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Craig v. Brown

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

March 30, 2018

LARRY CRAIG, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN, Respondent.

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

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

         Larry Craig, an Indiana inmate incarcerated in the Westville Correctional Facility, petitions for a writ of habeas corpus challenging prison disciplinary proceeding held at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, number WVE 16-12-0041. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Craig's habeas corpus 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

         On December 15, 2016, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Sergeant J. Shroyer opened the door of Mr. Craig's cell and observed him swallow something. Sgt. Shroyer charged Mr. Craig with violating Section A-100 of the Adult Disciplinary Code, which makes it an offense to violate any state or federal law. Sgt. Shroyer believed that Mr. Craig, by swallowing something, had obstructed justice, an offense under the Indiana criminal statutes. Ind. Code § 35-44.1-2-2. The conduct report provides:

On 12-15-16 at approx. 10:05 a.m. I Sgt. J. Shroyer did witness offender Craig, Larry #956703 swallow an object when his door opened for a cell search[.]

Dkt. No. 12-1.

         Mr. Craig was notified of the charge on December 16, 2016, when he received a copy of the conduct report and received the screening report. Dkt. No. 12-2. He plead not guilty to the charge.

         A hearing was held on December 20, 2016. Mr. Craig told the hearing officer that “Sgt. Shroyer never saw me put anything in my mouth or swallow anything when they began the shakedown.” Dkt. No. 12-4. Based on this statement and the staff reports, the hearing officer found Mr. Craig guilty of violating section A-100. The sanctions imposed included sixty-days' earned-credit-time deprivation and a credit class demotion. Id.

         Mr. Craig appealed to the Facility Head and the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority; both appeals were denied. Dkt. Nos. 12-5, 12-6. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Five grounds for relief are presented by Mr. Craig in his petition. First, Mr. Craig contends he was denied due process of law when he was not provided with a written statement of the facts relied upon by the disciplinary hearing officer to support the decision. Second, because the hearing officer did not read and explain the sanctions imposed following the finding of guilt, Mr. Craig believes he was denied due process. Third, Mr. Craig had requested a “dry cell” report as evidence for his disciplinary hearing, and contends that the disciplinary hearing officer's denial of that request denied him due process of law. Fourth, he contends there was insufficient evidence to support the hearing officer's decision. Finally, in his fifth ground for relief, Mr. Craig contends his disciplinary hearing officer was biased.

         The Warden asserts that Mr. Craig did not present his first, second, and fifth grounds for relief to the Warden or Superintendent during the administrative appeals ...


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