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Jensen v. Knight

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

August 12, 2019

BRADFORD D. JENSEN, Petitioner,
v.
WENDY KNIGHT, Respondent.

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

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         Indiana prison inmate Bradford D. Jensen petitions for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a prison disciplinary sanction imposed on rehearing in disciplinary case number CIC 17-05-0117. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Jensen'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 May 8, 2017, Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Investigator J. Poer wrote a Report of Conduct charging Mr. Jensen with attempting to commit a violation of a federal, state, or local law, a violation of the IDOC's Adult Disciplinary Code offenses A-111 and A-100. The Report of Conduct states:

On 5/8/17 I, Inv. J. Poer, was reviewing a JPay message written by offender Jensen, Bradford 893924 17A-4C. The JPay message was sent by offender Jensen on 4/27/17 at 9:32 AM. In the message Jensen tells the customer, “first things first is a burner and few Mexicans that don't carry and ima get rich. Jensen also tells the customer to make a “list of the ppl who have did you wrong cuz ima get even with a few ppl upon my release so if you run across a nice burner grab it and put it up in the attic for me…” In my experience as a Correctional Police Officer, I am confident that Jensen is asking the customer to locate a firearm that will be untraceable i.e. not registered to him or any of his associates. Jensen is also requesting that the customer select several people or “targets” for him to rob. Jensen wants the targets to be ones that are not known to carry guns to make them easier targets. Jensen states he is planning to “get even” with people once he gets out and he plans to “get rich.” Based upon the context of this email, I am confident that offender Jensen is asking the customer to locate a gun and hold it for him until his release. Then upon his release, Jensen plans to use that gun to rob people for the purposes of “getting rich” and “getting even”. By making this request, offender Jensen is in violation of A111/1100 Conspiring or Attempting to commit any Violation of Law (Robbery IC 35-42-5-1).

Dkt. 9-1. Attached to the Report of Conduct was a printout of the email, which states:

my lil ninja peakin round corners and what not. i hear that you stayin safe out there makes me feel good. I have my hours in on my job now so i should be getting my time cut soon. i start carreer devl. class tomorrow and thats a 3 month time cut. i start substance abuse may 12th and thats another 6 months so i am working on gettin out there within like 2 years as of today so mos def on the downslide. first things first is a burner and a few mexicans that dont carry and ima get rich. so keep ya ear to thwe pavement and a list of the ppl who have did you wrong cuz ima get even with a few ppl upon my release. so if you run across a nice burner grab it and put it up in the attic for me kid cuz im gonna need a tool to get my riches and a couple of targets too ... chu got me bay?????? chea i know you do! you're all i need, so keep it tight aight! B

Dkt. 9-2 [sic].

         A disciplinary hearing was held on May 10, 2017. The hearing officer found Mr. Jensen guilty of attempting to commit robbery, a violation of Indiana law. Sanctions were imposed that included the loss of ninety-two days of earned credit time and a demotion in credit earning class. Mr. Jensen unsuccessfully appealed to the Warden and Final Reviewing Authority.

         Mr. Jensen then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this Court. Jensen v. Knight, No. 1:18-cv-00065-TWP-TAB (S.D. Ind. Jan. 8, 2018). On August 16, 2018, this Court granted Mr. Jensen's petition, finding insufficient evidence to support the hearing officer's conclusion that Mr. Jensen intended to commit the crime of robbery. Id. The respondent was directed to vacate the disciplinary conviction and restore Mr. Jensen's lost earned credits. Id.

         The IDOC elected to conduct a rehearing on the Report of Conduct. On August 22, 2018, Mr. Jensen was notified of the rehearing and provided a Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 9-3. Mr. Jensen refused to plead, refused to say whether he desired a lay advocate, and refused to answer questions about requested witnesses and evidence. Id.

         A rehearing was held on August 28, 2018. Mr. Jensen stated that he never said he was going to rob anybody, and that the term “burner” meant a cell phone. Dkt. 9-4. He also read this Court's order granting him habeas corpus relief in the earlier action. The hearing officer considered Mr. Jensen's statement, the staff reports, and the email. Id. He found that Mr. Jensen's statement about what “burner” meant was not true, and it did mean a “firearm.” Id. The hearing officer also found that the evidence proved the Indiana crime of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious or violent felon. Id. He modified the state law ...


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