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Morrow v. Brown

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

July 10, 2018

JOSEPH E. MORROW, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN Warden, Respondent.

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

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The petition of Joseph Morrow for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVE 17-10-0090. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Morrow'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 October 23, 2017, a Conduct Report was issued charging Mr. Morrow with conspiracy to traffick. The Conduct Report states: “On 10/11/2017, during an interview in the Office of Investigations, Armark worker, M. Willard did admit to giving Offender Morrow, Joseph #912838 approximately nine (9) cell phones, K-2 (green leafy substance) and K-2 spray.” Dkt. 7-1 at 1.

         Mr. Morrow was notified of the charge when he received the Screening Report. He pled not guilty and requested a lay advocate, Aramark employee M. Willard as a witness, video evidence, and phone records. Mr. Morrow was not provided with the requested witness or video evidence.

         A hearing was held on November 14, 2017. Based on Mr. Morrow's statement, staff reports, witness statements, and the case file summary, the hearing officer found Mr. Morrow guilty. The sanctions imposed included the deprivation of one hundred days earned credit time, a credit class demotion, and the imposition of a suspended sanction from another disciplinary action.

         Mr. Morrow appealed to Facility Head and the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority, both of which were denied. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Morrow raises three claims in his habeas petition: (1) denial of his requested witness; (2) denial of video evidence; and (3) insufficient evidence to support the finding of guilt. The respondent argues that Mr. Morrow failed to exhaust the first two claims making them procedurally defaulted, and that the third claim lacks merits. The Court will address these issues in turn.

         1. Procedural Default

         The respondent argues that Mr. Morrow's denial of witness and evidence claims are procedurally defaulted because he failed to raise these issues in his administrative appeals. 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 v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002).

         The respondent is correct that in Mr. Morrow's appeal to the Facility Head he only challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and did not raise claims regarding the denial of a witness or evidence. See dkt. 7-11 at 1. Mr. Morrow resists this conclusion by arguing that the respondent's evidence shows he appealed the hearing officer's decision to both the Facility Head and the Final Review Authority. While it is true that Mr. Morrow completed both administrative appeals, to exhaust he must raise each claim he wishes to ...


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