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Vaughn v. Brown

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

May 31, 2019

DUSTY VAUGHN, Petitioner,
v.
RICHARD BROWN, Respondent.

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

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         The petition of Dusty Vaughn for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as WVE 18-02-0053. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Vaughn'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 February 9, 2018, Sgt. Norton wrote a Conduct Report that charged Mr. Vaughn with Class A offense 102, Assault With Bodily Fluid. The Report of Conduct stated:

On 02/09/18 @ approximately 0318 hours, I Sergeant Norton #336, while attempting to get offender Vaughn, Dusty #171917 to comply with orders to be placed in mechanical restraints in DRHU strip cell, was assaulted with bodily fluid. Vaughn refused to comply with orders and spit at me, hitting me on the left side of my face. Vaughn was identified by State wristband and DRHU Seg roster.

Dkt. 9-1.

         After an initial hearing was conducted, on appeal the Indiana Department of Correction decided to rehear the case. Dkt. 9-2.

         Mr. Vaughn was rescreened on June 22, 2018, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 9-3. The Screening Report noted that Mr. Vaughn did not wish to call any witnesses, but as physical evidence he asked for video from 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. on February 9, 2018. Id. Mr. Vaughn pleaded not guilty, did not request a lay advocate, and did not waive 24-hour notice of the hearing. Id.

         The hearing officer conducted a second disciplinary hearing on June 29, 2018. Dkt. 9-4. At the rehearing, Mr Vaughn stated, “I never spit on staff. I never refused orders to cuff up. I am disputing the conduct report and Sgt. Norton was acting on the video.” Id.

         The hearing officer determined that Mr. Vaughn violated Class A offense 102, battery. Id. The evidence on which the hearing officer relied consisted of staff reports, the statement of the offender, and video evidence. Id. The hearing officer cited this evidence as the reason for the decision. Id. Because of the seriousness of the offense and the degree to which the violation disrupted/endangered the security of the facility, the sanctions imposed were a written reprimand, 360 days in disciplinary restrictive housing, and an earned credit time deprivation of 360 days. Id.

         On appeal, the 360-day deprivation of earned credit time was reduced to 180 days. Dkt. 9-5. Mr. Vaughn filed this habeas action on October 4, 2018, and it is ripe for resolution.

         C. ...


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