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Hoskins v. Knight

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

June 28, 2018

KEVIN HOSKINS, Petitioner,
STAN KNIGHT, Warden, Plainfield Correctional Facility, [1] Respondent.



         In this habeas action, petitioner Kevin Hoskins challenges a prison disciplinary conviction. The petitioner was found guilty on March 2, 2017, of possession of a cellular device in violation of Code A-121 in IYC 17-02-0163. Sanctions including the deprivation of 120 days of earned credit time were imposed.

         The respondent seeks the dismissal of this action on the grounds that Mr. Hoskins failed to exhaust his administrative appeals process and he has not shown the denial of any clearly established federal right. Mr. Hoskins did not reply to these arguments. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Hoskins' grounds for relief are either procedurally defaulted or not cognizable.

         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. Disciplinary Proceeding

         On February 3, 2017, Officer A. Long wrote a report of conduct in case IYC 17-02-0163 charging Mr. Hoskins with offense A-121, possession of a cellular device. The conduct report states:

On 2-3-17 approximately 715 pm I A. Long was conducting a search of offender Hoskins #120108 bed area while conducting the search I found a black Verizon phone in a boot.

Dkt. 11-1. The conduct report lists Mr. Hoskins' housing unit as OSD 2-74. A photo of the evidence record form and phone was taken. On February 16, 2017, Mr. Hoskins was notified of the charge and served with a copy of the conduct report and a copy of the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing “Screening Report.” Mr. Hoskins was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He requested a lay advocate and one was appointed. Mr. Hoskins requested a witness statement from Offender Jason Reynolds and camera review. Both were provided along with witness statements from two officers.

         On March 2, 2017, the disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) held a disciplinary hearing in case IYC 17-02-163. Mr. Hoskins pleaded not guilty and provided the following statement: “It wasn't my boot. I had only been there two weeks, I didn't have any boots.” The report of disciplinary hearing indicates the DHO considered staff reports, Mr. Hoskins' statement, evidence from witnesses, the photo, and video evidence. The DHO found Mr. Hoskins guilty of A-121 possession of a cellular device and gave a written reason for the decision. The DHO imposed the following sanctions: 120 days' loss earned credit time, and a suspended demotion in credit class from class B to class C.

         Mr. Hoskins appealed the disciplinary action to the facility head on March 5, 2017, which was denied on March 20, 2017. He argued that the conduct report contained errors, that his transfers made it difficult to get witness statements, and that the hearing should have been conducted within seven days according to policy. Dkt. 11-12. Mr. Hoskins appealed to the final reviewing authority for the Indiana Department of Correction on April 3, 2017. In this appeal Mr. Hoskins argues that the phone was found in a common area and that there was a delay between the incident and hearing date. Dkt. 11-13. This appeal was denied on April 5, 2017.

         C. Exhaustion

         To succeed on a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, a petitioner must first “exhaust[ ] the remedies available in the courts of the State.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). “Indiana does not provide judicial review of decisions by prison administrative bodies, so the exhaustion requirement in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) is satisfied by pursuing all administrative remedies.” Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002). “[W]hen the habeas petitioner has failed to fairly present ... the claim on which he seeks relief in federal court and the opportunity to raise that claim in state court has passed, the petitioner has procedurally defaulted that claim.” Perruquet v. Briley, 390 F.3d 505, 514 (7th Cir. 2004). Fair presentment requires a petitioner to “put forward [the] operative facts and controlling legal principles.” Simpson v. Battaglia, 458 F.3d 585, 593 (7th Cir. 2006) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

         In Indiana, only the issues raised in a timely appeal to the Facility Head and then to the Indiana Department of Correction Appeals Review Officer or Final Reviewing Authority may be raised in a subsequent Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A); Eads v. Hanks, 280 F.3d 728, 729 (7th Cir. 2002); Moffat, 288 F.3d at 981. The respondent argues that Mr. Hoskins failed to exhaust the administrative appeals process as to certain claims, and because the time to complete such ...

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