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Burrus v. Zatecky

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 7, 2017

DEJUAN BURRUS, Petitioner,


          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         The petition of Dejuan Burrus for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. STP 16-07-0083. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Burrus's habeas petition must be denied.

         A. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004) (per curiam), 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); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On January 26, 2017, Investigator T. Truex, wrote a conduct report charging Burrus with offense A-111/100, assisting in a violation of law, in particular, Indiana Code section 35-48-4-1(a), delivery of a narcotic drug. The conduct report states:

On July 7, 2016, [1] I, Investigator Truex, was reviewing camera footage from an [sic] 7/7/16 event. Truex witnessed offender Dejuan Burrus, IDOC # 132368, talking to offender Antonio Twiggs, IDOC # 179364, Burrus then went to the Housing Unit window and watched to ensure the officer did not return to the housing unit before Twiggs finished tampering with the officer's drink. By acting as a look out, Burrus ensured Twiggs would not be caught by staff while placing a narcotic substance in Correctional Officer M. Truex's drink. Burrus's actions violated Indiana Criminal Code 35-48-4-1(a) for delivery of a narcotic substance.

         On January 30, 2017, Burrus was notified of the charge of (A-111/100) assisting in a violation of law, Indiana Code section 35-48-4-1(a) delivery of a narcotic substance, and was served with a copy of the conduct report and the screening report. Burrus was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He requested a lay advocate, and a lay advocate was later appointed. Burrus requested Antonio Twiggs (# 179384) as a witness. As evidence, he requested video footage and a test of the bottle contents. He did not waive his right to 24 hours' advance notice of the disciplinary hearing.

         After his disciplinary screening, Burrus requested additional evidence:

1. Video/audio/written statement that “offender Twiggs # 179384 admitted to Investigator Truex that the substance that was allegedly seen put in Officer Truex's bottle was in fact methamphetamine.”
2. Any evidence Investigator Truex used to determine that it was a narcotic drug put in Officer Truex's drink, including blood or toxicology results, and a statement from Officer Truex if he felt unusual after drinking the contents.
3. “A witness statement from both Investigator Truex and Officer Truex that they are in any way shape or form, blood related or marriage related as defined by Indiana Criminal Code & Procedure 2017 edition.”
4. “If there was in fact a blood test done or urine analysis of officer Truex before the alleged incident, I need the results of those, as well as the amount of alleged narcotic drugs that were or had been found in officer Truex's system.”
5. “And finally any evidence that the Department of Corrections has pertaining to this case STP 16-07-0083, which will either prove or disprove how Investigator Truex determined that the substance allegedly placed in M. Truex's drink was positive for the chemical makeup of any narcotic substance as defined by [I.C.] 35-48-1-20….”

         Offender Twiggs gave the following statement:

On 7-7-16 I Antonio Twiggs made the very stupid & childish decision to play a prank on an officer by putting[g] Milk of Magnesia in his drink to give him the runs. When questioned about the incident on 7-8-16 I admitted to putting milk of magnesia in the drink; however, my words were twisted & it was said that I admitted to possessing methamphetamine which I never did! I was also asked if Mr. Burrrus #132368 had any involvement with my prank, I repeatedly told staff ...

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