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Bennett v. Knight

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

May 2, 2018

MAURICE BENNETT, Petitioner,
v.
WENDY KNIGHT, Respondent.

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

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         The petition of Maurice Bennett for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. CIC 17-04-138. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Bennett'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 April 12, 2017, Correctional Officer E. Boner wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr. Bennett with use or possession of a cellular phone. The Conduct Report states:

On 04/12/2017 at approx.. 8:10 AM, I Officer E. Boner conducting [sic] a shakedown of Offender Bennett, Maurice #974997 18B-3D. Upon entering cell 183D, I noticed Offender Bennett on the bottom bunk and hesitant to stand up. I ordered Offender Bennett to exit his bed and quit moving around, he then recovered to my possession a reading light that had been altered to be used as a cellular phone charger. Once Offender Bennett had been stripped out, I Officer Boner along with Officer J. Matlock escorted the Offender to D unit Control area. I Officer Boner then ordered Offender Bennett to submit to mechanical restraints, at which he complied. Once in restraints I then lifted Offender Bennett's shirt up and search [] his medical colostomy bag, I then recovered a black AT&T phone approximately 3 ½ inches long, along with two packages of an unknown substance, appearing to be narcotics.

Dkt. 13-1.

         Photos were taken of the cell phone and Mr. Bennett received a notice of confiscated property form. Dkt. 13-1, p. 6.

         Mr. Bennett was notified of the charge on April 15, 2017, when he received the Screening Report. He pled not guilty to the charge, did not request a lay advocate, did not request any witnesses, and did not request any physical evidence. Dkt. 13-2.

         The disciplinary hearing was held on April 18, 2017. Mr. Bennet provided the following statement: “Nothing to say.” Based on the staff reports, the offender's statement, and physical evidence (pictures of the cellular phone), the hearing officer found Mr. Bennett guilty of possession of a cellular device. The sanctions imposed included: a written reprimand, 206 days earned credit-time deprivation, and a demotion from credit class 2 to credit class 3.[1]

         Mr. Bennett appealed to the Facility Head and his appeal was denied. He appealed to the Indiana Department of Correction Final Reviewing Authority and his appeal was denied. Mr. Bennett then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         In his petition, Mr. Bennett lists three grounds on which he challenges his prison disciplinary conviction: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support a guilty finding; 2) he was denied ...


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