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Wagoner v. Knight

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

February 5, 2019

BRADLEY WAGONER, Petitioner,
v.
WENDY KNIGHT Warden, Correctional Industrial Facility, Respondent.

          ENTRY GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE United States District Court

         The petition of Bradley Wagoner for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as CIC 17-11-0261. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Wagoner's habeas petition must be granted.

         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); see also Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563-67 (1974); Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011) (same for federal inmates).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On November 16, 2017, Investigator S. Runyan wrote a Report of Conduct that charged Mr. Wagoner with Class B offense 215, Unauthorized Possession of Property. Dkt. 7-1. The Conduct Report states:

On 11/16/2017 at 6:00am I S. Runyan was doing an inventorying of offender Wagoner, Bradley 966321 31L-3AS property. During that inventory I discovered offender Wagoner had more than the allowable amount of commissary. All commissary was taken to DHB. This makes offender Wagoner in code violation of a code 215 Unauthorized Possession of Property.

Id.

         On November 20, 2017, Mr. Wagoner was notified of the disciplinary charge when he was served with the Conduct Report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 7-4. Mr. Wagoner was notified of his rights, pleaded not guilty, and requested a lay advocate. Id. Mr. Wagoner requested two offender witnesses, one of whom was denied because there was not enough information to identify the offender. Id. As physical evidence Mr. Wagoner wanted commissary receipts that would show all his food purchases. Id.

         The hearing officer (“DHO”) conducted the disciplinary hearing in CIC 17-11-0261 on December 6, 2017. Dkt. 7-7. Mr. Wagoner's comment was, “I make candy for people. I probably had a few extra items, but they took my cell mate's commissary with mine.” Id. The DHO found Mr. Wagoner guilty of Class B offense 215, Unauthorized Possession of Property, based on staff reports, Mr. Wagoner's statement, and physical evidence consisting of a cart full of commissary. Id. The sanctions were a written reprimand, loss of telephone and commissary privileges, an earned credit time deprivation of 30 days, and demotion from credit Class 1 to credit Class 2. Id. These sanctions were imposed because of Mr. Wagoner's attitude and demeanor during the hearing and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on his future behavior. Id.

         Mr. Wagoner's appeals to the Facility Head and to the Appeal Review Officer were denied. Dkt. Nos. 7-9, 7-10, 7-11, 7-12, 7-13.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Wagoner alleges that his due process rights were violated in the disciplinary proceeding. The Court construes his claims as follows: 1) the conduct report was written up more than 24 hours after the incident and the screening was done past the 7-day deadline set per policy; 2) the DHO was not impartial; 3) his cell-mate was not charged with the same offense which violated Mr. Wagoner's equal protection rights; and 4) there was insufficient evidence. Dkt. 1 at 1-2.

         The first claim that prison authorities failed to follow Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) policies relating to the timing of the conduct report and screening is summarily dismissed as insufficient because it does not raise federal claims. See Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 n. 2 (1991) (“state-law violations provide no basis for federal habeas relief.”); Keller v. Donahue,271 Fed.Appx. 531, 532 (7th Cir. Mar. 27, 2008) (in a habeas action, an inmate ...


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