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Manly v. Superintendent

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

September 7, 2018

JAMES E. MANLEY, Petitioner,


          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         James Manley's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as NCF 17-09-0085. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Manley's habeas petition must be denied.

         I. 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).

         II. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         Mr. Manley is an inmate at New Castle Correctional Facility (NCCF). As an inmate at NCCF, Mr. Manley has been involved in numerous disciplinary proceedings. This action concerns his conviction for being a “habitual rule violator” in violation of Code B-200 of the Indiana Department of Correction's (IDOC) Adult Disciplinary Process.

         On September 22, 2017, NCCF employee A. Petty filed a conduct report stating that he became aware that Mr. Manley had violated Code B-200 while reviewing conduct reports. Dkt. No. 7-1. “He has been found or plead (sic) guilty to five related or unrelated class C conduct offenses in a period of six months or less according to OIS.” Id. Records from the Offender Information System (OIS) indicate that Mr. Manley was sanctioned in six disciplinary proceedings between August 14 and September 21, 2017, all for violating Code C-356, “refusing an assignment.” Dkt. No. 7-2.

         On September 26, 2017, Mr. Manley received written notice that he had been charged with violating Code B-200 and that he would have a hearing “within 7 work days.” Dkt. No. 7-3. The notice did not specify when in that timeframe the hearing would take place. Id. The notice also did not identify what prior disciplinary actions served as the basis for the habitual violator charge. Id.

         Mr. Manley was found guilty at a hearing on September 28, 2017. Dkt. No. 7-5. The hearing officer's report indicates that he made his decision after reviewing the OIS record of Mr. Manley's disciplinary proceedings, staff reports, and a statement and other documents Mr. Manley presented in his defense. Id. The hearing officer recommended sanctions including the loss of 90 days' earned credit time and a demotion in credit-earning class. Id. Mr. Manley filed two appeals, and both were denied. Dkt. Nos. 7-13 and 7-14.

         III. Analysis

         Mr. Manley challenges his conviction in disciplinary proceeding NCF 17-09-0085 on several grounds, each of which the Court addresses below. First, though, the Court will address two overarching issues that permeate Mr. Manley's other challenges to this conviction.

         First, many of Mr. Manley's challenges to his habitual violator conviction are based on attacks on the validity of his previous, underlying convictions for refusing assignments. The Court cannot entertain these arguments.

         “[A] habeas corpus petition must attack the fact or duration of one's sentence; if it does not, it does not state a proper basis for relief.” Washington v. Smith, 564 F.3d 1350, 1350 (7th Cir. 2009). Typically, in the context of prison disciplinary proceedings, this means that in order to be considered “in custody, ” the petitioner must have been deprived of good-time credits, Cochran, 381 F.3d at 639, or of credit-earning class, Montgomery, 262 F.3d at 644-45. When such a sanction is not imposed, the prison officials are “free to use any procedures it chooses, or no procedures at all.” Montgomery, 262 F.3d at 644. A disciplinary conviction does not open the door to a federal challenge to an earlier, underlying disciplinary conviction that did not itself implicate the prisoner's custody. See Wilson-El v. Finnan, 544 F.3d 762, 765-66 (7th Cir. 2008) (“The concern the Court expressed for finality, and its willingness to give that concern priority even in the face of earlier convictions that may have been tainted by the Sixth Amendment violation of ineffective assistance of counsel, suggest to us that the Court would frown on any holding that opened the door in the present situation to collateral attacks on underlying disciplinary convictions.”).

         Mr. Manley's previous convictions for refusing assignments did not result in a credit time deprivation or credit class demotion. See Dkt. Nos. 7-15-7-20. He therefore cannot challenge those convictions in this habeas action, ...

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