United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
William T. Lawrence, Judge
prison inmate Derrick Martinez-Johnson petitions for a writ
of habeas corpus challenging prison disciplinary proceeding
number WVS 17-06-0009. For the reasons explained in this
Order, Mr. Derrick Martinez-Johnson's petition is
dismissed because administrative remedies
were not exhausted prior to the petition being filed.
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).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
10, 2017, correctional officers were moving Wabash Valley
Correctional Facility (WVCF) inmates from showers to their
cells. As one of the inmates was being escorted past
petitioner Martinez-Johnson's cell, Officer Jones saw
“a swift motion” coming from petitioner's
cell, then saw that the inmate passing the cell was bleeding
from his forearm. The bleeding inmate was quickly escorted
out of the area. Dkt. No. 7-1.
days later, on June 15, 2017, petitioner was notified of the
charge against him, assault/battery with a weapon, a Class A
offense. He pleaded not guilty and requested Officer Jones as
a witness, believing that she would testify that the injured
inmate cut himself on a shower door. Petitioner also
requested video evidence to show that the injured inmate cut
himself on something in the shower. He also requested
statements from other inmates, but those inmates refused to
give statements. Officer Jones left her employment with the
WVCF and was not available to return to the facility for the
disciplinary hearing. Dkt. No. 7-4.
20. 2017, the disciplinary hearing was held. Petitioner was
not allowed, for security reasons, to view the video
evidence, but the hearing officer viewed the evidence and
provided a written summary. It was generally inconclusive but
not exculpatory. Dkt. No. 7-6. Petitioner's statement was
that the evidence was inconclusive - he would have had to
reach out between two people (the inmate and the officer) to
make the assault, and the injured inmate never said that
petitioner did it. Dkt. No. 7-7. No. weapon was ever found.
After considering petitioner's statement, the video
evidence, and staff reports, the hearing officer found
petitioner guilty and assessed sanctions that included the
loss of earned credit time and a demotion in credit earning
immediately appealed to the Facility Head (the Warden, the
respondent in this action). Petitioner signed the appeal form
on June 20, 2017, but dated the form for the next day, June
21. Dkt. No. 7-8. Under Department of Correction policy, the
Warden had thirty days to respond to petitioner's appeal.
Petitioner grew impatient and before the Warden's
decision, on July 7, 2017, he appealed to the Final Reviewing
Authority and indicated, incorrectly, that his first appeal
had been denied. Dkt. No. 7-9. The Final Reviewing
Authority's Appeal Review Officer, J. Lyttle, wrote to
petitioner on July 24, 2017, and advised him that he could
not locate a first appeal to the facility head. Dkt. No.
7-10. He advised petitioner “that [his] appeal is not
properly before the Appeal Review Officer.”
Id. The same day, respondent decided
petitioner's first level appeal and notified him in
writing of the denial. Dkt. No. 7-8.
the top of the appeal form are these instructions for inmates
wishing to appeal from the Warden's unfavorable decision:
“[T]he offender may then forward the appeal, within
fifteen (15) working days of the date the response is
received from the facility head, to the appropriate
Final Reviewing Authority.” Dkt. No. 7-8 (emphasis
added). Petitioner did not make any further appeal to the
Final Reviewing Authority after he received notice of the
docket in this action reflects a filing date of July 25,
2017, just one day after petitioner's facility-level
appeal was denied. Dkt. No. 1. But the envelope petitioner
used to mail it to the Court appears to be postmarked either
July 12 or 19, 2017 (it contains both postmarks), and is
stamped as received by the clerk's office on July 21,
2017. Indiana follows the prison mailbox rule, and
petitioner's habeas corpus petition should have been
filed as of July 12, 2017. That was twelve days before the
Warden denied petitioner's first appeal.
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.
exhaustion of administrative remedies is also required of
prisoner litigants proceeding in civil rights actions. Such
cases can be instructive to assess the question of whether
exhaustion has occurred in a habeas proceeding. “Proper
exhaustion demands compliance with an agency's deadlines
and other critical procedural rules because no adjudicative
system can function effectively without imposing some orderly
structure on the course of its proceedings.”
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81 (2006) (footnote
omitted). Strict compliance is required with respect to
exhaustion, and a ...