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Simmons v. Superintendent

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

October 18, 2017

LAFAYETTE SIMMONS, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO, JUDGE.

         Lafayette Simmons, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging disciplinary hearings ISP 16-09-256 and ISP 16-09-257, where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty of trafficking in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy A-113 and participating in security threat group/unauthorized organizational activity in violation of IDOC B-208. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 210 days earned credit time and was demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 2.

         Simmons argues that the DHO did not have sufficient 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).

[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 in case ISP 16-09-256 charged Simmons as follows,

On 3/24/2016 Case 16-ISP-0139 was opened regarding Offender Simmons # 127689. Offender Simmons # 127689 through an investigation was found to be the owner of a Blue Lg phone that was confiscated on 3/8/16 in a drain in cubical FW 79. Ownership was verified from text messages and photos within the phone. Offender Simmons was engaging in unauthorized financial transactions receiving Pay pal, and Western Union money transfers from civilians to buy and sell contraband to other inmates within the facility. Offender Simmons # 127689 is engaging in the trafficking of Tobacco, Marijuana and K-2 (Tune) in quantities. 16-ISP-0139 Found Substantiated for Trafficking

ECF 8-1. In this case, Simmons was charged and found guilty of trafficking in violation of IDOC A-113. This offense is defined as “[e]ngaging in trafficking (as defined in IC 35-44.1-3-5) with anyone who is not an offender residing in the same facility.” Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I: Offenses. http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02-04-101APPENDIXI-OFFENSES6-1-2015(1).pdf. Indiana law defines the offense of trafficking as follows:

(b) A person who, without the prior authorization of the person in charge of a penal facility or juvenile facility, knowingly or intentionally:
(1) delivers, or carries into the penal facility or juvenile facility with intent to deliver, an article to an inmate or child of the facility;
(2) carries, or receives with intent to carry out of the penal facility or juvenile facility, an article from an inmate or child of the facility; or
(3) delivers, or carries to a worksite with the intent to deliver, alcoholic beverages to an inmate or child of a jail work crew or community work crew…

Ind. Code § 35-44.1-3-5 (West).

         The Conduct Report in Simmons' second case, ISP 16-09-257, ...


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