United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
DEREK D. FINGERS, Petitioner,
OPINION AND ORDER
D. Fingers, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas
corpus petition challenging the disciplinary decision (MCF
18-11-283) at the Miami Correctional Facility in which a
disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) found him guilty of
improperly placing body fluid or fecal waste in violation of
Indiana Department of Correction Offense 123. Following a
disciplinary hearing, Fingers was sanctioned with a loss of
one hundred eighty days earning credit time.
argues that he is entitled to habeas relief because he was
denied the right to request his medical records as evidence
when correctional staff refused to screen him and was not
allowed to present them at the disciplinary hearing. He
states that the medical records were necessary to demonstrate
that his misconduct was the result of his mental condition.
He further states that the disciplinary officers did not
support the determination that his misconduct was not the
result of his mental illness with evidence. For his
arguments, Fingers references the departmental policy on
disciplinary procedures, which requires the disciplinary
reviewing officer to:
Review the Mental Health Code. If this Code indicates that
the offender has a mental illness, the Disciplinary Review
Officer shall contact the Mental Health Professional of the
facility. If, after consultation with the Mental Health
Department, the Disciplinary Review Officer determines that
the incident was a result of the offender's mental
illness, the offender shall receive a written reprimand
documenting the behavior. If the incident is determined to
not be a result of the offender's mental illness, the
case shall proceed normally.
Department of Correction, Disciplinary Code for Adult
Offenders, Policy No. 02-04-101, available at
CodeforAdultOffenders6-1-2015.pdf. Before screening, a mental
health counselor advised the screening officer that the
incident was not the result of mental illness, and a
disciplinary hearing was scheduled. ECF 17-3; ECF 17-5.
satisfy due process, there must also be “some
evidence” to support the hearing officer's
decision. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill,
472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985). “Procedural due process also
requires prison disciplinary officials to disclose material
exculpatory evidence to the charged offenders.”
Scruggs v. Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 939-40 (7th Cir.
2007). “However, prison disciplinary officials need not
permit the presentation of irrelevant or repetitive evidence
in order to afford prisoners due process in disciplinary
proceedings.” Id. Moreover, the right to
challenge a prehearing determination on the effects of mental
illness is not listed among the requirements for procedural
due process for prison disciplinary proceedings enumerated in
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974), and the
Supreme Court of the United States has indicated that this
list of requirements is exhaustive. White v. Indiana
Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 768 (7th Cir. 2001) (citing
Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 324 (1976)).
was found guilty of Offense 123, which is defined by
departmental policy as “placing body fluid or fecal
waste in a location unintended for the hygienic disposal of
body fluid or fecal waste and/or placing body fluid or fecal
waste in a location with the intent that another person will
touch or otherwise come in contact with the body fluid or
fecal waste.” Indiana Department of Correction, Adult
%20I%206-4-2018.pdf. The administrative record included the
disciplinary report, which states that a correctional officer
observed Fingers throwing body fluid and fecal waste at his
cell door and window. ECF 17-1. It also included photographs
to corroborate the disciplinary report. ECF 17-2.
Fingers' medical records were not relevant to the
determination at the hearing about whether he was guilty but
instead were relevant to a pre-hearing determination of
whether his conduct was the result of mental health illness.
The administrative record indicates that correctional staff
followed departmental policy with respect to this
determination and relied on the findings of medical staff.
ECF 17-5. Even if they did not, the failure to follow
departmental policy does not rise to the level of a
constitutional violation. See Estelle v. McGuire,
502 U.S. 62, 68 (1991) (“state-law violations provide
no basis for federal habeas relief”); Keller v.
Donahue, 271 Fed.Appx. 531, 532 (7th Cir. 2008)
(inmate's claim that prison failed to follow internal
policies had “no bearing on his right to due
process”). Moreover, because the medical records were
not relevant to the charged offense, Fingers was not entitled
to present them at the disciplinary hearing. Finally, the
administrative record contained ample evidence of
Finger's guilt. Therefore, Finger's claims that he
was not allowed to present his medical records as evidence
and that the disciplinary officers did not support the
determination that his misconduct was not the result of his
mental illness with evidence are not a basis for habeas
argues that he is entitled to habeas relief because the
conditions of his confinement at the time he committed the
offense violated his Eighth Amendment rights. Even if the
Fingers' constitutional rights were violated at the time
of the offense, he would not be entitled to violate the
disciplinary code with impunity. See e.g., United States
v. Crews, 445 U.S. 463, 474 (1980) (unlawful arrest does
not immunize criminal defendant from prosecution); Brooks
v. City of Aurora, Ill., 653 F.3d 478, 484 (7th Cir.
2011) (resisting even an unlawful arrest attempt can
constitute probable cause for subsequent arrest). Nor does
this allegation undermine the hearing officer's finding
that Fingers committed the offense. Therefore, the argument
that Fingers committed the offense due to poor housing
conditions is a not a basis for habeas relief.
also filed a motion to reconsider the order denying the
motion for the production of documents. In this motion,
Fingers asks for his mental health records and thirty-four
volumes of the evidence filed in Indiana Protection and
Advocacy Services Commission v. the Commissioner of the
Indiana Department of Correction, 1:08-cv-1317 (S.D.
Ind. filed Oct. 1, 2008), a class action case regarding the
department's treatment of inmates with mental illness.
These documents are not relevant to the claims in the habeas
petition nor would they assist the court in resolving them.
Therefore, this motion is denied.
Fingers has not asserted a valid claim for habeas relief, the
habeas petition is denied. If Fingers wants to appeal this
decision, he does not need a certificate of appealability
because he is challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding.
See Evans v. Circuit Court, 569 F.3d 665, 666 (7th
Cir. 2009). However, he may not proceed in forma pauperis on
appeal because the court finds pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3) that an appeal in this case could not be taken in
these reasons, the court:
(1) DENIES the habeas corpus petition ...