United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
L. Miller, Jr. United States District Judge.
inmate Jesse M. Estes was disciplined in a prison
disciplinary action for possession of a controlled substance
in prison case number NCF 16-04-0255. Contending that the
proceeding was tainted by constitutional error, Mr. Estes
seeks a writ of habeas corpus. Finding no error of
constitutional magnitude, Mr. Estes' petition for writ of
habeas corpus, dkt. 1, is denied.
April 26, 2016, New Castle Correctional Facility Officer
Black was conducting a shake down of Estes' property box.
Mr. Estes wasn't present. Officer Black found a white
powder substance in the property box. The substance was taken
to investigators by Sgt. Denny. Mr. Estes was given written
notice of a charge of possession of a controlled substance, a
Estes requested witness statements from three offenders, a
video of the search to demonstrate that he was not present
for the search, and additional testing of the substance. The
inmate statements were obtained and are part of the record.
The request for the video was denied as being irrelevant, and
the request for outside testing was denied as being
unreasonable. See dkt. 10-2.
disciplinary hearing was held May 4, 2016. Mr. Estes
attended, but declined to make a statement or comment.
Offender Tison Randall's statement was considered. Mr.
Randall reported that he had seen what he thought were milk
packets and knew of no illegal substances possessed by Mr.
Estes. Dkt. 10-3. The hearing officer also considered
offender Jeffery Moore's statement that the shake down
was conducted while Mr. Estes was gone and that Mr. Estes
didn't have any drugs. Dkt. 10-4. Finally, the hearing
officer considered offender Jeff Watson's statement that
Mr. Estes had a white powder substance that was actually milk
and that Mr. Estes drank it before and after workouts. Dkt.
hearing officer also considered staff reports, photographs of
the white powder substance and a confidential e-mail from
investigators, and found Mr. Estes guilty of the charged
misconduct. Mr. Estes was sanctioned and filed this action
after his administrative appeals were rejected.
respondent agrees that Mr. Estes exhausted his administrative
remedies before filing his petition.
in Indiana custody can't be deprived of good-time
credits, 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); Piggie v.
Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v.
Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).
Mr. Estes' Claims and Analysis
Estes raises four grounds for habeas corpus relief. First, he
asserts that the conduct report states that a
“bag” of a white powdery substance was found, but
the photograph used in evidence at the hearing is a rubber
glove, and that the photograph reflects a different case
number than his disciplinary case. Dkt. 1, p. 2. Second, Mr.
Estes asserts that he asked for video footage of the shake
down but that his request wasn't addressed. Id.
Third, Mr. Estes asserts that although a confidential report
reported a positive test for cocaine, he wasn't
personally tested with a drug screen, and his request for an
outside test of the evidence wasn't addressed.
Id. Fourth, and finally, Mr. Estes asserts that
because the conduct report doesn't reflect a disposition
of the physical evidence, the evidence “should be
dismissed.” Dkt. 1, p. 3.
court review of prison disciplinary hearings is very narrow.
The primary sources for these rights are Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. at 564-572 (setting forth the rights
mandated by due process), and Supt. v. Hill, 472
U.S. at 453-457 (holding that sufficiency of the evidence
claims are available and creating the “some
evidence” standard). Mr. Estes' grounds for relief,