United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Beverly, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing (WCC
16-02-385) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found
him guilty of possession of a cell phone in violation of
Indiana Department of Correction (TDOC) policy A-121. ECF 2
at 1, ECF 2-1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss
of 60 days earned credit time.
first argues that 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).
[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
the Conduct Report charged Beverly as follows, "On
02/17/2016 at approximately 01:10AM Offender Beverly, Darnell
#136125 had in his possession a LG touch screen Cell
Phone." ECF 9-1. He was subsequently charged and
convicted of violating IDOC A-121. This policy prohibits the
"[unauthorized use or possession of any cellular
telephone or other wireless or cellular communications
device." Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I:
APPENDIX _I-OFFENSES _6-l-2015(1).pdf.
had sufficient evidence to find Beverly guilty of possession
of a cell phone. Both the Conduct Report and the sealed,
confidential Incident Report, contained sufficient
information to find Beverly guilty. The Incident Report, in
particular, provides sufficient evidence to support the
DHO's finding because it describes in detail the
discovery of the phone in Beverly's bed. While Beverly
argues that the Conduct Report did not contain sufficient
descriptive information of where the phone was discovered,
the Conduct Report is supplemented by the more detailed
information contained in the confidential Incident Report.
Beverly also argues that the lack of description in the
Conduct Report violates 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 Fed.Appx. 531, 532 (7th Cir. 2008) (inmate's claim
that prison failed to follow internal policies had "no
bearing on his right to due process"). In light of the
evidence, the DHO's finding of guilty was not arbitrary
next claims that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief
because the DHO reviewed evidence that was not contained in
the Conduct Report and was thus not an impartial decision-
maker. "[P]risoners are entitled to be free from
arbitrary actions of prison officials." McPherson v.
McBride, 188 F.3d 787 (7th Cir. 1999) (quotation marks
omitted). However, 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). Here, Beverly has
presented no evidence that the DHO was biased. Thus, this
claim does not entitled him to habeas corpus relief.
also asserts that the DHO's reliance on evidence he had
not reviewed impeded his ability to defend himself against
the charge. Yet, it is well-established that "prison
disciplinary boards are entitled to receive, and act on,
information that is withheld from the prisoner and the public
...." White v. Ind. ParoleBd., 266 F.3d 759,
767 (7th Cir. 2001). Here, the court agrees that the
sensitive information contained in the Incident Report was
properly withheld from Beverly. See ECF 11.
Beverly asserts that his hearing was improperly delayed.
"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." Wolff
v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). Beverly did not
have a due process right to a 'speedy' disciplinary
hearing. See e.g. U.S. ex rel. Houston v. Warden,
Stateville Corr. Ctr., 635 F.2d 656, 658 (7th Cir. 1980)
(prisoner's due process rights were not violated by
two-month delay between offense and disciplinary hearing);
Peters v. Anderson, 27 Fed.Appx. 690, 692 (7th Cir.
2001) (unpublished) ("the delay was more likely to have
enhanced than impeded [the petitioner's] ability to
marshal a defense"). Pursuant to Wolff, Beverly
was entitled to at least 24-hours' advance notice of the
charges against him before his disciplinary hearing was held.
Here, Beverly received notice of the charges on February 18,
2016 (ECF 9-3), and his hearing was held on March 22, 2016.
ECF 9-8. Thus, Beverly received adequate notice of the
final claim is that his request to present a live witnesses
was improperly denied. However, an inmate in a prison
disciplinary hearing has no right to confront or
cross-examine witnesses. Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d
660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003). "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." Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S.
539, 556 (1974). "Prison officials must have the
necessary discretion to keep the hearing within reasonable
limits." Id. Here, Beverly's witness
provided a written statement, and the DHO considered that
statement in coming to a decision. ECF 9-8. Thus,
Beverly's due process right to present a witness in his
defense was satisfied.
these reasons, the petition (ECF 2) is
DENIED. The Clerk is