United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge United States District Court
petition of Ethan James for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No.
CIC 17-03-0204. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr.
James's habeas petition must be denied.
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).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
March 14, 2017, Officer J. McGriff wrote a Conduct Report
charging Mr. James with a violation of Code A-111/A-113,
conspiracy or attempting to engage in trafficking. The
Conduct Report states:
On 03/14/17 at approximately 11:30 AM I, Officer J. McGriff,
while conducting a shakedown in cell 15-4B. While searching
the middle desk drawer I found a small folded piece of paper.
Upon further reading it was talking about something that was
suppose [sic] to happen but did not and about meeting up at
church on Sunday and getting a couple sticks of
“Katie”. K-2 spice. To the best of my training
“Katie” is slang for K2 spice. It had Offender
James, Ethan DOC# 260088 (15B-4B) first name at the bottom he
claimed ownership of it.
Dkt. 11-1 at 1. Mr. James was also provided with a Notice of
Confiscated Property that identified a “kite” and
listed “unauthorized” for the reason of
confiscation. Dkt. 11-1 at 3. A photograph of the note was
11-1 at 4-5.
James was notified of the charge on May 12, 2017, when he
received the Screening Report. He pleaded not guilty to the
charge, requested a lay advocate, and did not request any
witnesses. Dkt. 11-2 at 1. He requested, as physical
evidence, the “paper that was found.”
prison disciplinary hearing was held on May 20, 2017. The
hearing officer allowed Mr. James to see the note at the
disciplinary hearing, but he was not provided a copy to keep.
Dkt. 11-6. Mr. James explained the note was his but argued
“I have no reason to traffick [sic], I am trying to go
home. There is no reason for me to traffick [sic]. I had the
note.” Dkt. 11-3. Based on the staff reports and Mr.
James's statement, the hearing officer found Mr. James
guilty of conspiring to traffic. The sanctions imposed
included sixty-six (66) days of earned-credit-time
deprivation and a two-level credit class demotion.
James 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.