United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
FRANKLIN J. COX, Petitioner,
OPINION AND ORDER
J. Cox, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (WCC 17-07-483)
where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty
of asserting and/or filing a false lien or judgment in
violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy
A-122 on August 22, 2017. ECF 2 at 1. As a result, he was
sanctioned with the loss of 120 days earned credit time and
the imposition of a suspended sanction-the loss of 45 days
earned credit time- for a total loss of 165 days earned
credit time. ECF 2 at 1, 10-5 at 1-2. The Warden has filed
the administrative record and Cox has filed a traverse. Thus,
this case is fully briefed.
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).
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
case, Cox was charged with and found guilty of violating
offense A-122. ECF 10-5 at 1-2. Specifically, IDOC offense
A-122 prohibits inmates from “[a]sserting and/or filing
a lien or judgment against any person when the basis for said
lien or judgment is false or otherwise untrue.” Indiana
Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process,
Appendix I. See
Conduct Report charged Cox as follows:
At approximately 12:03 pm on July 24, 2017, I, Patrick
Krueger, was notified by Central Office staff that Offender
Franklin Cox 114766 has filed a frivolous lawsuit claiming he
is owed credit time for classes which are not DOC-approved
time cut programs.
By demanding credit time via a lawsuit for classes which are
not and have never been DOC-approved time cut programs
Offender Cox has violated ADP code A122: Asserting and/or
filing a false lien or judgment.
ECF 10-1 at 1.
August 22, 2017, disciplinary hearing, Cox stated: “I
never filed a lawsuit. I don't see how its frivolous when
the judge gave me time to respond. The court would've
shut it down if it was frivolous.” ECF 10-5 at 1-2. The
hearing officer then determined that Cox violated offense
A-122, and sanctioned him with the loss of 165 days earned
credit time-120 days for the A-122 offense and 45-days from a
previously suspended sanction. Id.
petition, Cox argues there was insufficient evidence for the
DHO to find him guilty. ECF 2 at 1. Here, Cox claims he
“never filed a lawsuit” but instead he simply
filed a “Verified Petition for Additional Credit
Time” in St. Joseph Superior Court that pertained to
his criminal felony case. Id. He explains he filed
the verified petition seeking credit time only for those
classes or programs he took which were not part of the
“regular courses” offered by the Indiana
Department of Correction. Id.
case, the DHO found there was sufficient evidence to find Cox
guilty of violating offense A-122. Here, the DHO considered
the conduct report in which Patrick Krueger, a classification
supervisor, documented the fact he had been notified by the
prison's central office staff that Cox had filed a
frivolous lawsuit claiming he was owed credit time for
classes which were not IDOC-approved time cut programs. ECF
10-1 at 1. Krueger explained that, because Cox had demanded
credit time ...