United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
MICHAEL A. LOVE, JR., EL, Petitioner,
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
A. Love, Jr., El, a prisoner proceeding without a lawyer,
filed a habeas corpus petition challenging the prison
disciplinary hearing (ISP 16-05-175) at the Indiana State
Prison where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him
guilty of possession of a weapon in violation of Indiana
Department of Correction (IDOC) policy A-106. ECF 1 at 1. As
a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 30 days earned
credit time and was demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit
argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because
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). “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).
[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
was disciplined for violating IDOC A-106. This offense is
defined as, “[p]ossession or use of any explosive,
ammunition, hazardous chemical (e.g., acids or corrosive
agents) or dangerous or deadly weapon.” Indiana
Department of Correction Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix
The Conduct Report charged Love as follows:
On 5-23-16 at about 8:55AM I sgt. Reed was conducting a
search in the cell of Love 158219. Under his cabinet I found
a sharpened piece of metal approx.. 7” in length. This
ECF 5-1 at 1.
case, the DHO had sufficient evidence to find Love guilty. In
particular, the statements from the reporting officer and two
officer witnesses, and the photograph of the weapon
discovered in his cell, serve as sufficient evidence of
Love's guilt. While Love argues that the weapon belonged
to a prior resident of the cell, the DHO was presented with
evidence that Love had been in his cell for one month prior
to the search, and that the weapon and tape appeared to be
new. ECF 5-3 at 3. In light of this evidence, it was not
unreasonable or arbitrary for the DHO to have found Love
Love argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief
because his requests to present evidence were improperly
denied. He requested that the DHO obtain and review evidence
that documented what property the prior occupant of the cell
had possessed in the cell. Inmates have a right to present
relevant, exculpatory evidence in their defense. Miller
v. Duckworth, 963 F.2d 1002, 1005 (7th Cir. 1992).
Exculpatory in this context means evidence which
“directly undermines the reliability of the evidence in
the record pointing to [the prisoner's] guilt.”
Meeks v. McBride, 81 F.3d 717, 721 (7th
Cir. 1996). However, this right is significantly curtailed by
the security and administrative needs of the facility.
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566-67 (1974).
“Prison officials must have the necessary discretion to
keep the hearing within reasonable limits....”
Id. The DHO's denial of Love's evidentiary
requests did not infringe upon his due process rights because
the requested evidence was not exculpatory. Pursuant to IDOC
policy, an inmate is deemed to be in possession of any
On one's person, in one's quarters, in one's
locker or under one's physical control. For the purposes
of these procedures, offenders are presumed to be responsible
for any property, prohibited property or contraband that is
located on their person, within their cell or within areas of
their housing, work, educational or vocational assignment
that are under their control. Areas under an offender's
control include, but are not limited to: the door track,
window ledge, ventilation unit, plumbing and the
offender's desk, cabinet/locker, shelving, storage area,
bed and bedding materials in his/her housing assignment and
the desk, cubicle, work station and locker in his/her work,
educational or vocational assignment.
Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders.
Love had full access and control over his cell for a month
prior to the discovery of the weapon. Therefore, pursuant to
IDOC policy, even if another offender had placed the weapon
in his cabinet, he would still be guilty of possession.
Because the requested evidence was not exculpatory, the DHO
did not err in denying the request.
also argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief
because he was not provided with adequate time to prepare a
defense. ECF 1 at 3. Inmates are entitled to at least
24-hour's notice of the charges against them, prior to
their disciplinary hearing. See Wolff, 418 U.S. at
564. “Prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a
criminal prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a
defendant in such proceedings does not apply.”
Id. at 556. Here, Love received notice of the
charges against him on May 24, 2016 (ECF 5-2), and his
disciplinary hearing was held eight days later, on June 1,
2016. ECF 5-3. Thus, Love's due process right to advance
notice was satisfied.
also claims that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief
because the cell search did not comply with IDOC policy.
However, IDOC's failure to follow its own policy does not
rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Estelle
v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991) (“state-law
violations provide no basis for federal habeas
relief”); Keller v. Donahue, 271 F. App'x
531, 532 (7th Cir. 2008) (finding that inmate's claim
that prison failed to follow ...