United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. SIMON, JUDGE
Merritt, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing where a
Disciplinary Hearing Officer found him guilty of creating
counterfeit documents in violation of Indiana Department of
Correction policy. ECF 1 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned
with the loss of 90 days earned credit time and was demoted
from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 2. Id.
argues that the hearing officer did not have sufficient
evidence to find him guilty. 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).
[T]he findings of a prison disciplinary board [need only]
have the support of some evidence in the record. This is a
lenient standard, requiring no more than a modicum of
evidence. Even meager proof will suffice, so long as the
record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings of the
disciplinary board were without support or otherwise
arbitrary. Although some evidence is not much, it still must
point to the accused's guilt. It is not our province to
assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the
disciplinary board's decision.
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000)
(quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis
a violation for an inmate to engage in
“[c]ounterfeiting, forging, or unauthorized
reproduction or possession of any document, article,
identification, money, passes, security or official
paper.” Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I:
Conduct Report charged Merritt as follows:
On 09/01/2016, I, Casework Manager K. Miller was given back
three request slips in the RHU mailbox in the mailroom. The
remittance slips were sent through night mail and had my
signature on the remittance slips. This offender did not hand
these remittance slips directly to me, which would not allow
the remittance slips to get signed by me. After comparing
another remittance slip that has been signed by me, it was
noted that Offender Merritt- 194553- R506 signed my signature
in blue ink. The blue ink from the pen was found under
Offender Merritt's Bunk in RHU 506. Both the ink and the
blue pen were confiscated, along with the remittance slips
that were pre-signed.
ECF 9-1 at 1.
officer who searched Merritt's cell, Officer Isaac, also
submitted a statement:
On September 1st 2016 at approximately 0935 I, C/O J. Isaac,
was working in RHU. While escorting offenders to outside
recreation I removed offender Merritt, Omar DOC 194553 from
cell R-505, to the outside rec cage. I then began to conduct
routine cell searches. Upon entering offender Merritts cell I
noticed that there was a blue pen body on the table. I then
located the blue ink cartridge taped to the underside of his
ECF 9-1 at 3. The hearing officer was also provided with
copies of the forged and authentic remittance slips for
comparison. ECF 9-1 at 4.
hearing officer had sufficient evidence to find Merritt
guilty of creating a counterfeit. He was provided with
evidence by the employee whose signature was forged that the
signature did not belong to her, and that Merritt had never
provided her with the remittance slips for her signature. A
comparison between the two signatures supports a finding that
one of the signatures was forged. See ECF 9-1 at 4.
The forged signature was signed in blue ink. A blue ink pen
cartridge was discovered concealed in Merritt's cell.
Moreover, Merritt does not contest that he wrote and signed
the remittance slips. Thus, there is “some
evidence” to support the finding of guilt.
also challenges the credibility of the evidence. Merritt
claims that Officer Isaac could not have found the pen under
his bed because his bed is “just one big block of
stone” and nothing can be placed under the bed. ECF 1
at 4. He also challenges the fact that Officer Isaac's
witness statement claimed that he discovered the blue ink pen
in cell 505, and claims that he was held in cell 506. ECF 1
at 3. It was the responsibility of the hearing officer to
weigh the evidence and, in light of the evidence against
Merritt, it was not unreasonable or arbitrary for the hearing
officer to resolve discrepancies in favor of Officer Isaac.
Moreover, Officer Isaac's misidentification of the cell
number appears to be nothing more than a scrivener's
error. While Officer Isaac may have misidentified the cell
number, he did explicitly ...