United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISMISSING ACTION AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL
Jane Magntts-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District
Eiseman was disciplined at an Indiana prison in No. CIC
16-11-195 for engaging in an unauthorized financial
transaction. Contending that the proceeding is infected with
constitutional infirmity, Eiseman seeks a writ of habeas
considered the pleadings, the expanded record, and the
parties' arguments, and being duly advised, the Court
finds no infirmity in the challenged proceeding and therefore
denies the petition for writ of habeas corpus.
conduct report was issued on November 15, 2016, charging
Eiseman with having used the telephone during the week of May
1, 2016 to arrange for his brother's girlfriend to
receive money. He did this without authorization. On November
20, 2016, Eiseman was notified of this charge and of his
procedural rights in connection with the matter. Eiseman
requested that the phone logs be produced as evidence, but
did not request witnesses.
hearing on the charge was conducted on November 21, 2016.
Eiseman was present and made a statement concerning the
charge. His statement was considered, together with the
conduct report and the other evidence. The hearing officer
found Eiseman guilty of the charged offense. Sanctions were
imposed, Eiseman's administrative appeal was rejected,
and this action followed.
seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). A federal
court may issue a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(a) only if it finds the applicant “is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties
of the United States.” Id.; see also Brown v.
Watters, 599 F.3d 602, 611 (7th Cir. 2010). Limited and
well-defined due process procedures must be followed before
good time may be taken from a prison inmate such as
Due process requires that prisoners in disciplinary
proceedings be given: “(1) advance (at least 24 hours
before hearing) written notice of the claimed violation; (2)
the opportunity to be heard before an impartial decision
maker; (3) the opportunity to call witnesses and present
documentary evidence (when consistent with institutional
safety); and (4) a written statement by the fact-finder of
the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary
action.” Rasheed-Bey v. Duckworth, 969 F.2d
357, 361 (7th Cir. 1992); see also Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963, 41 L.Ed.2d 935
Scruggs v. Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir.
2007). In addition, there is a substantive component to the
issue, which requires that the decision of a conduct board be
supported by “some evidence.” Superintendent
v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445 (1985).
was supplied with the protections required by Wolff
and Hill. Specifically, the charge was clear,
adequate notice was given, and the evidence was sufficient.
In addition, (1) Eiseman was given the opportunity to appear
before the hearing officer and make a statement concerning
the charge, (2) the hearing officer issued a sufficient
statement of his findings, and (3) the hearing officer issued
a written reason for the decision and for the sanctions
to claims which were properly preserved for consideration
here, Eiseman's contentions otherwise are meritless.
• He first argues that he did not receive the minimum
24-hour advance notice because the hearing was conducted 23
hours after he was notified of the charge. This contention
lacks merit, however, because the expanded record shows that
at the time of notification Eiseman waived his right to 24
hours advance notice. With that waiver in hand, prison
authorities did not act improperly in going forward with the
hearing when they did. Even if the Court concluded otherwise,
moreover, Eiseman has not alleged or demonstrated prejudice
in the scheduling of the hearing. See Piggie v.
Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003) (harmless
error analysis applies to prison disciplinary hearings).
• Eiseman's second claim is that he was denied
evidence in the form of surveillance videos. However, at the
notification step, Eiseman did not request videos and at the
hearing itself no reference was made to his renewed request
for them. Importantly, the right of inmates to call witnesses
at disciplinary hearings is not unqualified; rather, the
Supreme Court's decision in Wolff may be
interpreted as affording inmates the right to call witnesses
when their requests are timely. Sweeny v. Parke, 113
F.3d 716, 720 (7th Cir. 1997), overruled on other grounds
by White v. Ind. Parole Bd.,266 F.3d 759, 765-66 (7th
Cir. 2001). As the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals found in
Sweeney, prison officials need leeway in operating
their institutions in an orderly fashion and an inmate's
day-of-hearing request to call witnesses may be a delay
tactic, may raise the level of confrontation between prison
staff and the inmate and thereby undermine prison
officials' authority, and may disrupt the
institution's disciplinary process and hinder its
rehabilitation function. Sweeney, ...