United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
matter is before the Court on the Petition under 28 U.S.C.
Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed by Orlando
Branson, a pro se prisoner. For the reasons set forth below,
the petition (ECF 1) is DENIED pursuant to Habeas Corpus Rule
4. The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case. Petitioner is
DENIED leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.
petition, Branson challenges the prison disciplinary hearing
(ISP 16-01-210) where he was found guilty of Possession or
Use of Controlled Substance in violation of Indiana
Department of Correction (IDOC) policy B-202. ECF 1 at 1. The
Conduct Report states:
[d]uring the Investigation of Case 15-ISP-0175 the assault of
Offender Branson, Orlando # 168888, a search of his cell
produced a personal journal written by him, that describes
his illicit drug business selling, buying and dealing with
STG groups to be able to sell Synthetic Marijuana. During an
interview, Offender Branson stated that they robbed him of
his K-2 and that he is a dealer that was the motivation
behind the assault of himself.
hearing was held on February 9, 2016, by the Disciplinary
Hearing Officer (DHO). ECF 1-1 at 3. Branson was sanctioned
with the loss of 30 days earned credit time. Id.
argues that the DHO had insufficient evidence on which to
find him guilty. In the disciplinary context, “the
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). “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
omitted). A Conduct Report alone can be sufficient evidence
to support a finding of guilt. McPherson, 188 F.3d
IDOC defines Possession or Use of Controlled Substance,
offense B-202, as “[p]ossession or use of any
unauthorized substance controlled pursuant to the laws of the
State of Indiana or the United States Code or possession of
drug paraphernalia.” Adult Disciplinary Process,
Appendix I: Offenses.
Indiana State law prohibits possession of any synthetic drug.
IC § 35-48-4-11.5.
had sufficient evidence to determine that Branson had been in
possession of synthetic marijuana in violation of B-202.
Branson was discovered by security staff in his cell with
multiple stab wounds. ECF 1-1 at 5. When interviewed
regarding this incident, “Branson did give confirmation
that he was robbed of his synthetic marijuana.”
Id. A journal was found in his cell that
“documented his illicit drug trafficking business and
dealing with STG groups to be able to sell.”
Id. The DHO reviewed the journal, listened to
Branson's interview with Internal Affairs, reviewed the
Conduct Report, and ultimately determined that Branson was
guilty of violating B-202. In light of this evidence, the
DHO's determination was not arbitrary or unreasonable.
argues that he should have been able to personally review the
Internal Affairs interview and his confiscated journal.
However, “prison disciplinary boards are entitled to
receive, and act on, information that is withheld from the
prisoner and the public . . . .” White v. Ind.
Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 767 (7th Cir. 2001). Branson
had a right to have the evidence reviewed by the DHO - he did
not have the right to personally review all of the evidence
himself. Furthermore, Branson was present during the ...