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Herron v. Superintendent

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

June 8, 2017

JAMES HERRON, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Philip P. Simon Judge United States District Court

         James Herron, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing in which a Disciplinary Hearing Officer found him guilty of conspiring to traffic contraband in violation of Indiana Department of Correction policies. [ECF 1 at 1.] As a result, Herron was sanctioned with the loss of 100 days earned credit time and was demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 2. [Id.] Herron's petition identifies three grounds for relief.

         In Ground One, Herron argues that the hearing officer had insufficient evidence on which to find him guilty. [ECF 1 at 2.] In the disciplinary context, "the relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary board." Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455-56 (1985). "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). In short, the standard for sufficiency of the evidence in the context of prison disciplinary matters is an exceedingly modest one. Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis omitted). In fact, a Conduct Report alone can be sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt. McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786.

         Herron was charged with violations of IDOC A-111 and A-113. [ECF 6-1 at 1.] IDOC A-111 penalizes “[a]ttempting or aiding and abetting with another to commit any Class A offense.” Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I. http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02-04-101APPENDIXI-OFFENSES6-1-2015(1).pdf. IDOC A-113 prohibits inmates 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 Code 35-44.1-3-5 gives this definition of trafficking:

(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).

         The Conduct Report charged Herron as follows:

On 6/3/15 I began investigating the above offender for possible Trafficking. Information was gathered from phone calls between the Herron (sic) and his girlfriend Alicia Stout, indicating she was making contraband drops for Herron at Minimum Housing.
On 5/22/15 Herron received conduct after be (sic) found in possession of tobacco. Information from phone calls prior to this incident, indicated Alicia was to get an item ready to bring when she came to visit.
On 6/3/15 information was gathered from phone calls in which Herron asks Alicia to “make it smaller, ” “take them out of the thing to make it smaller” and that he wanted to “make sure she got out of here alright.” Other language used during the calls supported the allegation that Alicia had dropped contraband off. Additional calls on 6/3/15 indicated that Alicia was on MCA grounds to make drop, but there were too many people around.
Phone calls were continued to be monitored over the next several days. Information was gathered that Herron and Alicia were attempting a new way to get contraband into the facility. They discussed “mailing” the stuff, that it was a safer way, and others had done it before. Herron told Alicia to mark the box with “stars” and to ...

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