United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.
petition of Robert Decker for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No.
2933670. For the reasons explained in this Entry,
Mr. Decker's habeas petition must be
inmates seeking to challenge the loss of good time credits in
prison disciplinary proceedings on due process grounds may
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2241. See Smith v. Bezy, 141 Fed.Appx. 479,
481 (7th Cir. 2005). In the prison disciplinary context, due
process requires that the prisoner receive (1) written notice
of the disciplinary charges at least 24 hours before the
hearing; (2) the opportunity to be heard before an impartial
decision maker; (3) an opportunity, when consistent with
institutional safety and correctional goals, to call
witnesses and present documentary evidence in his defense;
and (4) a written statement by the factfinder of the evidence
relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action.
Superintendent Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S.
445, 454 (1985); McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784,
785-86 (7th Cir. 1999); see, e.g., Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 564-71 (1974).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
Decker is a federal inmate currently incarcerated at the
United States Penitentiary located in Marion,
Illinois. On December 28, 2016, while incarcerated
at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, Florida, Mr. Decker
received an incident report for Use of Telephone for an
Illegal Purpose, Code 197, and Introduction or Making of
Narcotics, Code 111(a). Mr. Decker received a copy of the
incident report on December 29, 2016. The incident report
states that Mr. Decker had a telephone conversation with a
female caller who discussed bringing the “bread and
butter.” The writer of the incident report states that
“bread and butter” is often slang for money and
heroin. The caller also told Mr. Decker that she “got
what you want” and would “put it in a plastic
bag, ” to which Mr. Decker replied, “no, just put
it in a condom.” In another telephone call on the same
day, a female discusses bringing a phone and pills to Mr.
Decker the following day.
Decker's disciplinary hearing was conducted on January
19, 2017. The parties dispute whether Mr. Decker requested a
staff representative or to call witnesses. The hearing
officer found that Mr. Decker had used a telephone for an
illegal purpose. The hearing officer did not find that Mr.
Decker had violated Code 111(a), Introduction of Any
Narcotics. Mr. Decker's sanctions included the loss of 40
days of good-time credit.
parties dispute whether Mr. Decker exhausted his
administrative remedies before bringing this petition for
writ of habeas corpus. The respondent filed his return to the
order to show cause on May 9, 2018. Mr. Decker filed his
reply on June 1, 2018. The action is now ripe for review.
preliminary matter, the respondent argues that Mr. Decker
failed to exhaust his available administrative appeals
regarding the issues in the petition. In Lambrix v.
Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 524 (1997), “the Supreme
Court noted that its cases have ‘suggest[ed] that the
procedural-bar issue should ordinarily be considered
first.' Nevertheless, added the Court, it did ‘not
mean to suggest that the procedural-bar issue must invariably
be resolved first; only that it ordinarily should
be.'” Brown v. Watters, 599 F.3d 602,
609-10 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Lambrix, 520 U.S. at
case, considering petitioner's claims on the merits
rather than first resolving the exhaustion issue will most
likely promote judicial economy. The review permitted of the
challenged proceeding is narrow, and is based on an expanded
record of the charge, notice, evidence, hearing, and
decision. It appears to be an inefficient use of the
Court's resources and the parties' time to become
invested in untangling the parties' dispute about whether
Mr. Decker exhausted his administrative remedies.
Mr. Decker's Grounds for Relief
Mr. Decker sought to challenge three disciplinary actions in
one petition,  it is difficult to discern what grounds
for relief he alleges in each action. His petition raises
twenty grounds for relief. Because some of the grounds for
relief are repetitive or are not directed at the conduct
report at issue in this action, the Court construes the
petition to raise the following claims:
1. The revocation of good-time credit violates the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
2. Mr. Decker was denied a staff representative.
3. Mr. Decker was not allowed to call witnesses or present
evidence in his defense.
4. Mr. Decker was deprived of good-time credit while he was a
5. Mr. Decker attempted to exhaust his administrative
remedies but those remedies were made unavailable to him