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Decker v. Krueger

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

April 1, 2019

ROBERT K. DECKER, Petitioner,
v.
J. E. KRUEGER, Respondent.

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

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Senior Judge

         On June 7, 2018, petitioner Robert K. Decker filed his petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging a disciplinary proceeding that commenced with Incident Report No. 3035622. The respondent filed a return to order to show cause, dkt. 7, and then Mr. Decker moved to amend his petition. Dkt. 8; dkt. 11. The respondent filed an amended return, dkt. 12, and Mr. Decker replied, dkt. 13.

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Decker's amended habeas petition must be denied.

         A. Legal Standards

         “Federal inmates must be afforded due process before any of their good time credits-in which they have a liberty interest-can be revoked.” Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011). “In the context of a prison disciplinary hearing, due process requires that the prisoner receive (1) written notice of the claimed violation at least 24 hours before hearing; (2) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence (when consistent with institutional safety) to an impartial decision-maker; and (3) a written statement by the fact-finder of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action.” Id.; see also Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570-71 (1974). In addition, “some evidence” must support the guilty finding. Ellison v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th Cir. 2016).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding Regarding Incident Report 3035622

         At approximately 12:45 p.m. on September 20, 2017, an officer was attempting to escort Mr. Decker to his assigned cell at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. Mr. Decker tried to break free from the officer and was combative, attempted to kick his legs toward the officer, and resisted the application of restraints. At approximately 1:25 p.m., Incident Report No. 3035622 was prepared by Senior Officer B. Monnett, charging Mr. Decker with violations of Code 224-A, assaulting any person (attempt), and Code 307, refusing to obey an order. The Incident Report stated:

On September 20, 2017, at 12:45 pm, I attempted to escort inmate Decker, Robert, Reg. No. 51719-074 out of Holding Cell MR-5 in the Special Housing, back to his assigned cell in Range A-Upper, cell #214. Once I entered the cell and grabbed inmate Decker by the arm, he attempted to break free from me by pulling away from me. I along with responding staff placed inmate Decker on the floor to regain control. I gave inmate Decker multiple orders to stop his actions with negative result. Inmate Decker continued to resist by not allowing us to place the leg restraints on him and kicking his legs toward the staff involved in the Use of Force. Once restrained, inmate Decker refused to walk on his own and was carried down the steps to Range A-Lower, cell #116, where he was placed in Hard 4-Point Restraints by the SHU Lieutenant.

Dkt. 12-4 at 1.

         The Incident Report was delivered to Mr. Decker and he was verbally advised of his rights on September 20, 2017, at approximately 7:45 p.m. Id. The Unit Disciplinary Committee (“UDC”) referred the charge to the Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”) due to the severity of the charge. Id.

         The Incident Report process was suspended because the matter was referred for a criminal investigation. The Incident Report was released for administrative processing on September 21, 2017. Dkt. 12-4 at 3.

         On September 27, 2017, Mr. Decker signed the Inmate Rights at Discipline Hearing form, the Notice of Discipline Hearing Before the DHO, and a Waiver of Appearance for both UDC and DHO hearings. Dkt. 12-5 at 4-6.

         On September 28, 2017, DHO Bradley held a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing, he found Mr. Decker guilty of violating Code 224-A, assaulting any person (attempt). Mr. Decker was advised of his rights, was offered a staff representative, and was also advised he could request witnesses. He, however, declined a staff representative, declined to request witnesses, and declined to appear at the UDC and DHO hearings. Dkt. 12-5 at 2, 6.

         The DHO's finding was based on the following evidence: the Incident Report, a staff memorandum from Officer Rogers, and Mr. Decker's lack of refutation of the charges. Dkt. 12-5 at 2. The DHO issued the report on October 26, 2017, and it was delivered to Mr. Decker on November 9, 2017. Dkt. 12-5 at 3. The following sanctions were imposed: disallowance of 27 ...


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