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Oram v. Zatecky

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

May 17, 2019

JESSE ORAM, Petitioner,
v.
DUSHAN ZATECKY, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, GRANTING MOTIONS REQUESTING STATUS OF CASE, AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE

         The petition of Jesse Oram for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISR 18-01-0128. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Oram'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 December 6, 2017, Investigator Houchins wrote a Conduct Report charging Mr. Oram with A-114, sexual act with a visitor. Dkt. 8-1. The Conduct Report states:

On 12/6/2017 at approximately 9:30 am, Offender Oram, Jesse DOC 129165 placed his penis on the top of the hand of a volunteer while they were “praying.” This incident took place at the cell of offender Oram. Offender Oram admitted to committing this assault during an interview with myself, C. Houchins, Lead Investigator. Oram reported he committed this act due to being sexually aroused. Offender Oram admitted to removing his own penis (exposed skin) from his clothing and touching the top of this volunteer's hand (exposed skin).

Dkt. 8-1.[1]

         Mr. Oram was notified of the charge on February 14, 2018, when he received the Screening Report. Dkt. 8-2. He pleaded not guilty to the charge and requested a lay advocate. Id. He did not request any witnesses but requested the video from the 2F range from 9:30 am on December 6, 2017. Id. His request for video was denied because no video was available. Id.

         The prison disciplinary hearing was held on February 22, 2018. Dkt. 8-4. According to the notes from the hearing, Mr. Oram stated, “I didn't do it.” Id. Based on the staff reports, the hearing officer found Mr. Oram guilty of A-114, sexual act with a visitor. Id. The sanctions imposed included 365 days of earned credit time deprivation and a credit class demotion. Id.

         Mr. Oram appealed to the Facility Head and the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Final Reviewing Authority, both of which were denied. Dkt. 8-8; dkt. 8-9. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Oram's habeas petition challenges his prison disciplinary conviction on four grounds: (1) he was denied a lay advocate; (2) Investigator Houchins had a conflict of interest; (3) the denial of video evidence; and (4) sufficiency of the evidence. See dkt. 1 at 3-6. The respondent argues that Mr. Oram failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to the sufficiency of the evidence. Dkt. 8 at 7. The respondent further argues that there was no due process violation, and the hearing officer's finding of guilt was supported by “some evidence.” Dkt. 8. Mr. Oram ...


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