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Holland v. Warden

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

January 25, 2019

WARDEN, Respondent.



         This matter is before the Court on the Petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as NCF 18-01-0029. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Holland's habeas petition must be denied.

         A. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits or of credit-earning class without due process. Ellison v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th Cir. 2016); Scruggs v. Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir. 2007); see also Rhoiney v. Neal, 723 Fed.Appx. 347, 348 (7th Cir. 2018). The due process requirement is satisfied with: 1) the issuance of at least 24 hours advance written notice of the charge; 2) a limited opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence to an impartial decision-maker; 3) a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the evidence justifying it; and 4) “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); see also Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011) (same for federal inmates).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On January 4, 2018, Mr. Holland was charged with offense B-202, possession of a controlled substance in case NCF 18-01-0029:

On the above date and approximate time, I Officer Griswold conducted a random shakedown on Offender Holland, Gregory DOC #162169. Upon searching his box that had his I.D. and Mail that had his name and DOC # on them. In his possession I found an eye dropper bottle which contained a honey colored liquid substance. I took substance to Internal Affairs to test. Investigator B. Privett tested substance with a Nark II field testing kit. Test results came up positive for Synthetic Cannabinoids. Offender Holland, Gregory DOC #162129 was informed of this conduct report. End Report.

Dkt. 7-1. Pictures and the notice of confiscated property form were attached to the conduct report.

         On January 5, 2018, Mr. Holland was provided with copies of the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). He was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. Dkt. 7-6; dkt. 7-7. Mr. Holland requested a lay advocate, and one was later appointed to him. Mr. Holland also requested “Horn” as a witness who would state, “the OFC said it was prayer oil.” Dkt. 7-6. He also requested external testing to show it was prayer oil. Id.

         On January 9, 2018, the disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) held a hearing in case NCF 18-01-0029. Dkt. 7-10. Mr. Holland pleaded not guilty and stated, “It is prayer oil, it was not in my box.” Id. After considering staff reports, Mr. Holland's statement, evidence from witnesses, photographs, the SIR description, the email from Internal Affairs (“I.A.”), and the confiscation slip, the DHO found Mr. Holland guilty of offense B-202, possession of a controlled substance. Id. Due to the seriousness and the nature of the offense and the degree to which it disrupted the security of the facility, the DHO imposed the following sanctions: disciplinary segregation (time served), 30 days loss of commissary and phone privileges, 90 days earned credit time deprivation, and demotion from credit class I to credit class II. Id.

         Mr. Holland's appeals to the Facility Head and to the Appeal Review Officer were both denied. Dkt. 7-11; dkt. 7-12.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Holland alleges that his due process rights were violated in the disciplinary proceeding. He alleges that 1) the substance should have been retested at an outside lab; 2) he does not believe that the substance tested was that which was confiscated from him because it took five hours to get to I.A.; 3) the substance confiscated from him was prayer oil; and 4) the prayer oil is used in his Christian religion and the Nark II test has regularly tested substances falsely as marijuana. Dkt. 1.

         Mr. Holland first asserts that the denial of his request for outside lab testing violated his due process rights. Under these circumstances, Mr. Holland does not have the right to demand outside testing. See Manley v. Butts, 699 Fed.Appx. 574, 577 (7th Cir. 2017) (“Manley was not entitled to demand laboratory testing and publications about the reliability of the particular field test, just as the hearing officer implied by calling those demands unreasonable. Prison administrators are not obligated to create favorable evidence or produce ...

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