United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Elmore, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition
challenging the prison disciplinary hearing (IYC 15-09-0220)
where a disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) found him guilty
of Rioting, in violation of A-103. (ECF 1 at 1.) As a result,
he was sanctioned with the loss of 360 days earned credit
time and was demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 3.
Elmore identifies two grounds in his petition.
Ground One, Elmore argues that “the Conduct Report does
not fit the charge of Rioting, a Class A-103.” (ECF 1-1
at 3.) Elmore claims that there was not sufficient evidence
to find him guilty of A-103, and instead he should have been
charged with B-212, Assault/Battery. (ECF 1-1 at 2.) The
imposition of prison discipline will be upheld so long as
there is some evidence to support the finding.
Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455-56 (1985).
“[T]he relevant question is whether there is any
evidence in the record that could support the conclusion
reached by the disciplinary board.” Id.
“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.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d
784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (quotation marks omitted).
[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. Even meager proof will suffice, so long as the
record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings of the
disciplinary board were without support or otherwise
arbitrary. Although some evidence is not much, it still must
point to the accused's guilt. It is not our province to
assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the
disciplinary board's decision.
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000)
(quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis
the DHO had sufficient evidence on which to find Elmore
guilty of A-103. The Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC)
defines the A-103 offense as follows:
Encouraging, directing, commanding, coercing or signaling one
or more other persons to participate in a disturbance to
facility order caused by a group of two (2) or more offenders
which creates a risk of injury to persons or property or
participating in such a disturbance or remaining in a group
where some members of the group are participating in such a
Disciplinary Process, Appendix I.
The Conduct Report charges Elmore as being a participant in a
violent altercation that spanned the course of two hours.
(ECF 1-1 at 6.) The Conduct Report states that “several
offenders were engaged in multiple assaults that included
weapons to include prison shanks, broom sticks, trash cans
and chairs.” Id. The Conduct Report notes that
“the level of extreme violence” resulted in
offenders with “broken bones, stab wounds, lacerations
and abrasions.” Id. The Conduct Report
identifies Elmore as one of the “active
participants” in the altercation. Id.
Furthermore, Elmore is captured on video hitting another
inmate with closed fists in the head and face. (ECF 1-1 at
9.) The evidence from the Conduct Report and video recording
were sufficient for the DHO to determine that Elmore was
guilty of “participating” in “a disturbance
to facility order caused by a group of two (2) or more
offenders which creates a risk of injury to persons or
property” in violation of A-103.
also asserts that he should not have been found guilty
because the offender he punched “gave a written
statement on behalf of petitioner stating that they were
horse playing.” (ECF 1-1 at 2.) However, it is not the
province of this court to re-weigh the evidence considered by
the DHO. See Hill, 472 U.S. at 455. It was not
arbitrary or unreasonable for the DHO to decline to credit
the statement by the assaulted offender. Ground One is
therefore not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Ground Two, Elmore argues that his demotion from Credit Class
1 to Credit Class 3 exceeded the maximum allowable sanction
pursuant to IDOC policy. The harshness of the punishment
imposed is not a valid basis for challenging a DHO's
decision, so long as the punishment is within the range
designated for the offense. Cf. United States ex rel.
Long v. Pate, 418 F.2d 1028, 1031 (7th Cir. 1970) (where
a sentence is “within the range established by the
legislature … this court will not [on habeas corpus
review] question the trial judge's discretion in imposing
sentence …”). Here, IDOC policy states,
“[o]ffenders found guilty of certain egregious Class A
offenses (Codes…103…) shall be subject to
sanctions of up to a three (3)-step demotion in Credit Class
with justification by the Hearing Officer.”
Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders.
Elmore was found guilty of A-103 and was sanctioned with a
two-step demotion in Credit Class. The DHO sentenced Elmore
within the appropriate guidelines. Therefore Elmore is not
entitled to habeas corpus relief based on Ground Two.
Elmore wants to appeal this decision, he does not need a
certificate of appealability because he is challenging a
prison disciplinary proceeding. See Evans v. Circuit
Court, 569 F.3d 665, 666 (7th Cir. 2009). However, he
may not proceed in forma pauperis on appeal because the court
finds pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that an appeal
in this case could not be taken in good faith.
these reasons, the habeas corpus petition is DENIED. The
clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment and close this case.
Kevin Elmore is DENIED ...