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Edmonds v. Superintendent

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

October 2, 2017

JOHNNY EDMONDS, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Philip P. Simon, Judge United States District Court.

         Johnny Edmonds, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (MCF 15-12-52) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty of assault in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Policy A-102. ECF 1 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 120 days earned credit time and was demoted from Credit Class I to Credit Class II.

         In Grounds One and Two, Edmonds argues that the DHO had insufficient 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 omitted).

         The Conduct Report charged Edmonds as follows:

On 12/3/2015 at approximately 1247 p.m., I (Sgt Kingery) was handling a situation on the 3/4 range when I was contacted by my pod officer to step over to the 1/2 side. when I entered the 1/2 range, I noticed three offenders engaged in what appeared to be a heated argument. After instructing the range to lock down, I separated the three offenders and restrained all three, with assistance from Phase 2 QRT Supervisor and Phase 2 K-9. Edmonds, Johnny (#984924, KHU-101) was seen on camera, using closed fists, assaulting an offender with assistance from another offender. The offender who was assaulted sustained injuries causing him to be admitted to the Infirmary. Edmonds was escorted to RHU with no further incident.

ECF 11-1. Edmonds was charged and found guilty of violating IDOC A-102. This offense is defined as, “[c]ommitting battery/assault upon another person with a weapon (including the throwing of body fluids or waste on another person) or inflicting serious bodily injury.” Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I: Offenses. http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02-04-101APPENDIXI-OFFENSES6-1-2015(1).pdf.

         The DHO had sufficient evidence to find Edmonds guilty. At the hearing, Edmonds had the opportunity to make a statement in his defense, and he told the DHO, “I don't want to say anything.” ECF 11-7. The DHO found Edmonds guilty based on the Conduct Report, Edmonds' statement, and the surveillance footage. The surveillance video shows three offenders engage in an altercation that occurs mostly outside the viewing area of the camera. However, one of the offenders can be seen repeatedly punching another offender with a closed fist. The DHO's finding was not arbitrary or unreasonable in light of this evidence.

         Edmonds argues that there was insufficient evidence to supporting a guilty finding pursuant to A-102 because there was no evidence of serious bodily injury. The IDOC defines “serious bodily injury” as:

         An injury to a person that requires urgent and immediate medical treatment (normally more extensive than mere first aid, such as bandaging a wound; but which might include stiches, setting of broken bones, treatment of concussion, etc.) and/or that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes:

• Serious permanent disfigurement;
• Unconsciousness;
• Extreme ...

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