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Easter v. Zatecky

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

November 15, 2017

GREGORY EASTER, Petitioner,
v.
DUSHAN ZATECKY, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         The petition of Gregory Easter for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR 17-02-0123. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Easter'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 February 12, 2017, Investigator Conlon wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr. Easter with assault causing injury in violation of Code A-102. The Conduct Report states:

On 2-2-17 at approx. 10:35 a.m., I Lt. Conlon was reviewing camera when I witnessed Offender Graham # 921844 and Offender Easter # 133597 stand in front of each other and then began striking each other with closed fists. Both offender[s] continued to strike each other and then they went to the ground and continued to fight. Both offender[s] were identified and stripped searched and both had bruises, cuts and scrapes on their body. Pictures were taken of each offender but Offender Graham had a laceration to his head.

         Filing No. 9-1. Photographs of Mr. Graham's injuries were included with the Conduct Report. See Filing No. 9-2.

         Mr. Easter was notified of the charge on February 23, 2017, when he received the Screening Report. He plead not guilty to the charge. He requested “any physical evidence” and the video of the incident and, as witnesses, he requested Mr. Graham and Lt. Simone. Filing No. 9-3 at 1. His requests for witnesses were denied because Mr. Graham “is the alleged other party” and Lt. Simone “was not present for the incident. [She] says she watched the video.” Filing No. 9-3 at 1.

         The hearing officer viewed the video evidence and completed a summary of the video, which states:

I M. Stamper did the video review. I did witness both offender Graham #921844 and offender Easter #133597 both approach each other with closed fists. It took place in the back of the gym between both of the sides. It was more than obvious what the two offenders were about to do. They also had several offenders around them. Once the fight began between offender Graham and offender Easter they were hitting one another several times in the face and head area with closed fists. At one point in time offender Easter was able to body slam offender Graham on the floor or the weights. It was hard to tell what he got slammed on. Offender Easter was on top of offender Graham punching him several times with closes fists to the head and facial area.

Filing No. 9-8 at 1.

         The disciplinary hearing was held on April 11, 2017. Mr. Easter stated at the hearing that his conduct “doesn't fit a 102.” Filing No. 9-11 at 1. Based on the staff reports and the video evidence, the hearing officer found Mr. Easter guilty of assault with injuries in violation of Code A-102. The hearing officer noted that Mr. Easter admitted to “having a lock and using it to hit offender Graham in the head.” Filing No. 9-11 at 1. The sanctions imposed included a 100 day earned-credit-time deprivation and a credit class demotion.

         Mr. Easter appealed to Facility Head and the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority, both of which were denied. He then brought this petition for a writ of ...


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