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Young v. Butts

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

February 4, 2019

ISRAEL J. YOUNG, Petitioner,
BUTTS, Respondent.



          The petition of Israel Young for a writ of habeas corpus challenges Indiana prison disciplinary proceeding number NCF 18-03-0036. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Young's habeas petition is 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) 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 March 5, 2018, Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Officer M. Wilkinson wrote a conduct report charging Mr. Young with disorderly conduct, B236. The conduct report provides:

On the above date and time I, Officer Wilkinson was working chow when I s[aw] Offender Young #210924 trying to get a second sack. Offender Young #210924 had come through with insulin and early feed. I told Offender Young to give me the sack then he began cussing me. Sgt. Anderson and Sgt. Gard came over and Offender Young was told 4 more times to give the sack up when Offender got angry and threw the sack at my feet. He was advised.

Dkt. 8-1.

         Mr. Young was notified of the charge on March 8, 2018, when he received the Screening Report. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. He requested to have a lay advocate, and one was appointed. Dkt. 8-7. He requested offender Philpot and Sgt. Gard as witnesses and requested as evidence the camera footage from the cafeteria from 17:05 to 17:35. Dkt. 8-2. Sgt. Anderson provided a witness statement that he saw Offender Young “become extremely disorderly and throw his sack lunch at Ofc. Wilkinson's feet.” Dkt. 8-3. Sgt. Gard provided the following statement: “[t]he Aramark staff had marked off that he had received his diet sack already at which time Ofc. Wilkinson advised him to give up the sack he received after and he threw it on the floor [at] Wilkinson's feet. He was advised then to leave the chow hall.” Dkt. 8-5. Offender Philpot provided the following witness statement: “we was going to get our sack and the C.O. said that he got another sack I was standing there the whole time he never got no other sack. I was there the whole time we were just there chatting until the line died down.” Dkt. 8-4. The video evidence review form states that the video clearly shows Offender Young “throw his sack down by the Officer's feet.” Dkt. 8-8.

         After a postponement, a hearing was held on March 20, 2018. At the hearing. Mr. Young stated he was ready to begin and pleaded guilty. Dkt. 8-9. Based on the staff reports, video evidence, the offender's statement, and witness statements, the hearing officer found Mr. Young guilty of disorderly conduct. The sanctions imposed included 90 days' earned-credit-time deprivation and demotion in credit class Id.

         On March 22, 2018, Mr. Young appealed to the Warden. His appeal was denied. Dkt. 8-11. The respondent argues that Mr. Young failed to exhaust his administrative remedies when he failed to file an appeal with the Final Reviewing Authority. Mr. Young did not file a reply.


         As a preliminary matter, the respondent argues that Mr. Young failed to exhaust his available administrative appeals with regard to the claims raised in the petition. Dkt. 8. The record, however, is insufficient to determine whether Mr. Young failed to exhaust because in his petition, filed under penalty of perjury, he states that he filed a second level appeal. In this case it appears to be in the interests of both justice and judicial efficiency that the merits of Mr. Young's habeas claims be resolved. In Lambrix v. Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 524 (1997), “the Supreme Court noted that its cases have ‘suggest[ed] that the procedural-bar issue should ordinarily be considered first.' Nevertheless, added the Court, it did ‘not mean to suggest that the procedural-bar issue must invariably be resolved first; only that it ordinarily should be.'” Brown v. Watters, 599 F.3d 602, 609-10 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting Lambrix, 520 U.S. at 525).

         In this case, considering Mr. Young's claims on the merits rather than first resolving the exhaustion issue will promote judicial economy. The review permitted of the challenged proceeding is narrow and is based on an expanded record of the charge, notice, evidence, hearing, and decision. It appears to be an inefficient use of the Court's resources and the parties' time to become invested in untangling the parties' dispute about ...

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