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Wells v. Brown

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

May 9, 2018

DICK BROWN, Respondent.

          Frances Hale Barrow INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL


          Jane Magntts-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court.

         The petition of Quanadrel Wells for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVE 16-12-0031. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Wells's habeas petition must be granted.

         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 13, 2016, Investigator Randy VanVleet wrote a Report of Conduct that charged Wells with Class A offense 113, Trafficking. The Conduct Report stated:

On 12/8/16, I, Investigator Randy VanVleet, was conducting a final interview with Quanardel Wells #881139 about an on-going trafficking investigation. During the interview, Wells admitted a former staff member brought him candy, chips, cheese and other foods for him to consume.

         Investigator VanVleet provided a separate Report of Investigation of Incident that stated the following:

On 9-12-16, Offender Quanadrel [sic] #881139 was placed in Restricted housing for investigation purposes. During the initial interview, he denied any trafficking of narcotics or other contraband. He said occasionally he would get a piece of candy from a certain staff member. That staff member was brought up for an interview and quit her contractual job with Aramark in the middle of the investigation. Offender Wells was maintained in RHU and he began writing this staff member. [It] was obvious by the letters that they were in a relationship with each other.
On 12-8-16, I, along with Investigator Travis Davis, interviewed Wells again about this staff member. Wells admitted she brought him candy, chips, cheese and other food items for him to consume. In conclusion, Wells has violated code A-113 (trafficking IC 35-

         Class A offense 113, Trafficking, is defined as “[e]ngaging in trafficking (as defined in IC 35-44.1-3-5) with anyone who is not an offender residing in the same facility.” The cited statute relevantly provides that “(b) [a] person who, without the prior authorization of the person in charge of a penal facility or juvenile facility, knowingly or intentionally: (1) delivers, or carries into the penal facility or juvenile facility with intent to deliver, an article to an inmate or child of the facility … commits trafficking with an inmate, a Class A misdemeanor.” Ind. Code. § 35-44.1-3-5(b)(1).

         On December 14, 2016, Wells was notified of the charge of Class A offense 113, Trafficking, when he was served with the Conduct Report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. Wells was notified of his rights, pleaded not guilty, and waived 24-hour notice of the hearing. He requested and was provided the assistance of a lay advocate. At screening Wells did not request any witnesses or physical evidence, and he remarked “evidence show I was having a relationship to the Aramark staff.”

         Investigator Travis Davis reported by email on December 16, 2016, that he interviewed Wells along with Investigator VanVleet. “During the interview offender Wells did admit to us that a former staff member did bring him in things to eat. He said the former staff member would bring in candy, chips, cheese and things like that for him to consume.” The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in WVE 16-12-0031 on December 20, 2016. Wells said “I hope they took what I said the wrong way. They give us food/leftovers after Aramark dinners. Why didn't they record the conversation[?]” The hearing officer found Wells guilty of Class A offense 113, Trafficking. The hearing officer considered staff reports and Wells's statement. The sanctions were a written reprimand, one-month loss of telephone privileges, six months in disciplinary ...

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