Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cox v. Warden

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

January 28, 2019

FRANKLIN J. COX, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO JUDGE

         Franklin 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.

         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 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).

         In this 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 http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/02-04-101 APPENDIXI-OFFENSES6-1-2015(1).pdf.

         The 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.

         At the 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.

         In his 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.

         In this 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.