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Keith v. Superintendent

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

May 26, 2017

PATRICK KEITH, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          ENTRY DISCUSSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the petition of Patrick Keith for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. IYC 16-03-0042. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Keith'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 February 22, 2016, Sergeant Girdler issued a Report of Conduct charging Keith with battery in violation of Code B-212. The Report of Conduct states:

On 2/22/2016 at approximately 1:52 PM I, Sergeant L. Girdler, was in the E and F unit hallway when I clearly observed offender Keith, Patrick (164161/O1-(U) strike Offender Pacheco, Jesse (219182/E2-12L), and offender . . . Slover, Justin (203726/O1-7U) in E-unit day room. I ordered them to stop and they continued to fight. I then called for first responders via radio. I entered E-unit day room and the offenders separated and broke up the fight. I then ordered everyone to their bed area and cleared the day room so we could conduct a [k]nuckle and torso check of all offenders. All 3 offenders were identified and placed in mechanical restraints and escorted to HSU for medical evaluation and RSH for a review period and photographs were taken.

         Keith was notified of the charge on March 8, 2016, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening Officer noted that Keith did not want to call any witnesses or request any evidence. A review of the security video was conducted and a summary was prepared that states:

On the [sic] 3/31/16 at approximately 2:30PM I, DHO J. Peltier reviewed the E Unit Dayroom cameras for an incident that occurred on 2/22/16. After reviewing the camera for a timeframe of 1:50PM to 2:00PM, I clearly observe the following: At 1:51:49, Offenders Pacheco, Jesse #219182, Slover, Justin #203726, and Keith, Patrick #164161 engaged each other in an altercation that continued until 1:52:27, when Sgt. Girdler stopped the altercation.

         The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on April 8, 2016. The Hearing Officer noted Keith's statement, “I was jumped by four guys. I had to defend myself.” Relying on the staff report, the statement of the offender, the photographs, and the video, the Hearing Officer determined that Keith had violated Code B-212. The sanctions imposed included 30 days of commissary, telephone, and JPAY restriction, the deprivation of 90 days of earned credit time, and the demotion from credit class II to class III (suspended). The Hearing Officer imposed the sanctions because of the seriousness, frequency, and nature of the offense, the degree to which the violation disrupted or endangered the security of the facility, and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on the offender's future behavior.

         Keith's appeals were denied and he filed the present petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

         C. Analysis

         Keith challenges the disciplinary action against him arguing that the conduct report supports a fighting charge, but not a battery charge, and that the screening ...


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