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Posey v. Butts

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

September 1, 2017

SEAN E. POSEY, Petitioner,
v.
KEITH BUTTS in his official capacity, Respondent.

          ENTRY GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          HON. WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Presently before the Court is Petitioner Sean E. Posey's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. NCF 16-04-0050. That proceeding resulted in the loss of 180 days of earned credit time, and a demotion in credit class. Mr. Posey raises eight claims in his habeas petition, two of which are dispositive. First, Mr. Posey maintains that he was denied due process because his requested witnesses were not permitted to testify at his disciplinary hearing; they instead submitted written statements. Second, Mr. Posey argues that he was denied the video evidence he requested. For the reasons explained below, the Court concludes that Mr. Posey was denied due process and his petition for habeas corpus is granted.

         I. 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).

         II. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On April 6, 2016, Sergeant Clayborn issued a Report of Conduct charging Mr. Posey with possession of a dangerous or deadly weapon in violation of Code A-106. The Report of Conduct states:

On the above date and approximate time I, Sgt E. Clayborn, was conducting a routine shakedown of offender Sean Posey #979826, when I discovered a piece of sharpened metal approximately six and a half inches long with a strip of bed sheet wrapped around it magnetically affixed to the metal drawer on his bunk. Offender Posey was advised he'd be receiving a conduct report.

Dkt. 9-1.

         Mr. Posey was notified of the charge on April 8, 2016, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. The Screening Officer noted that Posey requested three offender witnesses and the video showing the search. The three witness statements were collected. Offender James Anderson submitted a statement that states, “I know nothing.” Dkt. 9-3. Offender Bobby Joe Sample, Jr. stated, “know nothing about it.” Dkt. 9-4. The third offender, Angelo D'Paffo stated, “I know he didn't have a shank on him.” Dkt. 9-5. A summary of the video was prepared and states, “The video for the above case was reviewed from 07:20 to 8:00 as the offender requested. Video [d]oes not show this bed area during this time frame. Camera does not record sound.” Dkt. 9-6.

         The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on April 13, 2016. The Hearing Officer noted Mr. Posey's statement, “I don't know if it was there when I moved in to that bed or if someone put it there. That was not mine. I don't know who put it there. I don't need anything like that.” Dkt. 9-8. The Hearing Officer determined that Mr. Posey had violated Code A-106 for possessing a dangerous weapon. The sanctions imposed included a restriction of phone and commissary privileges, 6 months of disciplinary segregation, the deprivation of 180 days of earned credit time, and the demotion from credit class II to credit class III.

         The Hearing Officer imposed the sanctions because of the seriousness, frequency, and nature of the offense, and the degree to which the violation disrupted or endangered the security of the facility.

         Mr. Posey filed an appeal to the Facility Head on April 13, 2016. The appeal was denied on April 25, 2016. Mr. Posey then appealed to the Final Review Authority, who denied the appeal on June 20, 2016.

         III. Analysis

         A. ...


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