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Emmert-Stamm v. Knight

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

July 19, 2018

DUSTIN EMMERT-STAMM, Petitioner,
v.
WENDY KNIGHT Superintendent, Respondent.

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

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         The petition of Dustin Emmert-Stamm for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. CIC 17-03-0231. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Emmert-Stamm's habeas petition must be denied.

         A. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits without due process. Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004) (per curiam). 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 March 16, 2017, Officer Vincent wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr. Emmert-Stamm with B-202, possession of a controlled substance. Dkt. 8-1. The Conduct Report states:

On 03-16-2017 at approximately 11:20 pm I Ofc. J. Vincent was conducting a pipe check when I found Offender Emmert-Stamm, Dustin #200710/13A-4D was in the wrong cell. When I went to tell him to go back to his cell I noticed he had an object in his hand believed to be a spice cigarette. I ordered the offender to give me the object and he complied.

Id. Officer Vincent completed an Evidence Record that noted that he had confiscated a piece of brown paper containing smaller pieces of white paper rolled up in cigarette form. Dkt. 8-3 at 4. Officer Vincent also completed a Notice of Property, listing “1 piece of brown paper containing smaller pieces of white paper rolled up in cigarette form, ” which Mr. Emmert-Stamm signed. Dkt. 8-3 at 5.

         Mr. Emmert-Stamm was notified of the charge on March 23, 2017, when he received the Screening Report. Dkt. 8-2 at 1. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, requested a lay advocate, and did not request any physical evidence. Id. He requested Maurice Brownlee as a witness to answer “Is this your object found in your room?” Id. Maurice Brownlee submitted a witness statement in response stating, “yes the brown wraps were mine.” Dkt. 8-3 at 2.

         The prison disciplinary hearing was held on April 5, 2017. According to the notes from the hearing, Mr. Emmert-Stamm stated, “It wasn't mine, they were his.” Dkt. 8-3. Based on the staff reports, Mr. Emmert-Stamm's statement, and the picture of the physical evidence, the hearing officer found Mr. Emmert-Stamm guilty of B-202, possession of controlled substance. The sanctions imposed included thirty days of earned-credit-time deprivation.

         Mr. Emmert-Stamm appealed to the Facility Head and the Indiana Department of Correction (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

         In his petition, Mr. Emmert-Stamm asserts ten grounds to challenge his prison disciplinary conviction: (1) denial of witness; (2) denial of evidence; (3) denial of right to properly prepare defense; (4) denial of right to lay advocate; (5) denial of right to exculpatory evidence; (6) denial of right to a fair hearing; (7) sufficiency of the evidence; (8) denial of right to be heard by an impartial decision maker; (9) denial of right to a copy of the finding of facts; and (10) cruel and unusual punishment and deliberate indifference related to his appeal. Dkt. 1. The respondent argues that Mr. Emmert-Stamm failed to appeal on certain grounds, and that his arguments lack merit. Dkt. 8. In reply, Mr. Emmert-Stamm does not respond regarding his failure to exhaust, and elaborates on his previously raised grounds. Dkt. 9.

         1. Failu ...


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