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Gosha v. Brown

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

May 21, 2018

TODD GOSHA, Petitioner,
v.
DICK BROWN, Respondent.

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

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         Todd Gosha's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges his conviction in a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVS 17-04-0004. For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. Gosha's habeas petition must be denied.

         I. 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).

         II. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         Mr. Gosha's disciplinary proceeding arises from allegations that, on April 12, 2017, he collected two cups of feces in his own cell, reached them through his cell's “cuff port, ” and threw the feces through the open cell door of his neighbor, Cameron Mayfield.

         On April 18, 2017, Lieutenant Gary McMillin prepared a conduct report stating:

On 4/18/17 I Lt. McMillin received a note stating that on 4/12/17 an offender had thrown feces into a cell from his cuff port. Upon reviewing the video I seen Offender Gosha, Todd 167028 cell B East 305 stick his arm out of his cuff port (305) and throw 2 cups of feces into cell 304, while the offender's door was open for work detail. The video review was on camera SCU B-Ease B3E and B-3 Dayroom. Times at 6:48:27pm to 6:48:54pm.

Dkt. No. 9-1. On the same date, Mr. Gosha was charged with violating § 106 of the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) disciplinary code, “Possession of Dangerous/Deadly Contraband/Property.” Dkt. No. 9-3.

         Mr. Gosha collected statements from three correctional officers and presented them at his hearing. Officer R. Campbell stated that, although he was working nearby, he did not see Mr. Gosha throw feces into Mr. Mayfield's cell and that Mr. Mayfield had not informed him of the incident. Dkt. No. 9-6. Officer K. Hasler stated that, around 8:30 P.M. on April 12, Mr. Mayfield called Officer Hasler to his cell and accused Mr. Gosha of throwing feces into the cell. Dkt. No. 9-7. Officer Hasler's statement indicates that he could not see or smell feces in the cell at that time. Id. Officer Reed stated that, around 6:30 A.M. on April 13, Mr. Mayfield requested clean clothes and bedding because Mr. Gosha had thrown feces into his cell. Dkt. No. 9-8. Officer Reed also stated that he did not see or smell feces on the range or in the laundry barrel near Mr. Mayfield's cell. Id.

         On April 25, 2017, Mr. Gosha was found guilty following a hearing. Dkt. No. 9-5. The hearing officer indicated that he reached his decision after considering the conduct report, staff reports, Mr. Gosha's statement in his own defense, witness statements, and Mr. Mayfield's note originally reporting the incident. Id. The hearing officer imposed sanctions including a written reprimand, 36 days' lost phone privileges, three months in disciplinary restrictive housing, 63 days' lost good-time credit, and a one-step demotion in credit class. Id.

         Mr. Gosha appealed the hearing officer's decision to the warden and to the IDOC's final reviewing authority without success. Dkt. Nos. 9-9, 9-10. After reconsidering the appeal, however, the final reviewing authority reduced the charge to § 228, “Possession of Altered Property.” The final reviewing authority reasoned that Mr. Gosha “possessed and modified use of a drinking cup to hold and throw feces (modifying the intended use of the drinking cup for the purpose of using it as a weapon).” Dkt. No. 9-11. Mr. Gosha's sanctions were not adjusted.

         III. Analysis

         Mr. Gosha raises two challenges to his conviction, and both concern the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. First, Mr. Gosha asserts that he was convicted based solely on Mr. Mayfield's allegations. Dkt. No. 2 at 3. Second, he argues that “Screening Officer S. McMillin did not take my witness statements into consideration when he found me guilty.” Dkt. No. 2 at 3. The Court construes this as ...


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