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Paolucci v. Superintendent of New Castle Correctional Facility

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

June 20, 2017



          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, United States District Court Chief Judge

         The petition of Derek Paolucci for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. NCN-16-11-012. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Paolucci's habeas petition must be granted.


         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 the evening of August 24, 2016, Paolucci, who suffers from fecal incontinence, unexpectedly defecated on himself. He removed his soiled clothing and placed it in a plastic bag, stood in front of his cell door, and showed his back side to Officer Glaser in an attempt to prove to Glaser that he needed a shower. Glaser directed him to turn around, looked down, and said, “All I see is that.” Paolucci believed Glaser to be referring to his penis and felt harassed by Glaser's statement. He therefore filed a PREA report regarding the incident. Compliance Coordinator K. Wigal, who investigated the incident, interviewed both Paolucci and his cellmate. In his interview report with Paolucci, Wigal stated that “Paolucci said at the time Glaser made the comment he received it as being sexual in nature but after discussing the incident with IA he now considered it possible it was not a sexually harassing, demeaning comment.” Paolucci's cellmate stated during his interview that he observed Glaser point downwards toward Paolucci and say “All I see is that.” Wigal ultimately found Paolucci's allegation of harassment to be unfounded.

         On November 16, 2016, Wigal issued a Report of Conduct charging Paolucci with threatening (false accusation) in violation of Code B-213. The Report of Conduct states:

On 11/16/16 at approximately 0700, I Compliance Coordinator K Wigal was conducting a routine “Notification of Outcome of Allegation” following the conclusion into the investigation of the allegation of Sexual Harassment filed by Offender Paolucci, Derek #171384 against Officer Glaser. The investigation outcome was that the allegation was unfounded, meaning that the investigation determined that the event described in the allegation did not occur and thus, Offender Paolucci had filed a false report that resulted in an investigation being completed. Offender Paolucci was informed he would be receiving this conduct report.

         Paolucci was notified of the charge on November 17, 2016, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening Officer noted that Paolucci requested statements from two “original” witnesses and noted that Paolucci would bring paperwork.

         The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on November 29, 2016. The Hearing Officer noted Paolucci's statement, “I filed an informal complaint about this. The officer did make me feel harassed. I did not feel that it was untrue.” Based on the evidence, the Hearing Officer determined that Paolucci had violated Code B-213. The sanctions imposed included a commissary and phone restriction, the deprivation of 90 days of earned credit time, and the demotion from credit class I to credit class II.

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

         C. Analysis

         Paolucci challenges the disciplinary action against him arguing that he was denied an impartial decision-maker, that he was denied witnesses and evidence, that his First Amendment rights were violated, and that there was not “some” evidence to sustain the disciplinary conviction. Because the Court agrees with Paolucci that there was not “some” evidence to ...

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