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Silcox v. Smith

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

October 12, 2017

JAMES C. SILCOX, Petitioner,
BRIAN SMITH, Respondent.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, United States District Judge.

         The petition of James C. Silcox for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding, ISF 16-05-0120, in which he was found guilty of possession or solicitation of unauthorized personal information. For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. Silcox's habeas petition must be denied.

         I. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of credit time, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004), 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); Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011); 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 May 2, 2016, Sergeant Gilley issued a Report of Conduct charging Mr. Silcox with possession or solicitation of unauthorized personal information in violation of Code B-247. The Report of Conduct states:

On Monday May 2, 2016 I Sgt. Gilley was monitoring offender Silcox, James DOC #873829 J-Pay account. On multiple dates he was receiving and was writing to a Michelle Raby on J-Pay that was a Corizon staff member and some letters were received and written after she got fired. Her name has been confirmed through the Internal Affairs Department as Michele Guiles, former Corizon staff member. There are several letters attached to this CAB that supports all evidence that he was in correspondence with this staff member through J-Pay while she was employed through Corizon and after she got fired.

Dkt. 10-1.

         Mr. Silcox was notified of the charge on May 9, 2016, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening Officer noted that Mr. Silcox requested statements from offender Brandon Rabe and Sergeant Gilley and requested the JPay letters as evidence. Dkt. 10-2. Offender Rabe submitted a statement that provides: “I had him write a letter to my sister and I mailed it out to my house & her name is Michelle Rabe you can check my jpay her name is on there.” Dkt. 10-3. Sergeant Gilley also submitted a statement, providing: “CAB stands as written. I did have him come to my office in I.A. and discuss the CAB. He did state he was writing letters to his friend[‘]s sister, and that was all he was doing.” Dkt. 10-4.

         The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on May 11, 2016. Dkt. 10-7. The Hearing Officer noted Mr. Silcox's statement: “I didn't contact her. She got on my JPay list. At first I thought it was Rabe[‘s] sister. I never sent her a Request. She just was added on my JPay. I'm guilty of 361 or 473.” Id. The Hearing Officer relied upon the staff reports, the statement of the offender, evidence from witnesses, and the JPay letters in determining that Mr. Silcox had violated Code B-247. The sanctions imposed included a written reprimand, a 30-day JPay restriction, the deprivation of 60 days of earned credit time, and the demotion from credit class I to credit class II (suspended). Id. The Hearing Officer imposed the sanctions because of the seriousness, frequency, and nature of the offense, the offender's attitude and demeanor during the hearing, the degree to which the violation disrupted or endangered the security of the facility, and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on the offender's future behavior Id.

         Mr. Silcox's appeals were denied. This habeas action followed.

         III. Analysis

         Mr. Silcox argues that his due process rights were violated during the disciplinary proceeding. His claims are that: 1) he never had Ms. Guiles' personal information; 2) Ms. Guiles contacted him first; and 3) she got on his JPay under a fake name, Michelle Raby. These shall all be treated as challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence.

         Code B-247 prohibits the unauthorized possession or solicitation of ...

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