United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS,
VACATING SANCTIONS, AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
petition of Demetrius Miller for a writ of habeas corpus
challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No.
NCF 16-09-0154. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr.
Miller's habeas petition must be
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).
THE DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING
September 26, 2016, Correctional Officer Robbins issued a
Report of Conduct charging Mr. Miller with a violation of
Code A-111/113, attempted trafficking. Dkt. 13-1. The Report
of Conduct states:
On this date an approx. time Offender Miller 246965 at
chemical exchange ask me Ofc. Robbins ‘Aey man
where's my chicken sandwich you owe me.' Offender
Miller has said this many times in front of other offenders
at chemical exchange. Last week I warned Offender Miller not
to say this again or he would get a write up.
Id. (capitalization modified). Mr. Miller was
notified of the charge on September 27, 2016, when he was
served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of
Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report) Dkt. 13-1; dkt. 13-2.
Mr. Miller pleaded not guilty and requested offenders Young
and Atkins as witnesses, but did not request any other
evidence. Dkt. 13-2.
Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on October
4, 2016. Dkt. 13-6. The Hearing Officer noted that Mr. Miller
stated, “All I said to him was man that look good. We
joke around like that. I always talk about him giving me food
like that. It was a joke.” (capitalization modified).
Id. The Hearing Officer found Mr. Miller guilty of
violating Code A-111/113, attempted trafficking. Id.
The sanctions imposed included the deprivation of 90 days of
earned credit time and a demotion of one credit class.
Miller filed an appeal to the Facility Head and the Final
Reviewing Authority. Dkt. 13-7; dkt. 13-8; dkt 13-9. Both
appeals were denied. Dkt. 13-9; dkt. 13-10. Mr. Miller then
brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Miller asserts his conviction was not supported by sufficient
evidence. He states that the behavior set forth in the Report
of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening
Report) does not amount to attempted trafficking. Dkt. 1 at
5. In response, the Respondent argues that Mr. Miller is not
entitled to any habeas relief because there is some evidence
to support the decision of the Hearing Officer.
to the sufficiency of the evidence are governed by the
“some evidence” standard. “[A] hearing
officer's decision need only rest on ‘some
evidence' logically supporting it and demonstrating that
the result is not arbitrary.” Ellison, 820
F.3d at 274; see Eichwedel v. Chandler, 696 F.3d
660, 675 (7th Cir. 2012) (“The some evidence standard .
. . is satisfied if there is any evidence in the record that
could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary
board.”) (citation and quotation marks omitted). The
“some evidence” standard is much more lenient
than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard.
Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir.
2002). “[T]he 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.
Miller was charged with and found guilty of a violation of
Code A-111/113. Dkt. 1; Dkt. 2. The version of Code A-111 in
effect at the relevant time prohibited “[a]ttempting or
conspiring or aiding and abetting with another to commit a
Class A offense.” Indiana Department of Correction
Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I: Offenses, at 2 (June
1, 2015). Code A-113 prohibited “engaging in
trafficking (as defined in Ind. Code § 35-44.1-3-5) with
anyone who is not an offender residing in the same
facility.” Id. Under the referenced statute,
trafficking occurs when “[a] person who, without the
prior authorization of the person in charge of a penal
facility … knowingly or intentionally:” (1)
“delivers, or carries into the penal facility …
with intent to deliver, an article to an inmate
…”; (2) “carries, or receives with intent
to carry out of the penal facility … an article from
an inmate …”; or (3) “delivers, or carries
to a worksite with the intent to deliver, alcoholic beverages
to an inmate ...