United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Simon United States District Judge
Hale, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing (ISP
16-12-114) in which a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO)
found him guilty of battery in violation of Indiana
Department of Correction (IDOC) policy B-212. ECF 1 at 1. As
a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 90 days earned
credit time and was demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit
Class 2. ECF 7-4.
argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because
the DHO did not have sufficient evidence to find him guilty.
In the disciplinary context, “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,
[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
prisoner violates B-212 by, “[c]ommitting a
battery/assault upon another person without a weapon or
inflicting bodily injury.” Adult Disciplinary Process,
Here, the Conduct Report charged Hale as follows:
On 12-9-16 at approx. 8:30pm Capt. S. McCann and myself (Lt.
K. Zimmerman) were reviewing the cameras for a incident (sic)
that occurred in PCU D-Block at approx. 4:48pm. We witnessed
on PCU D-Block upper camera Offender Hale, Michael #884687
PCU D-2-7 spray an unknown liquid substance from his cell
down to the lower range onto Offender Pierce, Ryan #124384
ECF 7-1. Captain McCann submitted a witness statement to the
On December 9, 2016 at 6:00pm Lt. Zimmerman (white) received
a request form from offender Spicer, Wilburn #961376 (white)
PCU D-1-2 stating that offender Hale, Michael #884687 (white)
D-2-7 had been threatening other offenders in D-Block and had
sprayed a liquid substance from his cell onto offender
Pierce, Ryan #124384 (white) D-1-8 at 4:48pm. I, Capt. McCann
(white) reviewed the PCU D-Block upper camera at 4:48pm and
observed a liquid substance being sprayed from Hale's
cell onto Pierce who was standing on the 100 range. Hale was
written up for assault without causing bodily injury (B212),
suicide screened and moved to IDU 1E140.
ECF 7-5. During his hearing, Hale's defense was that
“[t]hey were horseplaying.” ECF 7-4.
had sufficient evidence to find Hale guilty. In prison
disciplinary cases, there need only be a “mere
modicum” of evidence indicating the prisoner's
guilt, and “meager” evidence will suffice.
See Webb, 224 F.3d at 652. In this case, the
DHO's finding of guilt was not arbitrary or unreasonable
in light of the evidence that: (i) Hale threw liquid out of
his cell and toward the open gallery below; (ii) Hale had
previously threatened other offenders in his cell house; and
(iii) the liquid splashed onto an inmate on the lower
appears to argue that the punishment in this case did not fit
the crime, so to speak. However, federal courts have long
recognized the importance of preserving the deference granted
to prison officials in determining day-to-day operational
matters such as prison discipline. See Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 482 (1995). Prison officials, such
as the DHO, are in a better position to appreciate the risk
of future conflict that may arise from one offender's
intrusion upon another offender's bodily integrity
--minor as it may seem to an outside observer. Moreover,
while Hale claims that he was merely “horseplaying,
” and did not intend to splash water on inmate Pierce,
his intent is not relevant to the charged offense. See
Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 847 (7th Cir. 2011) (lack
of specific intent and self-defense are not valid defenses to
assault in the context of a prison disciplinary action). The
DHO had sufficient evidence to find Hale guilty, and thus
Hale is not entitled to habeas corpus relief.
Michael Hale's habeas corpus petition (ECF 1) is
DENIED. The Clerk is ...