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Sims v. Knight

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 12, 2018

TARRELL SIMS, Petitioner,
v.
WENDY KNIGHT, Respondent.

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

          HON. WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The petition of Tarrell Sims for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. CIC 17-04-0039. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Sims' 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

         Mr. Sims was charged with offense B-202, possession or use of a controlled substance in case CIC 17-04-0039. The Report of Conduct stated:

On 4-3-17 at app. 1:00am, I Officer J. Renick conducted a sha[ke]-down in 14B-3B. At this time I found two pieces of rolled burnt paper that appeared to contain a controlled substance. The items w[]ere found on the desk in room 14B-3B where Offender Sims, Tarrell #242115 lives. The items were confiscated and placed in an evidence[] locker. End of Report.

Dkt. No. 8-1.

         Investigator Steven Hall confirmed that the item found in Mr. Sims' desk violated Code B-202. Dkt. 8-3. The Suspicious Controlled Substance Confirmation form stated that a chemical test was not available, but that the circumstances indicated that the items found were synthetic marijuana. Id.

         On April 6, 2017, Mr. Sims was notified of the charges and served with copies of the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. No. 8-4. Mr. Sims was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. Id.

         Mr. Sims requested a lay advocate, and one was later appointed to him. Dkt. No. 8-4, Dkt. No. 8-5. Mr. Sims also requested the test of the controlled substance as evidence. Dkt. No. 8-4. He did not request any witnesses. Id.

         On April 18, 2017, the disciplinary hearing office (DHO) held a hearing in case CIC 17-04-0039. Dkt. No. 8-7. Mr. Sims pleaded not guilty and made the following comment: “It happened on April 1st. Nothing happened on the 3rd.” Id. After considering staff reports and Mr. Sims' statement, the DHO found Mr. Sims guilty of offense B-202, possession or use of a controlled substance. Id. Due to the seriousness, frequency, and nature of the offense, the DHO imposed the following sanctions: a written reprimand, 30 days loss of phone or commissary privileges, and 60 days earned credit time deprivation. Id.

         On April 20, 2017, Mr. Sims appealed the disciplinary conviction to the Superintendent, who then denied the appeal on May 31, 2017. Dkt. 8-8. Mr. Sims' subsequent appeal to the final reviewing authority for the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) was denied on June 20, 2017. Dkt. No. 8-9 at 13.

         C. ...


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