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Mcgee v. Warden

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

May 2, 2019

LANCE MCGEE, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

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

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE UNITED STATES

         The petition of Lance McGee for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary hearing identified as IYC 18-06-0036. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. McGee's habeas petition must be 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) 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).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On June 4, 2018, Sergeant J. Geiger issued a Report of Conduct (Conduct Report) charging Mr. McGee with a violation of Code 102A, Battery. Dkt. 8-1. The Conduct Report stated:

On 6/4/2018 I Sgt. J. Geiger while reviewing the camera of South dorm H-Unit observed Offender Boyer, Angeloe #252746 (G4-9U) in the H-unit bed area at the H1-12/H1-13 at 4:34pm and is seen arguing with an offender later identified as Offender McGee #249917 (H1-13U). As the two go between the bunks Offender Boyer appears to bend down and attempt to get into one of the property boxes and Offender McGee attempts to stop him and the two are then seen in an altercation, rolling around on the lower bunk of H1-12 at 4:39pm. After the first altercation at Offender Boyer starts walking to the latrine but stops and retrieves a broom from beneath the middle camera at 4:41pm and as Offender McGee enters the latrine, Offender Boyer starts to run after Offender McGee with the broom. Offender McGee later gains control of the broom and Offender Boyer starts to run away, with Offender McGee running after him, with the broom, this can be seen on the middle camera at 4:41:32pm. Offender Boyer runs into the latrine where he grabs a scrub brush handle. Offender McGee puts the broom down and begins to exit the latrine back into the bed area. Offender Boyer puts down the scrub brush handle. At 4:43pm Offender Boyer picks up the scrub brush handle and reenters the bed area, goes back to H1-12 area. Both offender walk back toward the latrine together. At 4:44:14pm Offender McGee grabs the handle in an attempt to pull it from Offender Boyers' hands. At 4:44:19pm the scrub brush handle is broken. Offender McGee picks up both pieces and again goes after Offender Boyer who has now picked up a mop and the two go off camera. Offender Boyer then runs from the latrine back into the bed area and Offender McGee now has the mop handle in his hands. This back and forth with the mops and broom handles continues until 4:54pm when a staff member is observed entering the latrine. During this exchange neither offender is observed actually making contact with the other. Offender Boyer is observed exiting the H unit dayroom at 4:54:27pm.

Id. A series of photographs of the items held by Mr. McGee and Offender Boyer during the altercation were included with the Conduct Report. Dkt. 8-2.

         On June 11, 2018, Mr. McGee was notified of the charge when he received the Conduct Report and the Screening Report. Dkt. 8-1; dkt. 8-3. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and requested Offender Boyer as a witness. Dkt. 8-3. Offender Boyer provided a statement that they “were just horseplaying” during the incident. Dkt. 8-6.

         A hearing was held on June 15, 2018. Dkt. 8-5. Mr. McGee pleaded not guilty to the charge of violating Code 102A, Battery. Id. At the hearing, he stated that “they were just horseplaying.” Id. After considering the staff reports, the witness statement, Mr. McGee's statement, and the photos, the hearing officer found Mr. McGee guilty of attempted battery, modifying the charge to one of violating 111A/102A. Id. The sanctions imposed included a loss of 180 days earned credit time and a one-level demotion in credit class. Id.

         Mr. McGee filed an appeal, which was denied on June 29, 2018. Dkt. 8-7. He then appealed to the Final Reviewing Authority, who denied his appeal on July 9, 2018. Dkt. 8-8. After the denial of his final appeal, Mr. McGee brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. McGee presents two challenges to his disciplinary proceeding: 1) there was insufficient evidence to support the hearing officer's determination of guilt because no one was injured and Mr. McGee and Offender Boyer admitted they were horseplaying; and 2) the conduct report was the result of prison officials failing to protect Mr. McGee in violation of his rights and Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy. Dkt. 2 at 2-3. Mr. McGee is not entitled to habeas relief on either ground.

         1. Sufficiency ...


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