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Nelson v. Zatecky

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

May 30, 2017

DAMON NELSON, Petitioner,
v.
DUSHAN ZATECKY, Respondent.

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

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         The petition of Damon Nelson for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR 16-09-0098. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Nelson'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 26, 2016, Investigator Poer wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr. Nelson with assault on staff in violation of Code A-117. The Conduct Report states:

On 9/21/16 at 5:51 PM Officer N. Coffey responded to an emergency on the 2/4 Range of B Unit. On camera Officer N. Coffey can be seen attempting to assist Sgt. Gaunt restrain an offender at the 2/4 range entry steps. At 5:52 PM Ofc. N. Coffey is bent over looking at the offender on the floor when offender Nelson, Damon 937004 5B-2B steps across the day room and punches Officer N. Coffey in the left side of his face with his right fist. Ofc. N. Coffey goes back into the control area to get away from the assault from offender Nelson. Offender Nelson follows Officer N. Coffey into the control area continuously throwing punches at Officer N. Coffey's face and head. Offender Nelson knocks Officer N. Coffey to the ground and continues to stand over him and punch him repeatedly.

Filing No. 12-1 at 1.

         Mr. Nelson was notified of the charge when he received the Screening Report. He plead not guilty to the charge, requested as a witness the offender that was being restrained, and requested the video footage as evidence.

         A hearing was held on October 13, 2016. Based on the staff reports, Mr. Nelson's statement, and the video review, the hearing officer found Mr. Nelson guilty of assault on staff. The hearing officer recommended and approved sanctions including a one-hundred-day earned-credit-time deprivation and a two-level credit-class demotion.

         Mr. Nelson appealed to Facility Head and the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority, but 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. Analysis

         Mr. Nelson raises two issues in his habeas petition. The Court will address each in turn.

         1. Sufficiency ...


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