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Vaughn v. Zatecky

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

March 26, 2018

BRONSON VAUGHN, Petitioner,
v.
DUSHAN ZATECKY, Respondent.

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

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         Bronson Vaughn, an Indiana inmate in the custody of the Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”), petitions for a writ of habeas corpus challenging prison disciplinary proceeding number ISR 16-09-0004. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Vaughn's habeas petition is 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 by 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

         IDOC Officer B. Grant charged Mr. Vaughn with assault and battery, a violation of the IDOC's Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders, Appendix I, Section A-102, on August 31, 2016. Officer Grant explained the basis for the charge in a conduct report:

On the above date and approximate time, I, Ofc. B. Gant, was conducting my 11:00-11:30 security walk when Ofd. Pruitt, Dustin #132792 GH 2D-8 stated he had just had feces thrown on him. At that time I noticed what appeared to be fecal matter on the floor, wall, and the door to Ofd. Pruitt's cell. I removed Offender Pruitt from his cell and placed him in a shower. After returning to the area of the assault I was advised by another offender on the 2D Range that offender Vaughn, Bronson #197723 GH 2-D-9 was the one who assaulted Pruitt with bodily waste. It appears that offender Vaughn used a styrofoam cup to throw the fecal matter on Pruitt because after I removed Vaughn from his cell and placed him in a shakedown booth, I conducted a shakedown of Vaughn's cell and found four more styrofoam cups full of fecal matter. Pictures were taken of the cups and the scene.

Dkt. 9-1.

         Mr. Vaughn was notified of the charge on September 7, 2016, when he received the screening report and a copy of the conduct report. Dkt. 9-4. The charge was amended to possession of a deadly or dangerous weapon, a violation of Section A-106. Mr. Vaughn pled not guilty and did not request evidence or witnesses.

         A hearing was held on September 8, 2016. Mr. Vaughn told the hearing officer that the cups of fecal matter were “not a weapon. I had it in my cell. I told the officer I was going to gun [sic] down the range if I didn't get the phone.” Dkt. 9-5. Based on that statement, staff reports, and an evidence card with a picture of the cups, the hearing officer found Mr. Vaughn guilty of the amended charge. Id. The sanctions imposed included ninety days' earned credit time deprivation.

         Appeals to the Facility Head and the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority were unsuccessful. Dkts. 9-6 and 9-7. Mr. Vaughn then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Vaughn presents two grounds challenging his disciplinary conviction. Ground one, restated, asserts that the four cups of fecal matter were not dangerous or deadly weapons. Ground two generally asserts that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction.

         1. ...


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