United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
petition of Zao Burrell (“Burrell”) for a writ of
habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding
identified as No. NCN 15-10-0043. For the reasons explained
in this entry, Burrell's habeas petition must be denied.
in Indiana custody may not be deprived of credit-earning
class without due process. Montgomery v. Anderson,
262 F.3d 641, 644-45 (7th Cir. 2001). The due process
requirement is satisfied with the issuance of advance written
notice of the charges, a limited opportunity to present
evidence to an impartial decision maker, a written statement
articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the
evidence justifying it, and “some evidence in the
record” to support the 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); 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
October 15, 2015, Correctional Sargent J. Lawson wrote a
Report of Conduct in case NCN 15-10-0043 charging Burrell
with Class B offense 207, Possession of an Electronic Device.
The Conduct Report states:
On the above date [10/15/2015] at approximately 1830 I Sgt.
J. Lawson was assisting Officer N. Gaddis and Officer J. New
with nightly cell searches. Upon arriving at cell 04-211 Ofc.
Gaddis advised both offenders to come to the door. Off.
Burrell was sitting on the top bunk at this time. Off.
Burrell continued messing with something on the top shelf
that was directly next to him. I could hear the sound of
metal on metal hitting while he was messing around on the
shelf. Off. Burrell then got down off of the bed and gave
something to his cell mate who was sitting on the toilet. His
cell mate immediately flushed the toilet. Both Offenders were
removed from the cell and a search of the cell was conducted.
Upon looking on the top shelf I noticed the wall outlet for
the cable cord to plug into was off of the wall and sitting
on the top shelf. I looked inside of the outlet box and
noticed a plastic bag stuffed on the left side of the box.
Upon inspecting the contents of the baggy I confirmed that it
contained two ends to cell phone chargers. It was short wire
with just the plug that plugs into the cell phone. Off.
Burrell was advised that he would be receiving a conduct
October 15, 2015, Burrell was notified of the charge and was
given a copy of the conduct report and the Notice of
Disciplinary Hearing “Screening Report.” He was
notified of his rights and pled not guilty. Burrell did not
request a lay advocate, but did request Offender Thomas as a
witness. Burrell did not request any evidence. [Dkt. 8-2].
disciplinary hearing in case NCN 15-10-0043 was held on
October 16, 2015, and the Hearing Officer found Burrell
guilty of the charge of possession of an electronic device.
In making this determination, the Hearing Officer considered
the staff reports, the offender's statement, photo
evidence, and evidence from witnesses. Based on the Hearing
Officer's recommendations the following sanctions were
imposed: thirty (30) days of disciplinary segregation,
suspended; thirty (30) days of lost commissary and phone
privileges; and a demotion from credit class 1 to credit
class 2. The Hearing Officer recommended the sanctions
because of seriousness of the offense, the offender's
attitude and demeanor during the hearing, and the degree to
which the violation disputed/endangered the security of the
facility. [Dkt. 8-3].
appealed the disciplinary proceeding through the
administrative process. His appeals were denied. He now seeks
relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 arguing that his due
process rights were violated.
is not entitled to habeas relief because he was afforded due
process. He asserts the following claims: 1) the evidence was
insufficient to support a guilty finding; 2) he was denied an
impartial decision maker; 3) he was denied the right to call
a witness; 4) he was denied the right to exculpatory
evidence; and 5) the written findings were inadequate.
claim one, Burrell challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence. Specifically, he argues the evidence was
insufficient because the hearing officer failed to call his
witness, consider witness testimony, and maintain the chain
of custody. The “some evidence” standard is
lenient, “requiring only that the decision not be
arbitrary or without support in the record.”
McPherson v. McBride,188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir.
1999). A conduct report alone ...