United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
French's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges
his disciplinary conviction in WVCF 17-08-0020 on August 11,
2017. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr.
French's habeas petition must be denied.
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
to Mr. French, on August 6, 2017, Sgt. Vrzina and Officer
Roessler came to his cell. Mr. French and his cellmate, Mr.
Cannon, were present at the time. The inmates were told that
the officers were going to shake them down and directed the
inmates to exit the cell. Mr. French explains that there was
no reason to search the cell and that this action was taken
to harass the inmates because Sgt. Vrzina and Mr. French do
not like each other. Five minutes into the search, Sgt.
Vrzina approached the inmates with two empty containers and
asked who they belonged to. Mr. Cannon indicated that the
containers belonged to him. Sgt. Vrzina asked if either had
been drinking and both inmates said no. Sgt. Vrzina stated
that the containers had the odor of an intoxicant. At that
time, inmate Mr. Cannon explained that the bottles did not
contain an intoxicant, but did contain apple juice from the
day before. Sgt. Vrzina continued shaking down the cell and
after about ten minutes again asked Mr. French and Mr. Cannon
if either of them had been drinking. Mr. French responded in
a sarcastic tone of voice that maybe he was tipsy, maybe he
wasn't. Sgt. Vrzina became upset and stated that because
Mr. French wanted to be a “smart ass, ” he would
write both inmates up for possession of an intoxicant for the
two empty containers. Mr. French then asked for a
breathalyzer test to prove he had not been drinking. Sgt.
Vrzina said that was not necessary because he was writing the
inmates up for possession of an intoxicant and not for being
under the influence of an intoxicant. See dkt. 10 (Memorandum
in support of reply).
disciplinary record is not inconsistent with Mr. French's
version of events. That record reflects the following. On
August 6, 2017, Sergeant Vrzina wrote a Conduct Report
charging Mr. French with B-231, making, possessing, or being
under the influence of intoxicants. The Conduct Report
On 8/6/17 at approx. 1:50 pm I, Sgt. Vrzina, along with Ofc.
Roessler conducted a cell search of GHU 105. During the
search I located two plastic containers that were empty but
still had the odor of an intoxicant. When I confronted
Offender French about drinking he did state that he was tipsy
and had drank a little bit of wine. Offender French, Roman
#900271 and Offender Cannon, Joseph #221230 reside in GHU
Dkt. 8-1. The conduct report listed Officer Roessler as a
witness and indicated that the confiscated property was
forwarded to Master Control. The confiscated property was
photographed. See dkt. 8-3 (photo of Folgers can and
Dkt. 8-3 at p. 1 (image modified for sizing purposes).
Roessler wrote the following statement in support of the
On 8/6/17 at approximately 1:50 PM I, Ofc. Roessler, did
witness Sgt. Vrzina locate two empty bottles having the odor
of an intoxicant in GHU 105. When Sgt. Vrzina confronted
Offender French, Roman #900271 about drinking he stated that
he was tipsy and that he had drank a little bit of wine.
Offender French, ...