Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Townsend v. Zatecky

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

March 26, 2018

JAMES TOWNSEND, Petitioner,
v.
S. ZATECKY, Respondent.

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

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA

         The petition of James Townsend for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR 16-12-0095. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Townsend'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 December 22, 2016, Officer Spangler issued a Report of Conduct to Townsend for a violation of Code A-106, possession of dangerous/deadly contraband/property. Dkt. 7-1. The Report of Conduct stated:

On the above date and approximate time I, Ofc. Spangler, was assigned to use the cell sense during the lunch feed. As Offender Townsend, James (132515) walked past the cell sense it was set off. I then instructed Offender Townsend to walk past it. After going past the cell sense for a second time, the cell sense was set off again. I then escorted Offender Townsend to a holding cell in the D.O. where a strip search was conducted. I then began to go through his clothes where in his black basketball shorts I found a black marker. I then took the black marker apart where I found a nail wrapped in toilet paper with a hole in the cap.

Id.

         An officer gave Mr. Townsend notice of the offense on January 7, 2017, but the screening was terminated when Mr. Townsend “became argumentative about the presentation of the evidence.” Dkt. 7-6. “Offender states the the [sic] photo presented was not of the item he is being charged for. I ended the screening at this time.” Id. “Offender states the evidence is wrong. He says that the nail was inside the marker and not sticking out of it like it is in the picture!” Id.

         After multiple postponements, the disciplinary hearing was held on January 31, 2017. Dkt. 7-8. Mr. Townsend's statement was recorded as: “The evidence was tampered with. They messed up at the screening. I didn't even get screened. They don't even have the right DOC # on evidence card.” Id. The hearing officer found Mr. Townsend guilty based on the staff reports and physical evidence. Id. The recommended and approved sanctions included a written reprimand, loss of privileges, disciplinary segregation, 90 days of lost credit time, and a demotion from credit class 2 to credit class 3. Id. The hearing officer imposed the sanctions because of the serious of the offense, frequency and nature of the offense, the degree to which the violation disrupted or endangered the security of the facility, and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on the offender's future behavior. Id.

         Mr. Townsend appealed to the Facility Head and the Final Reviewing Authority. Both appeals were denied. Dkt. 7-13, dkt. 7-14. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Townsend argues that his due process rights were violated during the disciplinary proceeding. His claims are that: 1) the evidence was tampered with, improper chain of custody; 2) the wrong offender identification number was on the evidence card; and 3) he was denied screening and his witness statement.

         Mr. Townsend first argues that there were two pictures of the evidence of the nail inside the marker. He alleges the evidence was “tampered with.” During screening, Mr. Townsend stated that “the nail was inside the marker and not sticking out of it like it is in the picture!” Dkt. 7-7. The Conduct Report described the dangerous/deadly contraband as “a nail wrapped up in toilet paper with a hole in the cap” of a black marker. Dkt. 7-1. Mr. Townsend's second claim is that the wrong identification number was on the evidence card. The Court discerns no material difference between the two photographs, nor has Mr. Townsend identified any error in chain of custody. Dkt. 7-2, dkt. 7-5. Both photographs depict a marker from which a nail is protruding through the cap. Moreover, the identification number on the card was #132615 before it was corrected to #132515. Dkt. 7-3. A single digit was ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.