Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Niccum v. Knight

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 27, 2018

JOHN NICCUM, Petitioner,
STAN KNIGHT, Respondent.


          William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge [*]

         John Niccum, an inmate in the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC), petitions for the reversal of the disciplinary sanctions he received in IDOC proceeding number IYC 17-08-0130 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Niccum was found guilty of assault and battery while he was incarcerated at the Plainfield Correctional Facility. His petition, for the reasons explained below, is denied.

         I. Overview

         Indiana prisoners may not be deprived of credit time, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004), or of credit-earning class, Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641, 644-45 (7th Cir. 2001), without some due process of the law. See Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985). These due process protections include: 1) advanced written notice of the charges; 2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in his defense; 3) a written statement by the factfinder of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action; and 4) a disciplinary decision that is supported by “some evidence.” Id. (citing Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-67 (1974)); see also Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674 (7th Cir. 2003).

         II. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On July 10, 2017, Niccum was charged, in a conduct report written by Investigator C. Feldkamp, with “Class A” offense “conspiracy to commit assault and battery causing serious damage (111A/102A).” ECF No. 10-2. Feldkamp investigated an altercation that Niccum participated in. Id. Feldkamp reported that, after the altercation, Niccum had injuries on his person which were consistent with being in an altercation. Id. He also reported that Niccum was uncooperative with investigators and denied being in an altercation; rather, he asserted that he attained the injuries from a fall. Id. A confidential incident report attached to the conduct report indicated that, after Niccum was taken for medical treatment for his injuries, the remaining inmates on his unit were physically examined. ECF No. 12-1. During this examination, it was discovered that another inmate had marks visible and consistent with an assault. Id. During questioning, the other inmate stated he was involved in an altercation with Niccum due to Niccum owing him money and that Niccum may have hit the corner of the urinal during the altercation. Id.

         On August 15, 2017, the prison served Niccum with a copy of his conduct report and a notice of disciplinary hearing (screening report). ECF No. 10-3. He pleaded not guilty and requested a lay advocate. Id. Though Niccum did not request any witnesses or physical evidence, he did ask for his medical records and to review the confidential report. Id.

         At the August 20, 2017 disciplinary hearing, the hearing officer found Niccum guilty of the “Class B” offense “assault and battery (212B).” ECF No. 10-5. The officer found Niccum guilty of the “Class B” offense “assault and battery (212B).” Id. The officer based his decision on the staff report, Niccum's statement, the medical records, and the confidential report. Id. The hearing officer imposed sanctions of sixty (60) days loss of good time credit and a demotion of credit class from Class 1 to Class 2. Id.

         Niccum appealed the disciplinary hearing. ECF No. 10-6. He argued that there was insufficient evidence to support guilt. Id. He also argued that he requested video tape evidence and was told it did not exist, despite another officer informing him that the investigator had reviewed the video during the investigation. Id.

         Niccum's appeal was denied on September 5, 2017. The facility head found that the evidence and documentation supported the hearing officer's decision and sanctions. Id. Niccum appealed this decision. ECF No. 10-7. On November 30, 2017, the appeal review officer denied the appeal. Id. The officer found no procedural or due process error and found sufficient evidence supported the decision. Id.

         On January 2, 2018, Niccum filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 2. On January 10, 2018, Respondent was ordered to show cause as to why relief should not be granted. ECF No. 6. On March 29, 2018, Respondent filed his return on the order to show cause, asking that the petition be denied. ECF No. 10. Although Niccum was given twenty-eight days to file a response to the return, he failed, even to this day, to do so.

         III. Analysis

         Niccum alleges that his due process rights were violated because there was insufficient evidence, and because he was denied video evidence and the opportunity to call witnesses.

         Turning first to his claim that he was denied the opportunity to call witnesses, this claim fails for at least three reasons. First, Niccum failed to exhaust his administrative remedies on this ground. Before a federal court may grant habeas relief, a prisoner must first exhaust his state remedies, which requires the inmate to give the state an opportunity to act on his claims before he presents them to a federal court in a habeas petition. O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A). In order to exhaust his administrative remedies, a prisoner must have presented each claim he seeks to raise in his federal habeas petition at each level of the prison disciplinary appeals process. Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981-82 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing O'Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 838). Respondent argues that during his appeal, Niccum only raised claims of insufficient evidence and being denied video evidence. Respondent's argument is supported by Niccum's appellate documents, which only show ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.