United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge.
Hale, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a prison disciplinary hearing (ISP
15-08-0019) that was held at the Indiana State Prison on
August 14, 2015. The Disciplinary Hearing Body (DHB) found
him guilty of Battery in violation of B-212 and sanctioned
him with the loss of phone and commissary privileges, $25
restitution, 60 days of disciplinary segregation, loss of 60
days earned credit time and demoted him to Credit Class 3.
The charges were initiated when Sergeant W. Springfield wrote
a conduct report stating:
On 8/3/15 @ approx. 4:35 PM during CCH chow lines, I Sgt. W.
Springfield witnessed offender Hale 884687 fighting with
offender Washington 197749 on Main Street in front of ACH. I
Sgt. W. Springfield called a 10-10 then proceeded to stop the
two offenders from fighting. I gave the offenders an order to
stop fighting, they did not stop[.] I then applied a 1 second
burst of my chemical agent. The two offenders then stopped
fighting[.] At that time they were both cuffed. This report
screening report reflects that Hale was notified of the
offense on August 6, 2015, and pled not guilty, and did not
request any witnesses or physical evidence. (DE 11-2.) A
summary of the security video was prepared, which states,
“At approx. 4:30pm, offender[s] are walking down the
main street. At approx. 4:35pm offender Hale and offender
Washington are walking side by side up main street talking.
Offender Hale then hits offender Washington, and they begin
fighting while on main street.” (DE 11-4.) A
disciplinary hearing was conducted on August 14, 2015, where
the hearing officer took Hale's statement, “He has
been harassing me since I've been here. He comes by my
cell, and looks in. He asks me if I'm selling anything.
He aggravates me.” (DE 11-7.) After considering the
evidence, the hearing officer found Hale guilty.
(Id.) Hale's appeals to the facility head and
the final reviewing authority were denied. (DE 11-8, 11-9.)
Hale raises four claims in his petition: (1) he challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence against him; (2) he was
denied an impartial hearing officer; and (3) his contact
visits were taken away; and (4) restitution was imposed
without sufficient notice.
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).
Hale argues the evidence is insufficient to support a battery
charge. “[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.” Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649,
652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
Even a Conduct Report alone can be sufficient evidence to
support a finding of guilt. McPherson v. McBride,
188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999). Here the Conduct Report
and the Video Review Form are some evidence that Hale is
guilty of battery.
argues that this is inadequate to find him guilty of Battery
because it shows that he and the other offender were both
fighting. Perhaps he thinks that a battery has to be a
one-way activity and that it cannot be done by two people to
each other. If so, this is incorrect. Two people can batter
each other at the same time. Alternatively, perhaps he is
arguing that he was acting in self-defense. However,
inmates do not have a constitutional right to raise
self-defense as a defense in the context of prison
disciplinary proceedings. As such, the [DHB] was under no
constitutional obligation to allow [the] claim that he was
merely defending himself to serve as a complete defense to
the charge of assault.
Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 848 (7th Cir. 2011)
(citation omitted). Both the Conduct Report and the video
show that he battered the other inmate. Again, there is more
than sufficient evidence to have found him guilty of battery.
Hale complains that he was denied an impartial hearing
officer. In the prison disciplinary context, adjudicators are
“entitled to a presumption of honesty and integrity,
” and “the constitutional standard for improper
bias is high.” Piggie, 342 F.3d at 666. Due
process prohibits a prison official who was personally and
substantially involved in the underlying incident from acting
as a decision-maker in the case. Id. However, due
process is not violated simply because the hearing officer
knew the inmate, presided over a prior disciplinary case, or
had some limited involvement in the event underlying the
charge. Id. Here, Hale does not clearly explain why
he believes the hearing officer was biased, but there is no
indication that he was involved in any way in the events
underlying the charge. Hale appears to believe the hearing
officer was impartial because the officer ruled against him
and did not notify him at the hearing that there may be
restitution ordered due to an injury suffered by the other
inmate. But adverse rulings alone do not establish
impermissible bias. Liteky v. United States, 510
U.S. 540, 555-56 (1994).
Hale complains that contact visits were taken away from him.
He argues that this punishment is unconstitutional because it
is unrelated to the battery. However, “[t]he denial of
prison access to a particular visitor is well within the
terms of confinement ordinarily contemplated by a prison
sentence, and therefore is not independently protected by the
Due Process Clause.” Kentucky Dep't of Corr. v.
Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 461 (1989) (quotation marks and
citation omitted). Because Hale had no right to due process
before his visitation was restricted, doing so after he was
afforded a hearing is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Hale complains that he was not told about having to pay
restitution during the disciplinary hearing. He does not
dispute the amount of the restitution, he merely argues that
he should not have been ordered to pay it. However, habeas
corpus relief is not available for restitution because
“[s]ection 2254 is the appropriate remedy only when the
prisoner attacks the fact or duration of
‘custody.'” Sylvester v. Hanks, 140
F.3d 713, 714 (7th Cir. 1998). See also Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 487, (1995) (distinguishing
between a prison disciplinary sanction that will inevitably