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Pedroza v. Warden

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

July 18, 2018

PABLO PEDRAZA, Petitioner,
WARDEN, Respondent.


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         The petition of Pablo Pedraza for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISP 17-07-0358. On July 9, 2017, two inmates were assaulted on the recreation yard at Indiana State Prison. They received serious injuries that required treatment at outside hospitals. Mr. Pedraza was charged with participating in the attacks. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Pedraza'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

         The conduct giving rise to the discipline occurred while Mr. Pedraza was housed at the Indiana State Prison. On July 19, 2017, Mr. Pedraza was charged in case ISP 17- 07-0358 with offense A-102/111, conspiracy/attempt/aiding an assault/battery with a weapon. The conduct report states:

On 7/9/2017, at approximately 4:30pm offender Pablo Pedraza #178344 housed in BCH cell 534 went to recreation with his housing unit BCH and units F-dorm and ICH and conspired and or aided in the assault of offender Washington #978703 also from BCH. Washington sustained severe bodily injuries from the assault that required outside medical attention from a local hospital. During the assault on Washington, offender Hawkins #956724 from BCH also sustained severe bodily injuries that required outside medical attention from another hospital to treat his specific type of injuries.
An investigation was launched. During this altercation at recreation in the rec yard, Pedraza was seen kicking Washington while Washington lay on the ground by the basketball court. Pedraza was seen with a weapon (knife) in his hand as he attempted to run away from staff as the area was being secured. Pedraza was seen discarding the weapon and the weapon was found in the outside bathroom where Pedraza was seen discarding it. Pedraza was also seen using the horseshoes as weapons.
Pedraza participated in STG activity with three (3) other Latin King members for this offense.

Dkt. No. 8-1. After the assault, Mr. Pedraza was transferred to Wabash Valley, where the disciplinary process continued.

         On August 4, 2017, Mr. Pedraza was notified of the charge of conspiracy/attempt/aiding in an assault/battery with a weapon and served with a copy of the conduct report and screening report. Mr. Pedraza was advised of his rights, pleaded not guilty, and declined the option to have a lay advocate appointed. Mr. Pedraza requested witness statements from inmates Mr. Mueller and Mr. Washington, and he also requested a video review. Dkt. No. 8-2.

         Mr. Pedraza's disciplinary hearing was postponed once because Wabash Valley was waiting to hear back from the State Prison concerning the video request. On August 16, 2017, the screening officer received an email from personnel at the State Prison confirming that no video was available because there were no video cameras in the area of the yard where the assault occurred. Dkt. No. 8-4.

         The screening officer obtained statements from Mr. Mueller and Mr. Washington. Mr. Mueller stated:

Pablo Pedraza had nothing to do with the incident that took place on July 9, 2017. It was a simple case of being in the wrong place at the right time. If you want to be honest he's a victim who got assault because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore the conduct says the incident occurred at 4:30pm on the rec yard but the facility was on ...

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