United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS,
VACATING SANCTIONS, AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Petitioner William McNeal's
petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Mr. McNeal challenges a
prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR
17-05-0048. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr.
McNeal's habeas petition is GRANTED.
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
March 16, 2017, Mr. McNeal filed a Verified Petition for
Additional Credit Time with the Marion Superior Court. Dkt.
9-1 at 2. Mr. McNeal was requesting that he receive
“credit time for completing the following programs: a.
Celebrate Recovery; b. Inside Out; c. Christian Twelve Steps;
d. Conflict Resolution; and e. Two life skill programs that
are faith based.” Id. at 2-3. On May 1, 2017,
the Marion Superior Court granted the State of Indiana's
motion for summary disposition because these programs were
“not approved by IDOC as programs eligible for
additional credit time.” Id. at 3.
October 31, 2017, Paul Dickson wrote a Conduct Report
charging Mr. McNeal with B243, “filing frivolous
claims.” Dkt. 9-1 at 1. The offense was later amended
to state “filing for ineligible time cuts.”
Id. The Conduct Report states:
On 5/11/17 at 12:18pm, I (Paula Dickson) was notified by
email from Jack Hendrix, Director of Adult Classification
that offender William McNeal 995125 OS 1-28 had written a
lawsuit seeking credit time for programs that were clearly
not eligible for time cuts and the courts ruled in our favor.
After review by legal services and Deputy Attorney General it
has been determined that this falls under ADP 243 filing a
Dkt. 9-1 at 1. The Conduct Report purports to have an
“attached email and copy of lawsuit, ” but only a
copy of the order from the lawsuit was attached. See
Dkt. 9-1 at 2-6. No. email was produced to this Court.
McNeal was notified of the charge on May 12, 2017, when he
received the Screening Report. Dkt. 9-2 at 1. He plead not
guilty to the charge, requested a lay advocate, and did not
request any witnesses. As physical evidence, he requested a
copy of the lawsuit, which was provided to him. Id.
prison disciplinary hearing was held on May 18, 2017.
According to the notes from the hearing, Mr. McNeal stated,
“I was never informed that this was a write-up. I was
just trying to get my time cuts. Some of the guys who turned
their certificates in got time cuts.” Dkt. 9-3 at 1.
Based on the staff reports and “paper  work, ”
the hearing officer found Mr. McNeal guilty of B-243, filing
a frivolous lawsuit. The sanctions imposed included thirty
days of earned credit time deprivation and a credit class
demotion from B to C. Dkt. 9-3 Mr. McNeal appealed to the
Facility Head and the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC)
Final Reviewing Authority, both of which were denied. Dkt.
9-4; Dkt. 9-5. He then brought this petition for a writ of
habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
McNeal challenges his prison disciplinary conviction on two
grounds: (1) sufficiency of the evidence; and (2) Putnamville
Correctional Facility, the facility where he was housed when
he filed the state petition, should have investigated the
situation and not Pendleton Correctional Facility. Dkt. 1 at
3-4. The respondent argues there is some evidence to support
his disciplinary conviction, and Mr. McNeal failed to exhaust
his administrative remedies as to his second ground. Dkt. 9
at 5-12. In reply, Mr. McNeal reiterates the arguments he
raised in his habeas petition and argues that he did include
the second ground in his appeal, attaching a
letter from August 7, 2017, in which he complained of the
issue. See Dkt. 10; Dkt. 10-1 at 18 (August 7, 2017
JPay letter). Mr. McNeal filed an amended reply shortly
thereafter to correct some misprints. Dkt. 12.