocate but requested
information from a witness, Sergeant Wilson.
Wilson provided a written statement. The hearing officer
considered the Conduct Report, Redwood Toxicology
Laboratory's report, the Screening Report, a statement
from Sergeant Wilson, and Mr. VanCleave's statements.
hearing officer found Mr. VanCleave guilty of the violations
and imposed as sanctions the loss of sixty (60) days of
earned time credit, demotion from credit class one to credit
class two, and reimbursement to the correctional facility of
$17.28 for the cost of the urine test. Dkt. 10-6.
VanCleave has exhausted his administrative appeal remedies.
VanCleave claims that his rights to due process of law were
denied because there was insufficient evidence to find him
guilty. He argues that he takes a prescribed medication,
Zantac, which caused a false positive for amphetamine and
methamphetamine in the laboratory test.
hearing officer's decision need only rest on ‘some
evidence' logically supporting it and demonstrating that
the result is not arbitrary.” Ellison v.
Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th Cir. 2016). The
“some evidence” evidentiary standard in this type
of case is much more lenient than “beyond a reasonable
doubt” or even “by a preponderance.”
See Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir.
2002) (hearing officer in prison disciplinary case
“need not show culpability beyond a reasonable doubt or
credit exculpatory evidence.”); McPherson v.
McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (“In
reviewing a decision for ‘some 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.”) (internal quotation omitted).
“[T]he relevant question is whether there is any
evidence in the record that could support the conclusion
reached by the disciplinary board.” Hill, 472
U.S. at 455-56.
reply, Mr. VanCleave contends that he “presented
documentary evidence that clearly showed the medication he
was prescribed, Zantac . . . would cause a false positive for
amphetamine/meth.” Dkt. 12, p. 4. The hearing officer,
Mr. VanCleave contends, “outright rejected” his
evidence. He did this, according to Mr. VanCleave, by having
Mr. VanCleave leave the room while he made a phone call. Mr.
VanCleave asserts that when ...