United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
Adams' petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges
his conviction in a prison disciplinary proceeding identified
as IYC 16-17-0176. For the reasons explained in this Entry,
petition must be denied.
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
November 22, 2016, Investigator P. Prulhiere completed a
Report of Investigation describing Mr. Adams' involvement
in an effort to traffic synthetic marijuana at Plainfield
Correctional Facility. Dkt. 13-2. The report states that a
package was thrown over the prison's fence from a car and
that security video showed Mr. Adams taking possession of
part of the package-which contained synthetic marijuana-from
another inmate. Id. Later, on November 22,
Investigator Prulhiere wrote a Report of Conduct concluding
that the evidence uncovered in the investigation was
sufficient to charge Mr. Adams with dealing in a synthetic
drug or lookalike substance in violation of Indiana Code
§ 35-48-4-10.5(e)(1)(B). Dkt. 13-1.
disciplinary proceeding against Mr. Adams was resolved once
but set for rehearing. On February 28, 2018, in preparation
for the rehearing, Mr. Adams received a Screening Report
notifying him that he had been charged with
“Conspiracy/Attempt/Aiding in Trafficking” in
violation of Codes A-111 and A-113 of the Indiana Department
of Correction's (IDOC) Adult Disciplinary Process. Dkt.
13-3. The screening report indicates that Mr. Adams intended
to plead guilty, and it includes the following written
statement: “I pled Guilty to B 233 Giving or
hearing officer found Mr. Adams guilty of violating Code
B-233 at a rehearing later on February 28, 2018. Dkt. 13-4.
The hearing officer's report indicates that Mr. Adams
made the following statement: “I Pled Guilty To B233
Giving/Recieving Anything of Value w/o sanction.”
Id. The report indicates that the hearing officer
considered Mr. Adams' statement and Investigator
Prulhiere's reports in reaching his determination.
Id. The hearing officer assessed sanctions,
including the loss of 90 days' earned credit time and a
suspended demotion of one credit-earning class.
hearing officer's report indicates that he did not
sanction Mr. Adams to time in disciplinary restrictive status
housing (DRSH) because he already served time in DRSH while
awaiting his rehearing. Id. Shortly after his
rehearing, however, Mr. Adams was assigned to Department Wide
Administrative Restrictive Status Housing (DWARSH). Dkt.
15-1. IDOC records indicate that this assignment was based on
Mr. Adams' “overall negative adjustment.”
These documents indicate that Mr. Adams was convicted of at
least seven conduct violations in the previous two years and
that one of his disciplinary infractions resulted in serious
bodily injury to an inmate. Id.
Adams challenges his disciplinary conviction on two grounds:
that he was denied an impartial decisionmaker, and that his
conviction is not supported by sufficient evidence. These
arguments fail for separate reasons.
prisoner in a disciplinary action has the right to be heard
before an impartial decision-maker. Hill, 472 U.S.
at 454. A “sufficiently impartial” decision-maker
is necessary to shield the prisoner from the arbitrary
deprivation of his liberties. Gaither v. Anderson,
236 F.3d 817, 820 (7th Cir. 2000) (per curiam). Hearing
officers “are entitled to a presumption of honesty and
integrity” absent clear evidence to the contrary.
Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003);
see Perotti v. Marberry, 355 Fed.Appx. 39, 43 (7th
Cir. 2009) (citing Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35,
47 (1975)). Indeed, the “the constitutional standard
for impermissible bias is high, ” and hearing officers
“are not deemed biased simply because they presided
over a prisoner's previous disciplinary proceeding”
or because they are employed by the IDOC. Piggie,
342 F.3d at 666. However, the presumption is overcome-and an