United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DISCUSSING EVIDENTIARY HEARING, DENYING
PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE
petition of Eugene Bowers for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No.
WVD 16-01-0085. For the reasons explained in this Entry,
Mr. Bowers's habeas petition must be
Findings of Fact
A. Procedural History
disciplinary action that underlies Mr. Bowers's habeas
petition began with a January 16, 2016 Conduct Report, in
which Sgt. Lantrip charged Mr. Bowers with threatening -
B213. The Conduct Report states:
On 1/16/2016 at approx. 0615 I Sgt. S. Lantrip was feeding
cell 212 where Offender Bowers, Eugene #882244 1S on
Icrash. When I opened up the cuffport Offender
Bowers leaned down to the cuffport and stated “you have
to open my door sometime and when you do I will kill
Bowers previously filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus
in Bowers v. Brown, 2:16-cv-152-JMS-MJD, challenging
the disciplinary proceedings in WVD 16-01-0085. In that
petition, Mr. Bowers stated that he did not receive written
notice of the charges at least twenty-four hours before the
disciplinary hearing. The respondent filed a return arguing
that Mr. Bowers received all the due process he was due and
introduced a Screening Report dated January 21, 2016, which
stated that Mr. Bowers was notified of the threatening charge
but refused screening.
the above evidence left the Court with two mutually exclusive
versions of events, the Court issued an Entry Discussing the
Need for Evidentiary Hearing or Vacation of Disciplinary
Sanctions. Id., dkt. 17. The respondent chose to
vacate the disciplinary sanctions and notified Mr. Bowers of
this decision on March 6, 2017. Id., dkt. 18-1. The
Court dismissed the petition as moot on March 8, 2017, after
the respondent filed a motion to dismiss. Id., dkt.
19. After the Court's dismissal of Mr. Bowers's
initial petition, the Indiana Department of Corrections
(“IDOC”) began disciplinary proceedings
related to WVD 16-01-0085 anew, which are outlined below.
The Disciplinary Proceeding
March 2017, Officer Shaye Byers was the conduct adjustment
board screening officer at New Castle Correctional Facility
(New Castle). As screening officer, Officer Byers
reviews the conduct reports with the offenders, explains the
charges, notifies the offenders of their rights, determines
whether the offenders want to call any witnesses or present
any evidence, obtains their pleas, and notifies offenders of
the date of the disciplinary hearing. The IDOC has a screening
checklist that the screening officer uses during screening.
Ex. 1, p. 6. The purpose of the checklist is to ensure
that the screening officer follows the screening guidelines.
When screening is completed, the screening officer gives the
checklist to the hearing officer.
March 8, 2017, Sgt. Logan escorted Mr. Bowers into a
conference room at New Castle. Officer Byers was in the room
when Mr. Bowers arrived. Mr. Bowers sat down, and Officer Byers
immediately notified him of the order issued on March 6, 2017
by J. Lyttle vacating the sanctions imposed in WVD 16-01-0085
and setting the matter for a rehearing. Ex. 1, p. 9;
Bowers v. Brown, 2:16-cv-152-JMS-MJD, dkt. 18-1.
Although Mr. Bowers had previously read the letter from
Lyttle, he stated he was not going to sign the document and
directed Officer Byers's attention to the entry issued by
this Court that dismissed the first disciplinary proceedings
as moot when the IDOC vacated the sanctions. Mr. Bowers's
protests establish that he was clearly aware that the report
presented by Officer Byers was related to the disciplinary
sanctions raised in the previously dismissed lawsuit. Officer
Byers then read each conduct report to Mr. Bowers.
at some point in the screening process, Mr. Bowers stopped
Officer Byers and she suspended the screening because in her
view, Mr. Bowers was refusing to cooperate. Officer Byers
wrote on each conduct report that Mr. Bowers refused
screening. Ex. 1, p. 2. Officer Byers also wrote on the
screening report that Mr. Bowers refused screening. Ex. 1, p.
3. Sgt. Logan also signed next to where Officer Byers wrote
“refused, ” although he did so at the direction
of Officer Byers and not based on personal observation.
Id. Copies of the screening report and conduct
report are normally sent back with the offender once the
screening process is over. If the offender is restrained, it
is Officer Byers's habit to send the papers back with the
escorting officer. Id.
Bowers's screening checklist in WVD 16-01-0085, Officer
Byers verified Mr. Bowers's name and IDOC number and
circled “no” to the question “Does the
offender wish to be screened[.]” Id. She also
did not circle an answer to seven questions that followed.
Ex. 1, p. 6.
Bowers states that he never received the conduct report or
screening report relating to disciplinary proceeding WVD
16-01-0085 and was never given an opportunity to sign them.
Ex. 1, pp. 2-3. Mr. Bowers never received a copy of the
notices of lay advocate or witness. Ex. 1, p. 4. Mr. Bowers
states that he did not refuse to sign these documents.
disciplinary hearing was held on March 15, 2017, for both WVD
16-01-0084 and WVD 16-01-0085. IDOC employees, Officers
Nickoe Rucker and Donald Taylor, arrived at Mr. Bowers's
cell on March 15, 2017 to escort him to the disciplinary
hearing. They instructed him to cuff up and he told them he
was not leaving his cell. Officers Rucker and Taylor signed
the report of disciplinary hearing which stated that Mr.
Bowers refused to attend the disciplinary ...