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Paulk v. Superintendent

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

May 25, 2017

DANTE PAULK, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the court on the consent of both parties. ECF 13. Dante Paulk, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging WCC 15-10-13, a prison disciplinary proceeding where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty of attempting to traffic contraband in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy A-111 and A-113. ECF 2 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 30 days earned credit time. Id. While Paulk lists three grounds in his petition, his claims all challenge the sufficiency of the evidence used to find him guilty.

         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).

The 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).

         IDOC A-111 prohibits an inmate from “[a]ttempting or conspiring or aiding and abetting with another to commit any Class A offense.” Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I: Offenses. http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02-04-101APPENDIXI-OFFENSES6-1-2015(1).pdf. IDOC A-113 prohibits an inmate from “[e]ngaging in trafficking (as defined in IC 35-44.1-3-5) with anyone who is not an offender residing in the same facility.” Id. Indiana law 35-44.1-3-5 defines the offense of trafficking as:

(b) A person who, without the prior authorization of the person in charge of a penal facility or juvenile facility, knowingly or intentionally:
(1) delivers, or carries into the penal facility or juvenile facility with intent to deliver, an article to an inmate or child of the facility;
(2) carries, or receives with intent to carry out of the penal facility or juvenile facility, an article from an inmate or child of the facility; or
(3) delivers, or carries to a worksite with the intent to deliver, alcoholic beverages to an inmate or child of a jail work crew or community work crew…

IC § 35-44.1-3-5 (West).

         Here, the Conduct Report charged Paulk as follows:

On the above date and time Offender Paulk, Dante # 159315 was at work at DNR Tree Nursery when after using the restroom, DNR Officer Braun, Beulah checked the restroom and found 3 bags of brown leafy substance, 116 oz bag of brown leafy substance in the area Offender D. Paulk was at, plus Offender D. Paulk was the only worker at the site.

ECF 8-1 at 1. The property manager of the nursery submitted the following memorandum ...


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