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Berry v. Knight

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

July 26, 2019

EARLIE B.A. BERRY, JR., Petitioner,
v.
WENDY KNIGHT, Respondent.

          Patricia Caress McMath, INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

          Andrea Elizabeth Rahman, OFFICE OF THE INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

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

          JAMES R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The petition of Earlie B.A. Berry, Jr. for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as CIC 17-12-0143. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Berry'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 12, 2017, Officer Riley Groover wrote a conduct report charging Mr. Berry with committing offense B-202, Possession or Use of a Controlled Substance. The conduct report states:

On December 12, 2017 at approximately 1:01 P.M. Offender Berry, Earlie #9321511B-1D was having medical issues. I Officer Riley Groover and Officer Alec Baullosa went to cell 1-1D. Offender Berry, Earlie #9321511B-1D was throwing up and rolling around on the floor. Officer Alec Baullosa called a signal 3000. I Officer Riley Groover went into the cell [to] assist Offender Berry Upon entering cell 1-1D, I (Officer Riley Groover) noticed a 2” brown rolled controlled substance laying on the floor of his cell by the head of the bed. I also found 2-AAA batteries with 2 pieces of a razor blade laying on his bed. End of Report.

Dkt. 14-1. Officer Riley Groover also completed a Notice of Confiscated Property form, describing the confiscated property as a “2” brown rolled controlled substance, 2-AAA batteries, and 2 pieces of a razor blade.” Dkt. 14-2. Officer Groover took possession of the rolled controlled substance and placed the other evidence in locker 287. Dkt. 14-1. Photographs of the razor blade pieces and the batteries were taken, but no photo of the rolled controlled substance was taken. Dkt. 14-3. Officer Baullosa also provided a supplemental conduct report. Dkt. 14-4.

         Investigator A. Mills provided a “Suspicious Controlled Substance Confirmation” (SCSC Memo) which stated:

Without a chemical test available, the facility is going to rely on the circumstances surrounding the items found and identified as synthetic marijuana. The ADP includes paraphernalia and lookalike substances. Therefore, items found that appear to be used for smoking/consuming controlled substances, including but not limited to; any object with suspicious residue (pipes, mirrors, etc.), leftover burnt ends from a rolled up material, rolling papers, papers soaked in coffee (other liquids), suspicious torn pieces of paper, plant like material, anything packaged for distribution, etc. will constitute a violation of the ADP B202 Possession or Use of a controlled substance.

Dkt. 14-8.

         Mr. Berry was notified of the charge on December 19, 2017, when he was served with the Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. He was notified of his rights, pleaded not guilty, and requested the appointment of lay advocate, Daniel Oliver. Dkt. 14-5. Mr. Berry did not request to call any witnesses. Id. He did request ...


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