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Robertson v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

April 28, 2017

DAVID ROBERTSON, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         David Robertson, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing (WCC 16-11-252) where a disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) found him guilty of Assault/Battery in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy A-102. (ECF 1 at 1.) As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 180 days earned credit time and was demoted from Credit Class 2 to Credit Class 3. (Id.) Robertson identifies three grounds in his petition.

         In Ground One, Robertson argues that the DHO was not provided with a complete account of events by the correctional officer who wrote the Conduct Report. (ECF 2 at 2.) According to Robertson, the Conduct Report did not provide a complete recitation of the facts, and instead reported only the officer's point of view. (Id.) Robertson also asserts that there was an internal affairs investigation and fifteen inmate witnesses gave statements. (Id.) He does not identify what these witnesses reported, or whether the evidence would have been exculpatory. Finally, in Ground One, Robertson admits that he was fighting, and argues that his charge should have been for Fighting, a lesser offense. (Id.)

         Ground One does not identify any due process violation. Robertson could have raised facts not contained in the Conduct Report (i) during his hearing; (ii) through his lay advocate; (iii) by calling witnesses; or (iv) by presenting evidence. (ECF 2-1 at 2.) Robertson was provided with notice of the disciplinary hearing and the charges, but declined the opportunity to call any witnesses, present any evidence, or accept the offer of a lay advocate. (Id.) Robertson's due process rights were adequately protected by the procedural safeguards afforded to him pursuant to Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 556 (1974). That he declined to invoke these rights, and was subsequently found guilty, is not a basis for habeas corpus relief. Therefore, Ground One is denied.[1]

         In Ground Two, Robertson challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on which he was found guilty. (ECF 2 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 omitted). 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).

         An inmate violates IDOC A-102 by “[c]omitting battery/assault upon another person with a weapon (including the throwing of body fluids or waste on another person) or inflicting serious bodily injury.” Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I. http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02- 04-101 APPENDIX I-OFFENSES 6-1-2015(1).pdf. The IDOC defines “serious bodily injury” as:

[a]n injury to a person that requires urgent and immediate medical treatment (normally more extensive than mere first aid, such as bandaging a wound; but which might include stitches, setting of broken bones, treatment of concussion, etc.) and/or that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes:
• Serious permanent disfigurement;
• Unconsciousness;
• Extreme pain;
• Permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily ...

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