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Dawson v. Zatechy

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

March 27, 2018

LYMAN DAWSON, Petitioner,
v.
DUSHAN ZATECHY, Respondent.

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

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court

         The petition of Lyman Dawson for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR 16-06-0032. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Dawson'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 June 7, 2016, Investigator D. Wilson wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr. Dawson with B-209, impairment of surveillance. Dkt. No. 8-9. The Conduct Report states:

On 06/07/2016, at approximately 12:55 PM, I, Investigator D. Wilson, was reviewing video footage observed Offender Wesley Willis #207998 give Offender Lyman Dawson #150147 (range detail) something through the cuff port. Offender Lyman then took this and put it over the camera on the 6B range blocking the surveillance.
Maintenance workers went over to HCH [to] clean the camera and notified me that the camera was destroyed beyond repair.

Dkt. No. 8-9.

         Mr. Dawson was notified of the charge on June 10, 2016, when he received the Screening Report. Dkt. No. 8-17. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, requested a lay advocate, and did not wish to call any witnesses. Id. He requested to review the video evidence - “I want the actual physical camera to be viewed, I did not destroy it.” Id. The disciplinary hearing board determined that allowing the offender to view the video recorded evidence would jeopardize the safety and security of the facility, so a summary of the video recording was prepared. Dkt. No. 8-19. The video summary stated, “the video was reviewed. The video showed that the conduct report was accurate. Offender is guilty in destruction of camera surveillance.” Id. (capitalization modified). The Court reviewed the video, which was submitted ex parte. The video shows Mr. Dawson peering suspiciously up at the camera, going to an offender's cell and retrieving an unknown object, returning to the camera, and defacing and damaging the camera cover. Dkt. No. 12 (ex parte).

         The prison disciplinary hearing was held on June 15, 2016. According to the notes from the hearing, Mr. Dawson stated: “[t]he other offender got wrapped up in this. He had no part of this incident.” Dkt. No. 8-16. Based on the staff reports, Mr. Dawson's statement, evidence from witnesses, and the physical evidence of the video and conduct report, the hearing officer found Mr. Dawson guilty of B-209, impairment of surveillance. The sanctions imposed included ninety days of earned-credit-time deprivation (suspended) and a credit class demotion. Mr. Dawson appealed to the Facility Head on June 21, 2016. Dkt. No. 8-15. On July 18, 2016, Mr. Dawson's appeal was granted and he was granted a rehearing on the grounds that he was not provided with physical evidence or an explanation for the denial at his hearing. Dkt. No. 8-14.

         Mr. Dawson was re-notified of the charge on August 10, 2016, when he received the Screening Report again. Dkt. No. 8-8; Dkt. No. 13 at 5. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, requested a lay advocate, and did not wish to call any witnesses. Dkt. No. 8-8; Dkt. No. 13 at 5. He requested the destroyed camera as physical evidence because “it was not replaced.” A note was later added: “[e]vidence denied due to safety/security. Photo provided in lieu of physical camera. Statement from Camera maintenance staff included.” Dkt. No. 8-8.

         The prison disciplinary rehearing was held on August 18, 2016. Dkt. No. 8-7. According to the notes from the hearing, Mr. Dawson stated: “I don't know nothing I guess. I watched the maintenance guy repair the camera. He just replaced the cover not the whole camera.” Dkt. No. 8-7. At the hearing, the evidence considered included staff reports, Mr. Dawson's statement, evidence from witnesses, the statement from Callahan (presumably a member of the maintenance staff) (Dkt. No. 8-11), a memo from Utility Captain Conyers (Dkt. No. 8-10), and a photo of the damaged camera (Dkt. No. 8-12). In an email dated June 8, 2016, the facility's utility captain, Michael Conyers, sent an email that noted that one of the newly installed cameras in the H & J Cell House had been destroyed. Dkt. No. 8-10. Additionally, William Callahan sent a message on August 11, 2016, which noted that there were no available replacement parts for the cameras, and that the damage to the cover of the camera was not covered under the manufacturer's warranty. Dkt. No. 8-11. Callahan stated, “[p]hysical damage to any part of a camera results in having to replace the camera.” Id. Based on the evidence, the hearing officer found Mr. Dawson guilty of B-209/240, impairment of surveillance. The sanctions imposed included ninety days of earned-credit-time deprivation and a credit class demotion.

         Mr. Dawson appealed to the Facility Head and the 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. Dawson presents four grounds on which he challenges his prison disciplinary conviction, but each of his grounds includes a few sub-parts. The grounds are best summarized as: (1) an expungement, not a rehearing, was the appropriate remedy for his first appeal; (2) failure to identify the maintenance worker who notified Investigator Wilson that the camera was damaged to allow him to get a statement from the maintenance worker; (3) denial of his request to call maintenance worker as a witness; (4) failure to show him evidence of the physical camera to show it was not destroyed; (5) failure to show him video tapes (raised in reply); (6) insufficient evidence to convict him; (7) “credit time” was taken without a proper hearing; (8) the hearing report did not provide information on what information was relied on and why; and (9) failure to have a hearing to address the value of the property for the ...


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