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Bell v. Superintendent

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

October 27, 2017

JOSEPH BELL, Petitioner,
v.
SUPERINTENDENT, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Philip P. Simon Judge United States District Court

         Joseph Bell, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing in which a Disciplinary Hearing Officer found him guilty of attempted trafficking in violation of Indiana Department of Correction rules A-111 and A-113. The finding of guilt led to the loss of 120 days earned credit time and a demotion in credit class. ECF 5-6.

         Bell argues that there was insufficient evidence to have found 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). “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 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (quotation marks omitted). There only needs to be “some evidence” to support the decision. Indeed, courts have gone so far as to say that “even meager proof will suffice. . . “ Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis omitted).

         Bell was charged with a violation of IDOC rule A-111 which is defined as “[a]ttempting or aiding and abetting with another to commit any Class A offense.” Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I. http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02-04-101APPENDIXI-OFFENSES6-1-2015(1).pdf. He was also charged with a violation of IDOC rule A-113 which 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.” Id. Indiana law defines “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).

         Let's start with the Conduct Report, which charged Bell with the following:

Lamonica Radford was stopped by police and admitted she was Conspiring to traffic narcotics “synthetic marijuana” in the ISF prison by dropping in the Lieber Park so a Labor line worker could smuggle it in to Offenders Durant and Joseph Bell[.]
Radford is believed credible because she implicated herself in a crime. Offender Pitchord Bell is in violation of ADP code 111/113 Violation of Law/Trafficking with an Inmate.

         ECF 5-1 (amendment in original). Here's what the Report of Investigation says:

Lamonica Radford admitted to police that she was conspiring with Offenders Michael Durant #966317, Joseph Bell #121260 to smuggle narcotics “synthetic marijuana” into the ISP prison. Radford is believed credible because she implicated herself in a crime. Durant was interviewed and admitted to me that Offender David Hunter # 194461 was the Offender on the Labor Line that was supposed to ...

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