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Gladney v. Warden

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

December 14, 2018

TONY GLADNEY, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Tony Gladney, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (MCF 17-08-448) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty of attempting to traffick in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policies A-111 and A-113 on October 12, 2017. ECF 1 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 120 days earned credit time and a one-step demotion in credit class. Id. The Warden has filed the administrative record and Gladney filed a traverse. Thus this case is fully briefed.

         The 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, Gladney argues there are three grounds which entitle him to habeas corpus relief.

         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.” Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56. “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 omitted).

         Here, Gladney was found guilty of attempting to traffic in violation of IDOC policies A-111 and A-113. Specifically, IDOC offense A-111 prohibits inmates from “[a]ttempting or conspiring or aiding and abetting with another to commit any Class A offense.” Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I. http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02-04-101APPENDIXI-OFFENSES6-1-2015(1).pdf. The Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders defines “attempt” as “[p]lanning to do something that would be a violation of the[] administrative procedures or any Department or facility rule, procedure or directive if the act had actually been committed or when an offender commits acts which showed a plan to violate the[] administrative procedures or a Department or facility rule, procedure, or direction when the acts occurred.” Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders. http://www.in.gov/ idoc/files/02-04-101TheDisciplinaryCodeforAdultOffenders6-1-2015.pdf. Additionally, IDOC offense A-113 prohibits inmates from ”[e]ngaging in trafficking (as defined in IC 35-44.1-3-5) with anyone who is not an offender residing in the same facility. “ Appendix I, supra. And “[a] person who, without the prior authorization of the person in charge of a penal facility . . ., knowingly or intentionally delivers . . . an article to an inmate . . . of the facility . . . commits trafficking with an inmate, a Class A misdemeanor.” Ind. Code § 35-44.1-3-5(b)(1), (3).

         The Conduct Report charged Gladney as follows:

On August 24, 2017 at approximately 9:30 am I, J. Stoll, received an envelope from the mailroom as part of an investigation pertaining to sprayed letters coming in through the mail. The letter was two pages and appears to have been sprayed, then dried, and had a chemical smell on it. The envelope was addressed to Tony Gladney 168392 and the return address read Casey Moore. I, J. Stoll, did hear various phone calls made between June 15, 2017 and August 19, 2017 that during these phone calls Tony Gladney 168392 and his girlfriend, Casey Moore had a conversation that led me to believe that Casey Moore is sending in sprayed mail and Tony Gladney 168392 was expecting it. During one of the phone calls made on August 16, 2017 Casey Moore told Offender Gladney 168392 that she sent it out and it was two pages. Casey Moore says that the “car” was drenched and she had to use a blow dryer but it looks good.

ECF 5-1 at 1.

Officer Stoll provided a statement about his investigation of the incident:
During the course of Department of Investigation and Intelligence investigation I found that Tony Gladney 168392 conspired with his girlfriend, Casey Moore, to have letters mailed in to him with the pages sprayed.

ECF 5-2 at 1.

         The DHO reviewed the audio recordings of the phone calls between Gladney and Moore and provided a ...


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