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Jones v. Brown

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

October 17, 2017

JIMMY D. JONES, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN Superintendent, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          Robert L. Miller, Jr. United States District Judge.

         The petition of Jimmy D. Jones for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding, WVD 16-02-0102, in which he was found guilty of possessing counterfeit documents. For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. Jones' 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 February 18, 2016, Sergeant Lantrip issued a Report of Conduct charging Mr. Jones with possession of counterfeit documents in violation of Code B-230. The Report of Conduct states:

On 2/18/16 at approx. 830am I Sgt. Lantrip was observing CAB on Offender Jones, Jimmy #891782 where he was claiming that he had a set of Wahl clippers on his inve[n]tory sheet. I then contacted classification and C/O M. Christy to obtain the original copies. On the copies from classification and C/O M. Christy there was no Wahl clippers. Offender Jones had a copy that was dated the same day and same officer where Wahl clippers have been added.

Dkt. 8-1.

         Mr. Jones was notified of the charge on February 23, 2016, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening Officer noted that Mr. Jones did not request any witness statements and that he requested as evidence the original of the document he allegedly gave to the CAB. Dkt. 8-2.

         The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on February 25, 2016. Dkt. 8-13. The hearing officer noted Mr. Jones' statement, “I did not present a forged document. Where is the original that I allegedly gave them. If I did, they should have confiscated it.” Id. Relying on the staff reports, the statement of the offender, evidence from witnesses, copies of the documents, and the confidential mental health statement, the hearing officer determined that Mr. Jones had violated Code B-230. Id. The sanctions imposed included a written reprimand, one month of lost phone privileges, 30 days of disciplinary segregation (suspended), and the deprivation of 60 days of earned credit time. Id.

         Mr. Jones' appeals were denied. This habeas action followed.

         III. Analysis

         Mr. Jones argues that his due process rights were violated during the disciplinary proceeding because: 1) the evidence was insufficient to find him guilty because Sgt. Lantrip provided him with a copy and not the original document requested; and 2) the hearing officer also denied his request for the original allegedly forged document.

         An inmate “facing disciplinary proceedings should be allowed to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in his defense when permitting him to do so will not be unduly hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals.” Wolff v. McDonell, 418 U.S. at 566. Here, Mr. Jones alleges that he was improperly denied evidence he requested. Due process requires “prison officials to disclose all material exculpatory evidence, ” unless that evidence “would unduly threaten institutional concerns.” Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d at 847 (internal quotation omitted). In the prison disciplinary context, the purpose of the rule requiring disclosure of exculpatory evidence is “to insure ...


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