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Bowling v. Superintendant Plainfield Correctional Facility

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

April 28, 2017

STEVEN B. BOWLING, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDANT Plainfield Correctional Facility, Respondent.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         The petition of Steven B. Bowling for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. IYC15-04-0131, in which he was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Bowling's habeas petition must be denied.

         Discussion

         A. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004) (per curiam), or of credit-earning class, Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641, 644-45 (7th Cir. 2001), without due process. 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).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On April 7, 2015, Sergeant Z. Williams wrote a Report of Conduct that charged Bowling with violating offense 202-B, Possession of a Controlled Substance. The Conduct Report states:

On 4-7-2015 at approximately 5:58 PM I, Sergeant Z. Williams, was walking toward the south split just in front of South Dorm when I observed a blue piece of folded up commissary paper fall out of a glove on to the walk. Offender Bowling, Steven #113869 (G1-8L) was holding the glove when I observed the commissary paper fall onto the ground. No other offenders were in the area at the camera time. I immediately secured the piece of paper in my left pocket and advised Offender Bowling to hand me his gloves. I then searched both pair of gloves discovering no further contraband [“Jolly Rancher” is written over “no further contraband”]. I then opened the piece of blue commissary paper and located inside was a grayish white powdery substance. Offender Bowling was questioned about the grayish white substance and said, “Williams I just picked that up off the walk in front of the school.” “I didn't even know what it was.” Offender Bowling was then advised that he would be receiving a Report of Conduct

Dkt. 1-1, p. 1 (Exhibit A). A picture was taken of the Evidence Record, commissary paper, and drug test result showing the substance tested positive for amphetamines. See dkt. 8-2 at p.1. The test is a NIK® test (see http://www.alternateforce.net/nik-drug-test-kit.html).

         On April 8, 2015, Bowling was notified of the charge of Possession or Use of a Controlled Substance when he was served with the Conduct Report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. Bowling was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He requested a lay advocate and listed three offenders he wanted to call as witnesses. The part of the form where Bowling requested physical evidence is hard to read, but it appears he wanted video review and drug test results.

         Offender Derek Linville provided a written statement that said “as I was walking back to the dorm from chow I saw Sgt. Williams take a piece of candy out of offender Bowling's gloves”. Dkt. 8-4. Offender Zachary Gootee's written statement states, “I was coming back from chow towards Central turned left at the South dorm [unintelligible] Sgt. Williams ask [unintelligible] for his glove, he shook the glove and out and a piece of candy or something fell out.” Dkt. 8-5. Offender Derrick Walker's written statement said that he, Walker, was the one who had possession of the controlled substance, Bowling had nothing to do with it, but just dropped it. Dkt. 8-6.

         The hearing officer reviewed the requested video and wrote a summary that said the incident did not appear on the video and may have taken place out of the view of the camera. In addition there was not another camera to be reviewed in the area. Dkt. 8-7.

         The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in IYC15-04-0131 on April 29, 2015. Bowling's comment was “Not Guilty - Sgt. Williams is mistaken. I do carry candy in my gloves. I'm a wheelchair pusher, I don't use drugs. There were other offenders present. Another offender stopped me a few days later and said that the ‘stuff' was actually his” Dkt. 8-8. The hearing officer found Bowling guilty of class B offense 202, Possession or Use of Controlled Substance “DHO reviewed all evidence, conduct report, video review, NIK test, photos, C.F., offender's statement and his requested witness statements and found Bowling 113869 guilty of a 202B.” Dkt. 8-8. “C.F.” may have referred to the commissary forms.

         The hearing officer recommended and approved the following sanctions: restitution of $5.00 for the NIK test, 90-day deprivation of earned credit time, and a demotion ...


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