United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
TAVARES J. BROWNING, Petitioner,
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
J. Browning, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas
corpus petition challenging the prison disciplinary hearing
(ISP 18-02-0210) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO)
found him guilty of Impairment of Surveillance in violation
of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) offense B-209.
(ECF 1 at 1.) As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of
30 days earned credit time. Browning argues that he is
entitled to habeas corpus relief because the charge was not
supported by sufficient evidence.
prisoners lose earned credit time in a prison disciplinary
hearing, they are entitled to certain protections under the
Due Process Clause: (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 their defense when consistent
with institutional safety and correctional goals; and (4) a
written statement by a fact finder of evidence relied on and
the reasons for the disciplinary action. Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563 (1974).
argues that the DHO did not have sufficient evidence to find
him guilty because there was no evidence at all. He argues
that a description of the curtain was not provided, he was
not shown the curtain, and the precise location of the
curtain was not identified. In the disciplinary context,
“the relevant question is whether there is any evidence
in the record that could support the conclusion reached by
the disciplinary board.” Superintendent v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455-56 (1985). “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
the Conduct Report charged Browning as follows:
While conducting the 9:15pm security walk of the West side of
D Cell House on Friday, February 16, 2018 I, Officer A.
Bauer, warned all offenders that curtains, including buckets
and plastic on bars, needed to be removed. When I returned
for the 10:15pm walk I found that Offender Browning (DOC
#932308) still had a curtain in his cell (DCH 214)[.]
(ECF 1-1 at 1.) Browning was charged and found guilty of
violating IDOC offense B-209, which prohibits “[u]sing
curtains, coverings or any other matter or object in an
unauthorized manner that obstructs or otherwise impairs the
line of vision into an offender's cell or room or which
obstructs or otherwise impairs any viewing panel or
surveillance equipment, either audio or visual within the
facility, including blocking staff's view down a
range..” Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I:
had sufficient evidence to find Browning guilty of impairing
surveillance because the Conduct Report contained sufficient
information to find him guilty. In it, Officer Bauer included
a detailed explanation of providing Browning with a warning
that all curtains, including buckets and plastic on bars,
needed to be removed. Officer Bauer then indicated that, an
hour later, Browning still had a curtain in his cell,
identified as Cell DCH 214. It was not arbitrary for the DHO
to conclude that Browning had a curtain in his cell that
impaired surveillance in violation of IDOC offense B-209 in
light of this report. McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786
(the court is not “required to conduct an examination
of the entire record, independently assess witness
credibility, or weigh the evidence.”). Therefore, the
DHO's finding that Browning was guilty is supported by
some evidence and is not a basis for granting habeas relief.
Browning wants to appeal this decision, he does not need a
certificate of appealability because he is challenging a
prison disciplinary proceeding. See Evans v. Circuit
Court, 569 F.3d 665, 666 (7th Cir. 2009). However, he
may not proceed in forma pauperis on appeal because pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) an appeal in this case could
not be taken in good faith.
these reasons, the habeas corpus petition (ECF 1) is DENIED.
The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment and close this case.
Tavares S. Browning is ...