United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Keplinger, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (ISP 16-8-305)
where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty
of aiding in the battery of staff in violation of Indiana
Department of Correction (IDOC) Policies A-111 and A-117 on
September 9, 2016. ECF 7-3 at 1. As a result, he was
sanctioned with the loss of 120 days earned credit time and
the imposition of a previously suspended sanction of 90 days
of lost earned credit time. Id. The Respondent has
filed the administrative record and Keplinger filed a
traverse. Thus this case is fully briefed.
Fourteenth Amendment guarantees prisoners certain procedural
due process rights in prison disciplinary hearings: (1)
advance written notice of the charges; (2) an opportunity to
be heard before an impartial decision-maker; (3) an
opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary
evidence in defense, when consistent with institutional
safety and correctional goals; and (4) a written statement by
the fact-finder of evidence relied on and the reasons for the
disciplinary action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S.
539 (1974). To satisfy due process, there must also be
“some evidence” in the record to support the
guilty finding. Superintendent, Mass. Corr Inst. v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985). In his petition,
Keplinger argues there are two grounds which entitle him to
habeas corpus relief.
first asserts that the DHO did not have sufficient evidence
to find him guilty. ECF 1 at 1. In the context of a prison
disciplinary hearing, “the relevant question is whether
there is any evidence in the record that could support the
conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.”
Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455-56 (1985).
“In reviewing a decision for some evidence, courts are
not required to conduct an examination of the entire record,
independently assess witness credibility, or weigh the
evidence, but only determine whether the prison disciplinary
board's decision to revoke good time credits has some
factual basis.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d
784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (quotation marks omitted).
[T]he findings of a prison disciplinary board [need only]
have the support of some evidence in the record. This is a
lenient standard, requiring no more than a modicum of
evidence. Even meager proof will suffice, so long as the
record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings of the
disciplinary board were without support or otherwise
arbitrary. Although some evidence is not much, it still must
point to the accused's guilt. It is not our province to
assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the
disciplinary board's decision.
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000)
(quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis
Keplinger was found guilty of violating IDOC offenses A-111
and A-117, for aiding in the battery of staff. IDOC offense
A-111 prohibits inmates from “[a]ttempting or
conspiring or aiding and abetting with another to commit any
Class A offense.” Indiana Department of Correction,
Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I.
IDOC offense A-117 prohibits inmates from “[c]ommitting
battery/assault upon any staff person, including contractors
and volunteers, which results in bodily injury or serious
bodily injury (including the throwing of body fluids or waste
on a staff person).” Id.
Conduct Report charged Keplinger as follows:
On 8/23/2016 Offender Keplinger was observed by Investigator
Dustin tampering with the locking device of Offender
Bardlette #120178 handcuffs, loosening them so that Offender
Bardlette could assault staff. Due to Offender
Keplinger's aiding and abetting Offender Bardlette, staff
were injured and would not have been without Offender
ECF 7-1 at 1.
written video summary states:
Offender Bardlette is on the range in IDU 200 East side
cuffed behind the back. Sgt. T. Reed and Officer R. Westman
are shaking down offender Bardlette's cell. He is seen
walking down the range towards the back of IDU 200 East.
At approx. 9:50AM offender Bardlette goes to offender
Keplinger's cell IDU 248 East. You can see him turn
around and offender Keplinger is tampering with the cuffs
that offender Bardlette has on his wrists. He looks to be
A short time later at approx. 9:52AM offender Bardlette walks
up the range, cuffs off and assaults Sgt. Reed. A fight is
seen and offender Bardlette is seen running down the 200 East
range to the 100 East range. Sgt. Reed is ...