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Davis v. Knight

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

August 14, 2019

DONELL DAVIS, Petitioner,
WENDY KNIGHT, Respondent.



         Indiana prison inmate Donell Davis petitions for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a prison disciplinary sanction imposed in disciplinary case number CIC 18-08-0290. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Davis'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 August 21, 2018, Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Correctional Officer B. Scott wrote a Report of Conduct charging Mr. Davis with attempted battery, a violation of the IDOC's Adult Disciplinary Code offenses A-111 (attempt) and A-102 (battery). The Report of Conduct states:

On 8/21/2018 at approximately 7:54 AM I OFC. Scott was working 2/4 side of A unit. OFC. Keiffer and I went to cell 24-2A to verify who lives on bottom bunk 24B-2A. I asked offender Davis, Donnell 201463 what is your last name[.] He replied “Johnson.” I replied no it's not[.] Your last name is Davis. He said multiple times his name isn't Davis. So I asked him whats your DOC, he gave me a false DOC number. OFC. Keiffer said “Davis you have DHB lets go.” He replied “I'm not fucking Davis.” I asked offender for his ID he said he didn't have it. At 7:56 AM OFC. Keiffer called count to see who lived on 24B-2A and it was Offender Davis. I OFC. Scott looked in the master roster and the work quarter charge and count [illegible] OFF. Davis lived 24B-2A. OFC. Keiffer and I went back to Davis's cell and told [him] to get up or cuff up. He said “I am not Davis I'm not getting up” I told him to get up and cuff up he refused. I sprayed him with OC for 1 second across the eyes, on target[.] I told him to cuff up, He put his hands behind his back and took 2 steps back and tried to turn around and elbow OFC. Keiffer. At that point I went hands on and took him to the ground. SGT. Scates called signal 10 at 7:58 am Then OFC. Keiffer, SGT. Scates and I cuffed him and first responder took him to [illegible] cell.

Dkt. 11-1.

         Mr. Davis was notified of the charge on August 27, 2018, when he received the Screening Report. Dkt. 11-2. He pled not guilty to the charge, did not request a lay advocate, and did not ask for evidence. Id. Mr. Davis asked for a witness, Offender L. Scott, to testify and answer the question “Did I touch anyone?” Id.

         A hearing was held on August 31, 2018. Dkt. 11-3. Mr. Davis's statement at the hearing was “I lied about my name. It didn't [sic] like that. There is lots of flaws in the conduct report.” Id. IDOC Sergeant A. Scates provided a witness statement that Mr. Davis “made an aggressive move and attempted to strike Officer Keiffer with his elbow.” Dkt. 11-6. Officer Keiffer also provided a written statement that during his and Officer Scott's interaction with Mr. Davis, as Mr. Davis walked backwards to them to be placed in handcuffs, “[h]e quickly made a move to turn and elbow me.” Dkt. 11-5. Video surveillance was available that showed the incident. Dkt. 15.

         The disciplinary hearing officer (DHO) considered Mr. Davis's statement, the staff report, witness statements, and watched the video surveillance. Dkt. 11-3. The DHO found Mr. Davis guilty and assessed sanctions that included the loss of ninety days earned credit time and a demotion in credit earning class. Id.

         Mr. Davis appealed to the Facility Head and the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority. Dkts. 7 & 9. Both appeals were denied. Id. Mr. Davis then brought this petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He presents three grounds for relief.

         C. Analysis

         1. ...

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