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Tripp v. Smith

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

May 23, 2018

TERRY TRIPP, Petitioner,
v.
BRIAN SMITH, Respondent.

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

          Hon. Jane Magntts-Stinson, Chief Judge

         The petition of Terry Tripp for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISF 17-08-0157. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Tripp'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 August 9, 2017, Correctional Officer Laloux issued a Report of Conduct charging Mr.

         Tripp with a violation of Code B-215 for unauthorized possession of state property. The Report of Conduct states:

ON 8-09-17 AT APPROX 1455PM I OFFICER B. LALOUX #40 WHILE DOING A PROPERTY SEARCH OF OFFENDER TRIPP, TERRY #103679 BED AREA(11SD-39D) DID FIND IN HIS PROPERTY BOX A BOOK TITLED “PRISONERS' SELF-HELP LITIGATION MANUEL”. [sic] OFFENDER TRIPP IS UNAUTHORIZED TO POSSESS THIS ARTIC[LE] AS IT BELONGS TO THE LAW LIBRARY. OFFENDER TRIPP WAS IDENTIFIED BY HIS STATE ISSUED ID, GIVEN A CONFISCATION SLIP, AND ADVISED OF HIS CONDUCT REPORT.

Dkt. 10-1. Mr. Tripp was notified of the charge on August 14, 2017, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 10-2. The Screening Officer noted that Mr. Tripp requested statements from Ms. Burrows and Mr. Williams. Id. The Screening Officer also noted that he requested the photo copy of the book. Id.

         Ms. Burrows submitted a statement that provides, “The book was made prior to me working in there. I never gave permission to Tripp or any other offender to possess the book outside of the Law Library. Offenders are only permitted to have this book while in the Law Library.” Dkt. 10-3. (capitalization modified). When asked if it was a photo copy and if it was made by Burrows for Mr. Tripp, Mr. Williams replied, “The binder copy of the original book is made for every offender [to] use while in Law Library. We do not make binder books to sell to offenders.” Dkt. 10-4. (capitalization modified).

         The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on August 18, 2017. Dkt. 10-9. The Hearing Officer noted that Mr. Tripp “request[ed] 353 - unauth[orized] poss[ession] of property.

         Going home in 60 days. Was given book by another offender who worked there previously. Had book for months.” Id.

         The Hearing Officer determined that Mr. Tripp had violated Code B-215 after considering the staff reports, the statement of the offender, and the evidence from the witnesses. Id. The sanctions imposed included a written reprimand, a restriction of J Pay privileges, and the deprivation of 90 days of earned credit time. Id.

         Mr. Tripp appealed to the Facility Head and the Final Reviewing Authority, both of which were denied. He then brought this petition for a writ of ...


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