United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
petition of Kenneth Keller for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding, NCF 16-05-0187,
in which he was found guilty of possession of a controlled
substance. For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr.
Keller's habeas petition must be denied.
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).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
20, 2016, Correctional Officer Cutshall issued a Report of
Conduct charging Mr. Keller with possession or use of
controlled substance in violation of Code B-202. The Report
of Conduct states:
On the above date and approximate time, I Officer Cutshall
performed a rand[om] shake down of offender Kenneth Keller
(#233670) bunk and property box. Durring [sic] my shake down
I found a brownish powder inside a bag with a peace [sic] of
tin foil. All of this was in a small box under his sleeping
mat on his bunk. I sent the substance up with the Sgt on duty
to be tested. I was later informed that the substance had
tested positive for meth[amphetamine]. Offender was told he
would be rec[ei]ving a conduct report.
Dkt. 8-1 (capitalization modified).
Keller was notified of the charge on May 20, 2016, when he
was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of
Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening
Officer noted that Mr. Keller requested statements from
offenders Spencer Atwood and R. McGill. Dkt. 8-2. The
Screening Officer also noted that Mr. Keller did not request
any evidence. Id. Offender Atwood stated, “I
was in the room at the time and to my knowledge there is no
way that was anything but saw dust or glue. To [sic] further
testing would confirm that.” Dkt. 8-3. Offender McGill
stated, “I was in the room with Mr. Keller & I know
for a fact that Mr. Keller did no drugs nor possess any
drugs. The substance that is in question is wood shaving used
to fill joints in on the seams of a popsickle [sic] stick box
that Mr. Keller was building.” Dkt. 8-4.
hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on May 25,
2016. Dkt. 8-6. The hearing officer noted Mr. Keller's
statement, “It was not found under my mat. It was on
the floor, I did not have any drugs. I only had one soup in
the box.” Id. Based on the staff reports,
statement of offender, evidence from witnesses, photographs,
and report of field test, the hearing officer determined that
Mr. Keller had violated Code B-202. Id. The
sanctions imposed included disciplinary segregation (time
served), a phone and commissary restriction, the deprivation
of 90 days of earned credit time, and the demotion of a
credit class. Id.
Keller's appeals were denied. This habeas action
Keller argues that his due process rights were violated
during the disciplinary proceeding. His claims are that: 1)
the Report of Conduct was inadequate; 2) the field test
report was inaccurate and unreliable; 3) the description of
the substance found was inaccurate and unreliable; and 4) his
request to have the substance retested at an outside lab was
Keller first argues that the Report of Conduct was
insufficient because it did not list the disposition of the
physical evidence, thereby showing a break in the chain of
custody. Due process requires that an inmate be given
advanced “written notice of the charges . . . in order
to inform him of the charges and to enable him to marshal the
facts and prepare a defense.” Wolff, 418 U.S.
at 564. “The notice should inform the inmate of the
rule allegedly violated and summarize the facts underlying
the charge.” Northern v. Hanks, 326 F.3d 909,
910 (7th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation omitted). The Report
of Conduct described the substance and where it was found and
attached to it was the field test report. Dkt. 8-1, pp. 1, 5.
Photographs were taken and included with the Report of
Conduct. Dkt. 8-1, pp. 2-4. The Report of Conduct informed
Mr. Keller ...