United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. Judge.
Arrington, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a petition
under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his prison
disciplinary hearing in MCF 16-04-560 where a Disciplinary
Hearing Officer found him guilty of assault/battery in
violation of Indiana Department of Correction policy B-212.
He was sanctioned with the loss of 30 days earned credit
Grounds One and Two, Mr. Arrington argues that he is entitled
to habeas corpus relief because the hearing officer
didn't 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,
455-456 (1985). “In reviewing a decision for some
evidence, courts are not required to conduct an examination
of the entire record, independently assess witness
credibility, or weigh the evidence, but only determine
whether the prison disciplinary board's decision to
revoke good time credits has some factual basis.”
McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d F.3d 787, 786 (7th
[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
Conduct Report charged Mr. Arrington as follows:
On 04-26-2016 at approximately 1500 I Officer J. Rhodes
observed offenders Gorman, Anthony Doc#220293 (KHU Cell -450)
and Arrington, Leroy Doc#218916 (KHU Cell-444) having an
argument in front of KHU Cell 445/446. While continuing my
observation I seen (sic) offender Gorman, Anthony run towards
KHU Cell-450 with offender Arrington, Leroy chasing after
him. The argument continued in front of KHU Cell-449/450.
After a few seconds passed offender Gorman, Anthony and
offender Arrington, Leroy stepped into KHU Cell- 449/450.
Offender Bass, Jamar Doc# 137526 was already in the cell
before offender Arrington and offender Gorman entered. All
three offenders began arguing. I then observed punches being
thrown between offender Arrington, Leroy and offender Gorman,
Anthony. I radioed a 10-10 for the KHU 3/4 side. Offender
Arrington, Leroy then exited the cell and ran to the door of
his cell, KHU Cell-444.
Arrington was subsequently charged and found guilty of
violating Department of Correction B-212. This offense is
defined as “[c]ommitting a battery/assault upon another
person without a weapon or inflicting bodily injury.”
Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I.
hearing officer had sufficient evidence to find Mr. Arrington
guilty. A conduct report alone can be sufficient evidence to
support a finding of guilt. McPherson v. McBride,
188 F.3d at 786. The conduct report in this case contained
the reporting officer's first-hand observations. The
reporting officer saw Mr. Arrington argue with another
prisoner, chase the prisoner into his cell, and exchange
punches with that prisoner. These observations sufficiently
support the hearing officer's finding of guilt.
Arrington argues that the hearing officer shouldn't have
found the conduct report credible in light of the witness
statements he presented from the two other prisoners involved
in the altercation. He also argues that the reporting officer
couldn't have had a clear view into the cell from where
she stood, and couldn't have seen what she claimed to
have seen. It was the exclusive province of the hearing
officer to weigh the respective credibility of the witnesses
and this court can't reconsider or re-weigh that
evidence. See Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d at 653. In
light of the evidence contained in the conduct report, it was
neither unreasonable nor arbitrary for the hearing officer to
reject Mr. Arrington's version of events.
Arrington also contends that he shouldn't have been found
guilty of violating B-212 because there was no evidence that
the other offender sustained a physical injury. The
respondent doesn't dispute this point and the incident
report confirms that there were no physical injuries. But
B-212 is explicitly defined as an assault/battery that
does not result in physical injury. The hearing
officer had sufficient evidence to find Mr. Arrington guilty.
Thus, grounds one and two don't serve as a basis for
granting habeas corpus relief.
Ground Three,  Mr. Arrington argues that he is entitled
to habeas corpus relief because he was denied an impartial
decision-maker. In the prison disciplinary context,
adjudicators are “entitled to a presumption of honesty
and integrity, ” and “the constitutional standard
for improper bias is high.” Piggie v. Cotton,
342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003). Due process would, for
example, prohibit a prison official who was personally and
substantially involved in the underlying incident from acting
as a decision-maker in the case. Id. In contrast,
due process isn't violated simply because the hearing
officer knew the inmate or presided over one of the
prisoner's other disciplinary cases. Id.
Arrington hasn't met the high standard necessary to
establish bias. He argues that the hearing officer showed
bias when she told him during the hearing, “it is my
job to find you guilty, and your job to appeal it.”
This statement, alone, isn't sufficient to establish that
the hearing officer was inappropriately predisposed to find
Mr. Arrington guilty. Rather, in the absence of any other
evidence of bias, the hearing officer's comment was
merely a statement that it was her job to find him guilty
because he was guilty, and an explanation of Mr.
Arrington's future options. Because there is insufficient
evidence to establish bias, Ground Three doesn't identify
a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Arrington wants to appeal this decision, he doesn't need
a certificate of appealability because he is challenging a
prison disciplinary proceeding. See Evans v. Circuit
Court, 569 F.3d 665, 666 (7th Cir. 2009). However, he
may not proceed in forma pauperis on appeal because the court
finds pursuant ...