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Williams v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

August 30, 2017

ROOSEVELT WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          RUDY LOZANO, JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on the Petition under 28 U.S.C. Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus, filed by Roosevelt Williams, a pro se prisoner. For the reasons set forth below, the petition (ECF 1) is DENIED. The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case.

         BACKGROUND

         In the petition, Williams challenges the prison disciplinary hearing (MCF 16-04-287) where he was found guilty of possession and/or use of a controlled substance in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy B-202 by the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO). ECF 1 at 1. Williams was sanctioned with the loss of 90 days earned credit time and was demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 2. Id.

         The Conduct Report charges:

On 4-14-2016 at 2:20pm I Sergeant T. Heishman was conducting range checks on the ½ side of PHU and observed Offender Williams Roosevelt 974618 PHU-220 sitting in the top bunk leaning over his pillow in an unusual way that looked suspicious. I had the cell door opened and advised both offenders to step out of the cell because I thought it smelled like hooch and I just wanted to do a quick check. Both offenders complied and stepped out. I entered the cell and I told Officer Hunt to stand by the door. As I turned Offender Williams pillow on the top bunk over I found a white powdery substance spread out over a red folder. Immediately Offender Williams reentered the cell and attempted to get between me and his bunk in an aggressive way. I and Officer Hunt both took a defensive stance and ordered Offender Williams out of the cell and then restrained him and Offender Mims. Both Offenders were then escorted to the center and searched without any incidents. Upon questioning Offender Mims claimed the substance to be his and the substance to be cocaine. The paper work in the red folder was Offender Williams and contained conduct reports and other personal card (sic) with his name on them. Next to the red folder I located a small bag inside a glove finger containing the white substance believed to be cocaine[.] All items were located on the top bunk that is assigned to Offender Williams.

(ECF 1 at 24.) Officer Hunt also submitted a witness report:

On 4-14-2016 at 2:20pm I officer J. Hunt observed Sergeant T. Heishman conducting a range check on the ½ side of PHU. I assisted Sgt. Heishman at conducted a cell search of PHU 219/220. As Sgt. Heishman was searching the top bunk, Offender Williams reentered the cell and attempted to get between Sgt. Heishman and his bunk in an aggressive way. I and Sgt. Heishman both took a defensive stance and ordered Offender Williams out of the cell and then restrained him and Offender Mims. Both Offenders were then escorted to the center and searched without any incidents. Sgt. Heishman questioned Offender Mims. Offender Mims claimed the substance to be his and the substance to be cocaine. All items were located on the top bunk that is assigned to Offender Williams.

(ECF 1 at 26.) Both offenders were issued disciplinary reports.

         DISCUSSION

         When prisoners lose earned time credits in a prison disciplinary hearing, they are entitled to certain protections under the Due Process Clause: (1) advance written notice of the charges; (2) an opportunity to be heard before an impartial decision maker; (3) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in their defense when consistent with institutional safety and correctional goals; and (4) a written statement by a fact finder of evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563 (1974). To satisfy due process, there must also be “some evidence” to support the hearing officer's decision. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985).

         In Ground One, Williams argues that the DHO did not have sufficient evidence to find him guilty because his cell-mate claimed ownership of the substance. In evaluating whether there is adequate evidence to support the findings of a prison disciplinary hearing, “the relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.” Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56. A conduct report alone can provide evidence sufficient to support the finding of guilt. McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999). “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.” Hill, 472 U.S. At 457 (quotations marks and citation 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 ...


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