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Marvel v. Smith

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

August 27, 2018

KYLE MARVEL, Petitioner,
v.
BRIAN K. SMITH, Respondent.

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

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Kyle Marvel's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges his disciplinary conviction in ISF 17-11-0270, for offense B-202, possession of a controlled substance. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Marvel'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

         On November 20, 2017, Mr. Marvel was charged with offense B-202, possession of a controlled substance. The conduct report stated:

On 11-20-17 at approximately 0730 am in 16 North, I officer Alber . . . was performing a shakedown of offender Kyle Marvel #249180 . . . when I found a small gray bag with multiple folded up papers with crystal like powder in his property box. I advised him of the conduct report and identified him by his state issued i.d.

Dkt. 7-1. Photographs were taken and sent to internal affairs (IA). Dkt. 7-3. Mr. Marvel was provided with a notice of confiscated property form. Dkt. 7-2.

         On November 22, 2017, Mr. Marvel was provided a copy of the Report of Conduct and Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Mr. Marvel was notified of his rights and he pleaded not guilty. Mr. Marvel did not request any witnesses but did request the “evidence sent to lab.” Dkt. 7-5. A field test referred to as “Methamphetamine/MDMA (Ecstasy) Reagent field test 15” was positive for methamphetamine. Dkt. 7-4.

         On November 28, 2017, the disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) held a hearing. Dkt. 7-7. Mr. Marvel pleaded not guilty and the hearing officer recorded Mr. Marvel's comment as follows: “someone told the c/o I had something. Claims this is neuroten. Not on meds.” Id. The evidence requested at screening was considered and the hearing officer relied on the staff reports and Mr. Marvel's statement in finding Mr. Marvel guilty of offense B-202, possession of a controlled substance. The DHO imposed the following sanctions: a written reprimand, 20 hours of extra work duty, and the imposition of the suspended demotion from credit class B to credit class C.[1]

         Mr. Marvel 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

         Mr. Marvel raises three grounds in support of his petition for habeas relief. Each ground for relief is discussed below.

         First, Mr. Marvel claims that the DHO did not rely on the evidence he specifically asked for and based a guilty finding off of faulty staff assumptions. Dkt. 2 at p. 3. Due process requires “prison officials to disclose all material exculpatory evidence, ” unless that evidence “would unduly threaten institutional concerns.” Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 847 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation and quotation marks omitted). In the prison disciplinary context, “the purpose of the [this] rule is to insure that the disciplinary board considers all of the evidence relevant to guilt or innocence and to enable the prisoner to present his or her best defense.” Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted). Evidence is exculpatory if it undermines or contradicts the finding of guilty, see id., and it is material if disclosing it creates a “reasonable probability” of a different result, Toliver v. McCaughtry, 539 F.3d 766, 780-81 (7th Cir. 2008). The disciplinary record in this case does not support Mr. Marvel's argument. The DHO, Angela Hooker, specifically testified that she considered staff reports, Mr. Marvel's statement, and the ...


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