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Chestnut v. Daniels

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

May 23, 2018



          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         On December 12, 2016, petitioner Raymond Chestnut filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging 18 separate disciplinary hearings in No. 2:16-cv-0459-WTL-DKL. The Court determined that each disciplinary proceeding had the status of a separate court proceeding and ordered that 17 new habeas actions be filed. This action relates to Mr. Chestnut's challenge to the disciplinary proceeding that commenced with Report No. 2221354.

         The respondent filed a return to order to show cause. Mr. Chestnut did not reply and the time to do so has passed. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Chestnut's habeas petition must be denied.

         A. Legal Standards

         “Federal inmates must be afforded due process before any of their good time credits-in which they have a liberty interest-can be revoked.” Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011). “In the context of a prison disciplinary hearing, due process requires that the prisoner receive (1) written notice of the claimed violation at least 24 hours before hearing; (2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence (when consistent with institutional safety) to an impartial decision-maker; and (3) a written statement by the fact-finder of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action.” Id.; see also Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570-71 (1974). In addition, “some evidence” must support the guilty finding. Ellison v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th Cir. 2016).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding Regarding Incident Report 2221354

         An Incident Report charging Mr. Chestnut with violating Code 297, use of phone for abuses other than criminal to circumvent the ability of staff to monitor the frequency of telephone use, content of call or number called, stated the following:

On October 13, 2011 at 11:30 a.m., a SIS investigation was completed regarding inmate Chestnut, Raymond #33692-83 contacting another inmate housed at USP Atlanta, who possessed a cellular telephone. This investigator interviewed inmate Chestnut on 10/8/11 and he stated he received the telephone number (423) 383-4624 from a family member in a letter. Chestnut claims he did not known [sic] he was calling an inmate at a Federal Prison on a cell phone. Chestnut called the number twenty-nine times (29) from July 30, 2011 through August 31, 2011. The first time Chestnut called the number, he used inmate Conyers', Anton #15578-171 PAC#.
On August 6, 2011, Chestnut called the number for the first time, using his own PAC#. Chestnut continued to call using his own PAC# through August 31, 2011. On August 23, 2011, at 9:26 A.M., Chestnut placed a call to the cellphone. During the call, Chestnut asked his friend, “Where is your celly from?” On August 23, 2011 at 5:07 P.M., Chestnut makes another call. The call is answered by an unknown inmate. The unknown inmate informs Chestnut, “Hey he will be back. He went to the commissary. He will be back in like 20 minutes.” On August 30, 2011 at 4:30 p.m., inmate Chestnut calls the number again and the second party says, ” how you get out so early?”
Chestnut responds, “they do that. Soon as they clear count, they let us out, here. We lock down at a quarter till four though.[“] Second party replied: “oh ok. Hey look, I gotta run cause we gettin ready to come out too but I gotta run right outside they getting ready to open the doors.” Based on the language used in the telephone calls cited, it is clear inmate Chestnut knew he was calling an inmate housed at a Federal Prison, on a cell phone.

Dkt. 23-13 at 8-11.

         Mr. Chestnut was given a copy of the Incident Report and was informed of his rights. Id. at 11. He said he understood his rights and that he did not know he was calling another inmate. He said he thought the other person “was out in society. The person who gave me the number thought it was from someone on the outside.” Id. He did not request any witnesses at that time. Id. The matter was referred to the Unit Disciplinary Committee (“UDC”).

         Mr. Chestnut appeared before the UDC on October 18, 2011. He elected to have S. Brock serve as a staff representative. Id. at 12. He also requested inmate Conyers as a witness to testify that Mr. Chestnut did not use his PAC number. Id. at 12. The UDC referred the incident report to a Hearing Officer. Id. Mr. Chestnut was advised of his rights before the Hearing Officer. Id. at 13.

         Mr. Chestnut appeared before the Hearing Officer on December 12, 2011. Id. at 16. The Hearing Officer informed Mr. Chestnut of his rights and he stated he understood. S. Brock appeared as Mr. Chestnut's staff representative. Id. Mr. Chestnut denied using another inmate's PAC number and stated he did not know the person he was calling was another inmate. The witness testified that he did not give Mr. Chestnut his pin number to use. Id. at 20. The Hearing Officer concluded that Mr. Chestnut violated Code 299, with conduct which disrupts the orderly running of the institution, most like a violation of Code 297. Id. at 16. The Hearing Officer stated that this finding was supported by the reporting officer's account in the Incident Report, which was corroborated by staff memoranda and more credible than Mr. Chestnut's denial. Id. at 17. The Hearing Officer sanctioned Mr. Chestnut with the loss of twenty-seven (27) days of good conduct time and a one-hundred-eighty (180) day loss of telephone ...

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