United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
LOZANO, Judge United State District Court
matter is before the Court on a Petition under 28 U.S.C.
Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a person in State
Custody Seeking Review of a Prison Disciplinary Sanction,
filed by Ramar Daniels, a pro se prisoner, on April
11, 2016. Here, Daniels challenges a disciplinary
determination made by a hearing officer at the Westville
Correctional Facility (“Westville”) under case
number WCC 16-01-0234. For the reasons set forth below, the
court DENIES the petition (DE 1). The Clerk
is DIRECTED to close this case.
January 12, 2016, Lt. D. Moynihan prepared a conduct report
charging Daniels with Offense B-212 assault/battery. (DE
18-1.) The conduct report stated:
On 1/12/16 at 5:39 pm offender Daniels, Ramar was seen
assaulting offender Harris, Shantae #248468 with closed
fists. This was seen via CCTV.
January 14, 2016, Daniels was notified of the charge of
assault/battery and served with a copy of the conduct report
and the screening report. (DE 18-2.) The screening report
reflects that he pled not guilty and requested a lay
advocate. He did not request any physical evidence. He
requested the person he assaulted as a witness, but the
screening officer apparently denied that request because
Daniels could not provide the name of the offender.
October 23, 2015, a disciplinary hearing took place and the
hearing officer and found Daniels guilty of the charge of
assault/battery. (DE 18-4.) At the hearing, Daniels's
comment was, “I believe this was fighting, not
assault.” (Id.) Daniels appealed to the
Superintendent and Final Reviewing Authority, but those
appeals were denied. (DE 18-5; 18-6.)
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).
Daniels raises four claims in his petition: (1) there was
insufficient evidence to support the charge; (2) the video of
the altercation was not reviewed; (3) he was denied a witness
statement; and (4) he did not receive a copy of the conduct
report or screening report.
Daniels claims there was insufficient evidence to find him
guilty of assault/battery. In reviewing a disciplinary
determination for sufficiency of the 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.” McPherson v. McBride,
188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999). “[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). The court will overturn the hearing
officer's decision only if “no reasonable
adjudicator could have found [the prisoner] guilty of the
offense on the basis of the evidence presented.”
Henderson v. United States Parole Comm'n, 13
F.3d 1073, 1077 (7th Cir. 1994). Additionally, a hearing
officer is permitted to rely on circumstantial evidence to
establish guilt. See Hamilton v. O'Leary, 976
F.2d 341, 345 (7th Cir. 1992).
B-212 assault/battery is defined as “committing a
battery/assault upon another person without a weapon or
inflicting bodily injury. (DE 18 at 10.) (Citing the Adult
Disciplinary Process for Offenses within the Indiana
Department of Corrections). In this case, it is clear that
the record contains “some evidence” to support
the hearing officer's determination that Daniels was
guilty of assault/battery. The conduct report is some
evidence that Daniels assaulted/battered another inmate.
McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (conduct
report alone provided some evidence to support disciplinary
determination). The conduct report reveals that Lt. Moynihan
was watching CCTV (close circuit television) and saw Daniels
assaulting another offender with closed fists. In addition,
at the disciplinary hearing, Daniels effectively admits to
hitting the other offender by claiming that it was
“fighting not assault.” 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
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 ...