United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Sanchez, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (ISP 17-07-167)
where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty
of possession of a dangerous or deadly weapon in violation of
Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Policy A-106 on July
14, 2017. ECF 1 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the
loss of 60 days earned credit time and demoted from Credit
Class 1 to Credit Class 2, which was suspended. Id.
The Warden has filed the administrative record and Sanchez
filed a traverse. Thus this case is fully briefed.
Fourteenth Amendment guarantees prisoners certain procedural
due process rights in prison disciplinary hearings: (1)
advance written notice of the charges; (2) an opportunity to
be heard before an impartial decision-maker; (3) an
opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary
evidence in defense, when consistent with institutional
safety and correctional goals; and (4) a written statement by
the fact-finder of evidence relied on and the reasons for the
disciplinary action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S.
539 (1974). To satisfy due process, there must also be
“some evidence” in the record to support the
guilty finding. Superintendent, Mass. Corr Inst. v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985). In his petition, Sanchez
presents a number of grounds he claims entitle him to habeas
ground, Sanchez asserts that the DHO did not have sufficient
evidence to find him guilty. ECF 1 at 2. In the context of a
prison disciplinary hearing, “the relevant question is
whether there is any evidence in the record that could
support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary
board.” Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445,
455-56 (1985). “In reviewing a decision for some
evidence, courts are not required to conduct an examination
of the entire record, independently assess witness
credibility, or weigh the evidence, but only determine
whether the prison disciplinary board's decision to
revoke good time credits has some factual basis.”
McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir.
1999) (quotation marks omitted).
[T]he findings of a prison disciplinary board [need only]
have the support of some evidence in the record. This is a
lenient standard, requiring no more than a modicum of
evidence. Even meager proof will suffice, so long as the
record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings of the
disciplinary board were without support or otherwise
arbitrary. Although some evidence is not much, it still must
point to the accused's guilt. It is not our province to
assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the
disciplinary board's decision.
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000)
(quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis
Sanchez was found guilty of violating IDOC offense A-106
which prohibits inmates from “[p]ossession or use of
any explosive, ammunition, hazardous chemical (e.g., acids or
corrosive agents) or dangerous or deadly weapon.”
Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process:
Appendix I. http://www.in.gov/idoc/
Conduct Report charged Sanchez as follows:
On 7-10-17 at about 10:25 am I Sgt. Reed was searching the
cell of Sanchez 204751. I found a metal round rod sharpened
to a point on one end. This was hidden inside some conduit in
assessing the evidence, the DHO determined there was
sufficient evidence in the record to find Sanchez guilty of
possessing a dangerous or deadly weapon. A conduct report
alone can be enough to support a finding of guilt.
McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786. Such is the case here.
In the conduct report, Sergeant Reed detailed his discovery
of a round metal sharpened rod inside the conduit in the
ceiling of Sanchez's cell. ECF 5-1 at 1. A photograph
taken of the deadly rod corroborates the conduct report. ECF
5-3 at 2. In light of Sergeant Reed's discovery of the
deadly rod in the ceiling conduit of Sanchez's cell,
coupled with the photographic evidence, there was more than
“some evidence” for the DHO to conclude that
Sanchez possessed the rod in violation of offense A-106.
Sanchez argues that the deadly rod could have been hidden by
an inmate who had been previously housed in his cell. ECF 1
at 5. But here he seems to believe that only one person can
be in possession of contraband at a time. However, that is
not the case under IDOC policy. The IDOC defines possession
as being “[o]n one's person, in one's quarters,
in one's locker or under one's physical control. For
the purposes of these procedures, offenders are presumed to
be responsible for any property, prohibited property or
contraband that is located on their person, within their cell
or within areas of their housing, work, educational or
vocational assignment that are under their control. Areas
under an offender's control include, but are not limited
to: the door track, window ledge, ventilation unit, plumbing
and the offender's desk, cabinet/locker, shelving,
storage area, bed and bedding materials in his/her housing
assignment and the desk, cubicle, work station and locker in
his/her work, educational or vocational assignment.”
The Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders. http://www.
6-1-2015.pdf. In other words, multiple offenders may have
control over a space, and multiple offenders can be in
possession of contraband. See Hamilton v.
O'Leary, 976 F.2d 341, 346 (7th Cir. 1992)
(discovery of weapon in area controlled by four inmates
created twenty-five percent chance of guilt supporting
disciplinary action). Notably, there is no evidence in the
record to suggest that Sanchez shared his cell with any other
inmate or that any other inmate had access to the part of the
cell where the weapon was found. Thus, Sanchez's
contention is without merit.
also asserts that the only evidence against him was Sergeant
Reed's uncorroborated statement that he found the deadly
rod after conducting a shakedown of his cell. ECF 1 at 2-3.
He claims that Sergeant Reed was “never in [his]
cell” and did not actually shakedown his cell.
Id. Here, Sanchez is asking the court to reweigh the
evidence but that is not the role of the court.
McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786 (the court is not
“required to conduct an examination of the entire
record, independently assess witness credibility, or weigh
the evidence.”). Rather, it is the court's role to
determine if the DHO's decision to revoke good time
credits has some factual basis. Id. As discussed,
the conduct report details Sergeant Reed's discovery of
the deadly rod in the ceiling conduit in Sanchez's cell,
which is corroborated by photographic evidence.
Hill, 472 U.S. at 456-57 (“the relevant
question is whether there is any evidence in the record that
could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary
board.”). Therefore, because the DHO's finding was
neither arbitrary nor unreasonable in light of the facts
presented in this case, this ground does not state a basis
for habeas corpus relief.
petition, Sanchez argues his due process rights were violated
because his requests for a cell inspection sheet and video
evidence were denied. ECF 1 at 2-3. During his screening,
Sanchez requested a cell inspection sheet “prior to
[his] move” into his cell and video evidence which
showed the “shakedown process in [his] cell” and
that “[he] was not present at the time.” ECF 5-2
at 1. Inmates have a right to present relevant, exculpatory
evidence in their defense. Miller v. Duckworth, 963
F.3d 1002, 1005 (7th Cir. 1992). Exculpatory in this context
means evidence which ...