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Resendez v. Brown

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

October 9, 2018

JOSHUA RESENDEZ, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN, Respondent.

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

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Senior Judge

         The petition of Joshua Resendez for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WCC 17-05-0337. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Resendez'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 May 21, 2017, Officer Buchanan wrote a Report of Conduct in case WCC 17-05-0337 charging Mr. Resendez with “sexual proposal.” The Report of Conduct states:

On the above date and approximate time I Officer Buchanan was conducting a security round on 6 range when Offender Resendez, Joshua #978076 made a comment that he wanted to see my ass and fuck it. I Officer Buchanan told the offender it was inappropriate and told him to stop talking. As I finished my pipe round the comments were still being made.

Dkt. No. 11-1.

         On May 23, 2017, Mr. Resendez was notified of the charge of “sexual conduct” and was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing “Screening Report.” Mr. Resendez was notified of his rights, pled not guilty, and requested the appointment of a lay advocate. Dkt. No. 11-2. He did not request any witnesses or physical evidence.

         On May 26, 2017, the hearing was held in case WCC 17-05-0337. Mr. Resendez's statement was noted as, “In 15 years, I've never had any conduct like this.” Dkt. No. 11-3. Mr. Resendez was found guilty of the charge of sexual conduct. Id. In making this determination, the hearing officer considered staff reports and the offender's statement. The hearing officer recommended and approved the following sanctions: a 28 day loss of phone privileges, a 60 day deprivation of earned credit time, and a previously suspended demotion in credit class from a prior disciplinary conviction. Id.

         Mr. Resendez's appeals to the Facility Head and to the Appeal Review Officer were both denied.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Resendez alleges that his Eight Amendment and due process (under the Fourteenth Amendment) rights were violated in the disciplinary proceeding. The claims asserted in his petition are construed as: 1) the punishment was disproportionate to the conduct; 2) the finding of guilt was contrary to the statement made in the Report of Conduct; and 3) there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction because there was no intercourse or other sexual contact. Dkt. No. 2.

         A habeas action such as this is appropriate to challenge the length or duration of an offender's confinement. It is not the proper vehicle to assert a violation of the Eighth Amendment. To the extent Mr. Resendez argues that the sanction was excessive, this would be a challenge to Indiana Department of Correction policies, which is not reviewable by the federal habeas court. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 at n.2 (1991) (“state-law violations provide no basis for federal habeas review.”); Keller v. Donahue, 2008 WL 822255, 271 Fed.Appx. 531, 532 (7th Cir. Mar. 27, 2008) ...


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