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Saintignon v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

January 2, 2018

DANNY L. SAINTIGNON, Jr., Petitioner,
RICHARD BROWN, Respondent.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         The petition of Danny Saintignon for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVD 17-04-0130. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Saintignon'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 April 20, 2017, Correctional Officer D. Orman issued a Report of Conduct charging Saintignon with use of a controlled substance in violation of Code B-202. The Report of Conduct states:

The following conduct report has been issued to offender Saintignon, Danny #915828[1] for use of any unauthorized controlled substance as defined in the Adult Disciplinary Procedure. Per IDOC/WWCF drug screen program, offender Saintignon did submit a sample of his own urine for a full drug screen on 4-13-17 at approximately 1:17 a.m. The chain of custody was followed and a sealed specimen was sent to Redwood Laboratories for a full drug screen. A confirming test was performed. Laboratory results were sent by fax on 4-18-17 at 8:55 a.m. I became aware of the test results on 4-20-17 at approximately 7:30 a.m. Laboratory results did clearly indicate the presence of (M-AMP) Methamphetamine in the urine of offender Saintinon [sic].

         Saintignon was notified of the charge on April 20, 2017, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. The Screening Officer noted that Saintignon did not request any witnesses or evidence.

         The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on April 25, 2017. The Hearing Officer noted that Saintignon stated, “I think my due process rights were violated because the Redwood Toxicology Lab form for custody & control is not signed as received by laboratory. Breaks the chain of custody.” The Hearing Officer determined that Saintignon violated Code B-202, finding “DHO believes conduct report to be true and accurate. Considers lab results, no substantiated evidence to support broken chain of custody. Finds offender guilty.” The sanctions imposed included a written reprimand, a loss of phone privileges, restitution, the deprivation of 90 days of earned credit time, and the demotion of one credit class.

         Saintignon filed an appeal to the Facility Head. The appeal was denied on May 10, 2017. Saintignon then appealed to the Final Review Authority, who also denied the appeal on May 31, 2017.

         C. Analysis

         Saintignon challenges the disciplinary action against him arguing that he was not provided with a lay advocate, that the chain of custody for the urine test was not intact, and that DOC policy was violated.

         1. Lay Advocate

         Saintignon asserts that he requested lay advocate representation, but he was not provided with a lay advocate. The respondent argues that Saintignon has procedurally defaulted this claim because he did not raise it in his administrative appeals and the time for doing so has passed. In Indiana, only the issues raised in a timely appeal to the Facility Head and then to the Indiana Department of Correction Appeals Review Officer or Final Reviewing Authority may be raised in a subsequent Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A); Eads v. Hanks, 280 F.3d 728, 729 (7th Cir. 2002); Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002). Because Saintignon did not raise his claim that he was denied a lay advocate in his administrative appeals, he cannot raise it now. Moreover, “due process d[oes] not require that the prisoner be appointed a lay advocate, unless ‘an illiterate inmate is involved . . . or where the complexity of the issue makes it unlikely that the inmate will ...

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