United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
LOZANO, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on the Petition under 28 U.S.C.
Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed by Ralphfel
Bell, a pro se prisoner. For the reasons set forth
below, the petition (ECF 1) is DENIED. The clerk is DIRECTED
to close this case.
petition, Bell challenges the prison disciplinary hearing
(ISP 16-01-106) where he was found guilty of possession
and/or use of a cell phone in violation of A-121 by the
Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO). ECF 1 at 1. Bell was
sanctioned with the loss of 90 days earned credit time and
was demoted from Credit Class 2 to Credit Class 3.
Id. While Bell asserts three grounds in his
petition, each of the grounds in his petition challenges the
sufficiency of the evidence.
Conduct Report charges:
[o]n 1/11/16 at approx. 0830 2 phones and a USB wall charger
and cord were found hidden in a cracker box at the back of
the range in a empty trash bag tied to the railing. With the
tools available to this office of Investigations and
Intelligence the phone was able to be accessed. On the phone
were photos of Offender Bell, messages and voice recordings
that all identified the phone to belong to Offender Bell,
Ralphfel # 998078. The Face Book Page that was on the phone
was Offender Bell, Raphfel (sic) identified by him by name.
ECF 1-1 at 1.
has not filed a traverse to Respondent's return to the
order to show cause, nor has he sought additional time to do
so. He is now several months past his deadline to file a
traverse, and therefore, this case is deemed fully briefed.
prisoners lose earned time credits in a prison disciplinary
hearing, they are entitled to certain protections under the
Due Process Clause: (1) advance written notice of the
charges; (2) an opportunity to be heard before an impartial
decision maker; (3) an opportunity to call witnesses and
present documentary evidence in their defense when consistent
with institutional safety and correctional goals; and (4) a
written statement by a fact finder of evidence relied on and
the reasons for the disciplinary action. Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563 (1974). To satisfy due
process, there must also be “some evidence” to
support the hearing officer's decision.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S.
445, 455 (1985).
argues that the DHO did not have sufficient evidence to find
him guilty because he was not in physical possession of the
cell phone at the time it was discovered. ECF 1 at 2. He
claims that the phone was discovered in a trash bag in a
common area, and that at the time of its discovery he was in
a different part of the prison. Id. Bell also argues
that there were photographs of four other inmates on the
phone, and therefore it is impossible to determine the true
owner of the phone. Id. Respondent, on the other
hand, contends that there was sufficient evidence for the DHO
to find Bell guilty. Respondent points to the text messages
and photographs connecting Bell to the phone as “some
evidence” that Bell used or possessed the phone. ECF 8
at 8. The court agrees.
evaluating whether there is adequate evidence to support the
findings of a prison disciplinary hearing, “the
relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the
record that could support the conclusion reached by the
disciplinary board.” Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56.
Even a conduct report alone can provide evidence sufficient
to support the finding of guilt. McPherson v.
McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999).
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