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Berry v. Smith

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

July 5, 2018

EARLIE B.A. BERRY, JR., Petitioner,
v.
BRIAN SMITH, Respondent.

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

          Hon. Jane Magntts-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         The petition of Earlie B.A. Berry, Jr. for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISF 17-01-0059. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Berry'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 January 21, 2017, Correctional Officer Cooper wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr.

         Berry with B-235, resisting. Dkt. 9-1. The Conduct Report states:

On 1-21-17, at approximately 1624 pm, I C/O Cooper #260 was conducting an escort of Offender Berry, Earlie DOC# 932151. Just before entering the holding cell in DRHU's lobby, the offender physically resisted by spinning around and pulling his arms from my grip. I identified the offender by his state issued ID and notified him of this conduct report.

Dkt. 9-1 at 1. DRHU refers to the Disciplinary Restrict Housing Unit at Putnamville Correctional Facility (Putnamville). Correction Officer Rigsby submitted a back-up statement, which states:

On 1-21-17, at approximately 1624 pm, I C/O Rigsby #264 observed Offender Berry, Earlie DOC# 932151 physically resist C/O Cooper #260. Just before entering the holding cell in DRHU's lobby, the offender spun around and pulled his arm from C/O Cooper's grip. I identified the offender by his state issued ID and notified him of this conduct report.

Dkt. 9-1 at 2.

         Mr. Berry was notified of the charge on January 25, 2017, when he received the Screening Report. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, requested a lay advocate, and did not request any witnesses. Dkt. 9-3. He asked for the “video” as physical evidence. Id.

         The Disciplinary Hearing Board determined that allowing Mr. Berry to view the video recorded evidence would jeopardize the safety and/or security of the facility. Thus, the hearing officer viewed the video evidence and completed a summary of the video, which states:

On 1.21.17 at approx. 1624 Officer Cooper can be seen escorting you (Berry, Earlie #932151) into the holding cell in DRHU. It appears that once you enter the cell you ...

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