United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
R. SWEENEY II JUDGE
Bennett's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges
his conviction in prison disciplinary case number CIC
17-04-0139. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr.
Bennett's petition is granted.
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 (Piggie II), 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir.
2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir.
The Disciplinary Proceeding
case CIC 17-04-0139 was initiated by the following conduct
report issued by Correctional Officer E. Boner on April 12,
On 04/12/2017 at approx 8:10 AM, I Officer E. Boner
conducting a shakedown of Offender Bennett, Maurice #974997
18B-3D. I, Officer E. Boner along with Officer J. Matlock,
escorted Offender Bennett to D Unit Control Area. Once in the
control area, I ordered Offender Bennett to submit to
mechanical restraints at which he complied. I Officer E.
Boner then lifted up the shirt of Offender Bennett and
searched his medical colostomy bag. Upon searching the
colostomy bag, I Officer E. Boner recovered two pieces of
paper folded tightly in a packaged fashion. Inside was a
white powdery substance, and once tested was found to be
cocaine. Offender Bennett, admitted to myself that the
substance was indeed cocaine. This is a violation of Indiana
Law, IC 35-48-4-6 Possession of Cocaine.
Bennett was charged with possession of cocaine. He received
notice of the charge and the conduct report on April 15,
2017; was convicted at a hearing; and received sanctions.
However, the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) vacated
the sanctions and set the matter for rehearing after Mr.
Bennett challenged his conviction in this Court through a
petition for a writ of habeas corpus. See no.
Bennett received notice of the rehearing on November 17,
2017. Dkt. 19-4. The screening report presented to Mr.
Bennett on that date indicates that he was unable to write on
or sign the notice because his hands were bound in
restraints. Id. However, M. Christy made several
notations on Mr. Bennett's behalf. Id. Two of
those notations are relevant to this proceeding.
Mr. Bennett requested that he be permitted to present a
statement by another inmate, Terrel Sims. Id. Mr.
Bennett stated that Mr. Sims would testify that Mr. Bennett
was not shaken down as described in the conduct report and
never possessed the substance described in the report.
Id. Mr. Sims furnished a written statement saying,
“No officers ever went to his cell to shake down his
room nor did he possess anything that they are saying he
possessed.” Dkt. 19-7.
the screening report states that Mr. Bennett wished for the
“substance to be tested.” Dkt. 19-4. Sergeant
Jeremiah Pardue served as the disciplinary hearing officer
(DHO) in CIC 17-04-0139. In an affidavit, Sgt. Pardue
attested that he interpreted this notation on the screening
report as conveying that Mr. Bennett wished specifically for
the hearing officer to have the substance tested.
Dkt. 19-13 at ¶ 5. Sgt. Pardue further attested that
this interpretation led him to retrieve the substance from
the investigations department on the morning of November 22,
2018, the day of Mr. Bennett's rehearing. Id. at
¶ 6. Sgt. Pardue says he then observed someone-it is not
clear who-test the substance and that the test was positive.
Pardue attests that his retrieval of the substance is
documented in the evidence record for CIC 17-04-0139.
Id. at ¶ 7. However, the evidence record
presented in this case conflicts with that statement in at
least three respects. First, the evidence record bears a
different case number- CIF-17-0129. Dkt. 19-3 at 7. Second,
the final three entries on the evidence log show the
substance being moved (1) from storage to the internal
investigations office at 1:45 P.M. on November 9, 2017; (2)
from the internal investigations office back to storage at
3:15 P.M. that afternoon; and (3) from storage back to the
internal investigations office at 7:17 A.M. on November 22,
2017. Id. In other words, the evidence log does not
show the substance being removed from the investigations
department on the morning of the rehearing. Finally, Sgt.
Pardue's signature-at least the signature appearing on
the hearing report-does not appear anywhere on the evidence
record. Compare Id. to dkt. 19-9.
is no evidence before the Court of any other test of the
substance attributed to Mr. Bennett. Neither the evidentiary
record nor the briefing provides any reference to the testing
that Officer Boner stated identified the substance as cocaine
in his incident report, which was drafted seven months ...