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Jones v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

May 12, 2017

DEMETRIUS JONES, Petitioner,
v.
BRYAN SMITH, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA

         The petition of Demetrius Jones for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. RDC 16-09-0014. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Jones's habeas petition must be denied.

         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 September 10, 2016, Sergeant Tooley wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr. Jones with battery in violation of Code B-212. The Conduct Report states:

On 9/10/2016 at 4:20 a.m. while review of the camera footage of the Unit 6 restroom entrance on 9/9/2016 at 21:40, Offender Demetrius Jones assisted other Offenders in assaulting Offender Rodger-Potter IDOC # 185338. Offender Jones did this by preventing Offender Potter from leaving the restroom by grabbing a hold of him and pushing him back into the restroom.

         Filing No. 8-1 at 1. Officer Truex also completed an incident report, which states:

While reviewing camera footage from an assault in housing unit 6 on 9/9/2016, I witnessed offender Demetrius Jones, IDOC#108651, pulled offender Richard Rodgers-Potter, IDOC# 185338 back into the restroom. Rodgers-Potter was attempting to escape two offenders who were attacking him in the restroom as Jones pulled him back into the assault. Upon further review camera footage shows Jones shove Rodgers-Potter into the two offenders who assaulted him, prior to the assault. These offenders were identified Tevin Orr, IDOC#233973, and Anthony Heard, IDOC# 200677.

Filing No. 8-2 at 1. Although the incident occurred at Heritage Trails Correctional Facility (“HTCF”), the Conduct Report was written the next day when Mr. Jones had been transferred to the Reception Diagnostic Center (“RDC”). Filing No. 8-4 at 1.

         Mr. Jones was notified of the charge on September 12, 2016, when he received the Screening Report on the incident. He plead not guilty to the charge, requested a lay advocate, requested the victim as a witness, did not request any physical evidence, and waived twenty-four notice of the hearing. Filing No. 8-5 at 1.

         A hearing was held on September 15, 2016. After reviewing the Staff Reports, Mr. Jones's statement that he did not assault the victim, and the video evidence, the hearing officer changed the charge from battery to aiding an assault and found Mr. Jones guilty of that offense. The hearing officer stated that “Jones did not assault the offender but did hold him up (stop him) when [the offender was] trying to escape.” Filing No. 8-7 at 1. Mr. Jones's sanctions included a sixty-day earned-credit-time deprivation and a suspended credit-class demotion.

         Mr. Jones appealed to Facility Head and to the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority, and as discussed further below, both of his appeals were denied. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. ...


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