United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr. JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Christmas, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (ISP 17-07-307)
in which a hearing officer found him guilty of making or
possessing intoxicants in violation of Indiana Department of
Correction policy B-231 on July 21, 2017. As a result, he was
sanctioned with the loss of 30 days earned credit time. The
Warden has filed the administrative record and Mr. Christmas
filed a traverse, making the case ripe for ruling.
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 the due process requirement, 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, Mr. Christmas argues there are two grounds which
entitle him to habeas corpus relief.
first ground, Mr. Christmas contends there was insufficient
evidence for the hearing officer to find him guilty. 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.” Supt. v. Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-456.
“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
Christmas was found guilty of making or possessing
intoxicants in violation of IDOC policy B-231, which
prohibits inmates from ”[m]aking or possessing
intoxicants, or being under the influence of any intoxicating
substance (e.g., alcohol, inhalants). Indiana Department of
Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I.
conduct report charged Mr. Christmas as follows:
On 7-17-17 at approx 8:45 am I officer French found
intoxicants in the cabinet in offender Christmas 128467 and
it tested positive for alcohol.
ECF 5-1 at 1.
Officer Brown provided this statement about the incident:
On 7-17-17 at approx. 8:45 am I Officer Brown saw Officer
French find intoxicants that tested positive for alcohol in
the cabinet in offender 128462 B224.
ECF 5-2 at 1.
hearing officer provided the following written summary of the