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Troutman v. Penfold

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

March 12, 2018




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

         The petition of Joshua Troutman for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. IYC 16-10-0017. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Troutman'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 September 30, 2016, case manager J. Chambers wrote a conduct report in case IYC 16-10-0017 charging Mr. Troutman with assault on staff. The conduct report states:

On September 30, 2016 at approximately 1:25 P.M. I, J. Chambers entered Housing Unit Central N-Unit to assist with targeted searches at the time First Responders were via radioed to the Unit. Entering the unit I observed R. Marks on his knees securing Offender Troutman, Joshua (# 121857/N1-4U) left wrist as Officer Andrade as well on his knees securing the offenders chest area attempting to calm the offender down. Offender stated “I am calm ready to stand up.” As Marks, Officer Andrade and offender Troutman were standing up offender then became unruly, belligerent refusing all orders from staff and resisting staff. I then entered the cell to assist staff to gain control of the offender as I was pushed by offender Troutman causing injury to my right leg by cutting it open on the corner of a property box. Offender then secured as I was advised to go to medical staff to get evaluated for my right leg. Medical then advised that I will need to go to Hendricks County Regional Health to get evaluated due to the cut being more open and deeper in my leg as it was cleaned. I then proceeded to HCR Health for further evaluation.

Dkt. 9-1.

         On October 6, 2016, Mr. Troutman was notified of the charge of assault on staff and served with the conduct report and screening report. Mr. Troutman was notified of his rights, pled not guilty and requested the appointment of a lay advocate. Dkt. 9-2. He requested a witness, inmate McDaniel, and requested photo evidence. Id.

         The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in IYC 16-10-0017 on October 14, 2016, and found Mr. Troutman guilty of the charge of assault on staff. Dkt. 9-3. At the hearing, Mr. Troutman stated, “I never touched Mr. Chambers.” Id. In determining Mr. Troutman's guilt, the hearing officer considered the Mr. Troutman's statements, staff reports, and witness statements. Id. The hearing officer recommended and approved the following sanctions: 45 days lost commissary and phone privileges, 360 days in disciplinary segregation, restitution of $5, 000, loss of 360 days of earned credit time, and a demotion from credit class II to credit class III. Id.

         Mr. Troutman appealed to the facility head and the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) final reviewing authority, both of which were denied. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Troutman challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the appropriateness of the sanctions issued in this disciplinary action. Challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence are governed by the “some evidence” standard. “[A] hearing officer's decision need only rest on ‘some evidence' logically supporting it and demonstrating that the result is not arbitrary.” Ellison v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th Cir. 2016); see Eichwedel v. Chandler, 696 F.3d 660, 675 (7th Cir. 2012) (“The some evidence standard . . . is satisfied if there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.”) (citation and quotation marks omitted). The “some evidence” standard is much more lenient than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Moffat ...

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