United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Cal, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an amended habeas
corpus petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (IYC
16-09-244) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found
him guilty of trafficking in violation of Indiana Department
of Correction (IDOC) Policy A-113 on October 5, 2016. ECF 6
at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 180
days earned credit time and demoted from Credit Class B to
Credit Class C. ECF 6 at 1, ECF 11-4 at 1. The Respondent has
filed the administrative record and Cal 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, Cal
argues there are three grounds which entitle him to habeas
Cal argues that the DHO did not have sufficient evidence to
find him guilty of trafficking. ECF 6 at 2-3. 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
Cal was found guilty of violating IDOC offense A-113, which
prohibits inmates from “[e]ngaging in trafficking (as
defined in IC 35-44.1-3-5) with anyone who is not an offender
residing in the same facility.” Indiana Department of
Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I.
Conduct Report charged Cal as follows:
On 9/28/2016 at approximately 8:00 am I Investigator C.
Feldkamp conducted an investigation into trafficking at Pen
Products. During an interview with offender Melvin, Cal
#259413 he openly admitted that he participated in a
trafficking ring with other offenders and a staff member at
Pen Products. The information provided by offender Cal during
the interview is supported and substantiated by I&I case
#16 IYC 0139 which remains confidential and is available for
review in the Intelligence and Investigations office upon
request from the appropriate authorities.
ECF 11-1 at 1.
assessing the evidence, the DHO determined there was
sufficient evidence in the record to find Cal guilty of
trafficking. A conduct report alone can be enough to support
a finding of guilt. McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786. Such
is the case here. In the conduct report, Investigator
Feldkamp memorialized the fact that when he interviewed Cal,
he “openly admitted” to his participation in a
trafficking ring with other offenders and an employee of Pen
Products. ECF 11-1 at 1, ECF 14 at 19. In fact, during his
interview with Investigator Feldkamp, Cal admitted that he
“mule[d] the product . . . and distribute[d] [it]
inside of the camp.” ECF 14 at 19. Cal's confession
is sufficient evidence of his guilt. Scruggs v.
Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 940 (7th Cir. 2007) (in assessing
the sufficiency of the evidence, the court “need look
no further than one key piece of evidence: [his]
confession”). However, there is additional evidence in
the record which corroborates Cal's admission that he
participated in the trafficking ring. Notably, a confidential
informant identified Cal as someone who was involved in the
trafficking activities at Pen Products and Cal's
confession was corroborated by incriminating statements from
witnesses as well as documents contained in the confidential
case file. ECF 13, ECF 14, ECF 15, and ECF 17. Given
Cal's admission of guilt, the conduct report, and
information contained in the confidential case file, there
was more than “some evidence” for the DHO to find
Cal guilty of trafficking in violation of offense A-113.
Thus, the DHO's finding that Cal was guilty was neither
arbitrary nor unreasonable in light of these facts.
Therefore, this ground does not identify a basis for habeas
Cal argues that his due process rights were violated because
the DHO denied his request for witnesses and physical
evidence. ECF 6 at 2. Here, Cal alleges that he requested all
of the evidence in this case, including witness statements,
work history documentation, and recorded interviews.
Id. A prisoner has a right to call witnesses and
present documentary evidence in a prison disciplinary
proceeding. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 566. Cal's right
to present evidence was satisfied. During his screening, he
had the right to request witnesses and evidence in his
defense. However, as indicated on his screening report, Cal
did not request any witnesses or physical evidence for his
disciplinary hearing. ECF 11-2 at 1. Furthermore, the court
has thoroughly reviewed the record and finds no evidence to
support Cal's contention that he requested testimonial
and documentary evidence to present at his hearing.
assuming Cal had requested all of the evidence in this case,
he did not necessarily have a right to personally review the
evidence. See White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d
759, 767 (7th Cir. 2001) (“prison disciplinary boards
are entitled to receive, and act on, information that is
withheld from the prisoner and the public . . .”). Here
Cal did not have a right to review the confidential audio and
video recordings, and confidential case file because that
information contains statements from cooperating witnesses,
investigative reports, and personal information. ECF 13, ECF
14, ECF 15, and ECF 17. The release of this confidential
information would have given Cal and other inmates insight
into the surveillance and investigative techniques employed
by the Internal Affairs investigators. The court has reviewed
the audio and video recordings as well as the confidential
case file and finds that the release of this information
would have posed a security threat if it had been released.
also did not have a right to review the confidential audio
and video recordings, and confidential case file because that
information was not exculpatory. Miller v.
Duckworth, 963 F.3d 1002, 1005 (7th Cir. 1992)
(“[i]nmates have a right to present relevant,
exculpatory evidence in their defense”). Exculpatory in
this context means evidence which “directly undermines
the reliability of the evidence in the record pointing to
[the prisoner's] guilt.” Meeks v. McBride,
81 F.3d 717, 720 (7th Cir. 1996). While Cal had a right to
present relevant, exculpatory evidence in his defense, the
audio and video recordings, and confidential case file were
made up of incriminating evidence, which supports the conduct
report. Miller, 963 F.3d at 1005. As stated, the
court has reviewed these confidential materials and notes
they do not contain any exculpatory evidence. Because the
DHO, who presided over Cal's hearing, ...