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Webb v. Brown

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

July 25, 2018

JAMES WEBB, Petitioner,
v.
DICK BROWN, Respondent.

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

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         The petition of James Webb for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVD 17-07-0078. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr.

         Webb's habeas petition must be granted.

         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

         Mr. Webb was charged with having violated a state law, obstruction of justice pursuant to IC § 35-44.1-2-2, under rule number 100A. The conduct report states:

On 7/12/17 at approximately 7:10 a.m. I, Sgt. R. Vrzina, was conducting a strip search of Offender Webb, James #920832. While conducting the search I noticed that Offender Webb was holding what appeared to be two folded pieces of paper. I instructed Offender Webb to drop what he was holding in his hand and take a step back. He immediately placed the items in his mouth and swallowed them.

Dkt. 14-1.

         On July 13, 2017, the conduct report was mailed to Mr. Webb, because he was in restricted segregation housing. Also mailed on July 13, 2017, was the screening report wherein Mr. Webb pleaded not guilty, requested a lay advocate, declined to call any witnesses, and requested the video of the strip search. Dkt. 14-2.

         The disciplinary hearing was held on July 20, 2017. Mr. Webb requested the testimony of two officers. The hearing officer denied this request as untimely and irrelevant. Dkt. 14-6. The hearing officer considered the staff reports, Mr. Webb's statement, and the video evidence and found Mr. Webb guilty of the charge. Dkt. 14-3. Mr. Webb's sanctions included the loss of one credit class. Dkt. 14-3.

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

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Webb's petition raises several grounds for relief. But because the Court finds one of the grounds to be dispositive, it will not review the other grounds. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the hearing officer denied Mr. Webb due ...


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