United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge
Nelson, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (WCC 15-08-261)
where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty
of threatening in violation of Indiana Department of
Correction (IDOC) Policy B-213 on September 10, 2015. ECF 1
at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 90 days
earned credit time and demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit
Class 2. Id. The Warden has filed the administrative
record and Nelson 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 petition, Nelson
argues there are two grounds which entitle him to habeas
ground in his petition, Nelson asserts the DHO did not have
sufficient evidence to find him guilty. ECF 1 at 2-3. 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
Nelson was found guilty of violating IDOC offense B-213 which
prohibits inmates from ”[c]ommunicating to another
person a plan to physically harm, harass or intimidate that
person or someone else.” Indiana Department of
Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I.
Conduct Report charged Nelson as follows:
On above date and time I Officer Williams was approached by
offender Nelson #934979 who told me that he was a rec worker
and needed to be let out. I told offender Nelson #934979 that
I was only instructed to let out one offender and it was not
him. At this point offender Nelson #934979 became angry and
beligerant [sic] and stated “and y[‘]all wonder
why we go off, and why y[‘]all be having problems with
us.” As I was making my pipe round offender Nelson
#934979 was standing in the bathroom doorway. As I walked by
offender Nelson #934979 stated “I don't know what
her problem is but she got me messed up. She needs to get her
attitude in check before something happens to her.”
ECF 8-1 at 1.
Jason Small and Keith Smith provided statements regarding the
incident. ECF 8-3 at 1, 8-4 at 1. Here, Offender Small
Mr. Nelson asked the officer to call his supervisor because
he was on a count letter to referee a volleyball game, but
the officer would not let him leave. Mr. Nelson then asked
for a white hat, but his request was refused each time.
Someone else asked for a white hat and was refused also.
Later when one came the Sgt apologized because when he called
the rec supervisor he said he was to be released at this
time. The unit ofc began cussing out the Sgt, stormed out
[of] the office slamming the door. Mr. Nelson never made any
threatening [sic] statements.
ECF 8-3 at 1.
Smith also ...