United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Chandler, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed an amended
habeas corpus petition challenging a disciplinary hearing
(ISP 17-09-107) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO)
found him guilty of sexual contact against staff without
consent in violation of Indiana Department of Correction
(IDOC) Policy B-204 on September 20, 2017. ECF 8 at 1, ECF
14-7 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 90
days earned credit time and demoted one credit class.
Id. The Warden has filed the administrative record
and Chandler filed a traverse. Thus this case is fully
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 amended petition,
Chandler presents a number of grounds he claims entitle him
to habeas corpus relief.
threshold matter, the DHO had sufficient evidence to find
Chandler guilty of sexual contact against staff without
consent. 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
Chandler was found guilty of violating IDOC offense B-204
which prohibits inmates from “[c]ontact of a sexual
nature with a staff person, including contractual staff and
volunteers, which includes intentional touching, either
directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus,
groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any staff person.
(Does not include kicking, punching, or grabbing the genitals
when the intent is to harm or debilitate rather than to
sexually exploit.).” Indiana Department of Correction,
Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I.
Conduct Report charged Chandler as follows:
On Sep. 7, 2017, as I ofc. Rei was doing a security walk at
9:11 pm on the 100W range, I ofc. Rei stopped to talk to a[n]
offender on the rec. pad which happened to be in front of
106W cell. As I ofc. Rei was standing in front of his cell
offender Chandler D.O.C. 138734 grabbed my buttocks. I ofc.
Rei then proceed[ed] to ask offender Chandler “why did
you touch me”? Offender Chandle[r] laughed after I
asked him the question. I ofc. [Rei] proceed[ed] to finish
the security walk and followed proper chain of command.
ECF 14-1 at 1.
video evidence of the September 7, 2017, incident was
reviewed by the DHO and showed the following:
On the above date [9-7-2017] and approximate time of 9:13 PM
Officer B. Rei is walking the 100 West side range in DCH.
There is an offender in the rec area that she stops and talks
to. While she is talking to the offender in the re[c] area,
offender Chandler in D 106 reaches out of his cell and
touched her buttocks. She quickly turns around to face him
and then proceeds down the range.
ECF 14-6 at 1.
assessing the evidence, the DHO determined there was
sufficient evidence in the record to find Chandler guilty of
violating offense B-204. 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 this case, Officer Rei, the
reporting officer, documented the fact that Chandler grabbed
her buttocks when she was performing a security walk on the
100W range of the prison after 9:00 p.m. on September 7,
2017. ECF 14-1 at 1. Here, Officer Rei explained that, when
she stopped to talk with another offender in the recreational
area across from Chandler's cell, he reached out of his
cell and grabbed her buttocks. Id. In light of
Officer Rei's first hand account or personal knowledge of
Chandler's conduct, there was more than “some
evidence” for the DHO to find Chandler guilty of sexual