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McDavid v. Butts

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 1, 2017

KENNETH MCDAVID, Petitioner,
v.
KEITH BUTTS, Respondent.

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

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, United States District Judge.

         The petition of Kenneth McDavid for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding, ISF 15-08-0321, in which he was found guilty of threatening. For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. McDavid's habeas petition must be denied.

         I. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of credit time, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004), 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); Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).

         II. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On August 7, 2015, Lieutenant Criss wrote a Report of Conduct in case ISF 15-08-0321, charging Mr. McDavid with offense B-213, threatening. The conduct report states:

On 8/7/2015 at approx. 1500 PM I Lt. R. Criss while talking to Offender Kenneth McDavid #943202 was informed of the following. He stated that Sgt. Hardee was in his eyes singling him out. He stated that he was going to get away from him if he had to beat the hell out of him on his own. This was stated by Offender McDavid #943202 on 3 separate occasions while I was talking to him. Offender McDavid #943202 was identified by his state ID card and advised of this write up.

Dkt. 11-1.

         On August 13, 2015, Mr. McDavid was notified of the charge of threatening and served with a copy of the Report of Conduct and a copy of the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing “Screening Report.” Mr. McDavid was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. Dkt. 11-2. He requested a lay advocate and one was appointed. Mr. McDavid did not request any physical evidence, but he did request a witness statement from Offender S. Hendricks. Mr. McDavid later waived his requested witness statement, so that statement was not obtained. Id.

         On August 17, 2015, the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) held a disciplinary hearing in case ISF 15-08-0321. Mr. McDavid pleaded not guilty and made the following statement: “I was down at mental health trying to get help from them. I keep having trouble with him and everything. I did say if he comes on to me I will have to protect myself.” Dkt. 11-5. The DHO found Mr. McDavid guilty of offense B-213, threatening, based on the conduct report and Mr. McDavid's statement. Due to the seriousness of the offense and the degree to which it endangered facility security, the DHO imposed the following sanctions: a written reprimand not to threaten anyone, 30 days' lost J-Pay privileges, 60 days' lost earned credit time, and the imposition of a previously suspended demotion from credit class I to credit class II. Id.

         On August 20, 2015, Mr. McDavid appealed to the facility head, arguing only that he had not threatened anyone but had merely relayed a story of the situation, to convey the feelings of fear and insecurity he was experiencing. Dkt. 11-6. Respondent's designee denied the appeal on September 2, 2015. Mr. McDavid then appealed to the final reviewing authority for the Indiana Department of Correction, who denied the appeal on January 12, 2016. Dkt. 11-7. This habeas action followed.

         III. Analysis

         Mr. McDavid argues that his due process rights were violated during the disciplinary proceeding. His claims are that 1) he was not making a threat, but simply telling a story; 2) Lt. Criss, the reporting officer, violated the sanctity of the doctor/patient relationship by invading the office where Mr. McDavid was having a private mental health appointment; 3) there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty; and 4) he was punished for seeking protection from a tormentor and thereby denied his constitutional right to be provided safe, secure housing. Dkt. 1, pp. 2-3.

         Claims 1 and 3 are construed as challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence. Mr. McDavid was charged with and found guilty of offense B-213, threatening, which prohibits, in part, “[c]ommunicating to another person a plan to physically harm, harass or intimidate that person or someone else.” Indiana Dep't of Corr., Adult ...


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