United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Bean, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus
petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (ISP 18-05-0020)
where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO) found him guilty
of counterfeiting or forging a document in violation of
Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy B-230 on May
15, 2018. ECF 1 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the
loss of 60 days earned credit time. Id. The Warden
has filed the administrative record and Bean has filed a
traverse. The Warden has also filed a reply to Bean's
traverse and Bean has filed a surreply to the Warden's
reply. Thus, the case is fully briefed.
Fourteenth Amendment guarantees prisoners certain procedural
due process rights in prison disciplinary hearings: (1)
advance written notice of the charges; (2) an opportunity to
be heard before an impartial decision-maker; (3) an
opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary
evidence in defense, when consistent with institutional
safety and correctional goals; and (4) a written statement by
the fact-finder of evidence relied on and the reasons for the
disciplinary action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S.
539 (1974). To satisfy due process, there must also be
“some evidence” in the record to support the
guilty finding. Superintendent, Mass. Corr Inst. v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985).
context of a prison disciplinary hearing, “the relevant
question is whether there is any evidence in the record that
could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary
board.” Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56. “In
reviewing a decision for some evidence, courts are not
required to conduct an examination of the entire record,
independently assess witness credibility, or weigh the
evidence, but only determine whether the prison disciplinary
board's decision to revoke good time credits has some
factual basis.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d
784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (quotation marks omitted).
[T]he findings of a prison disciplinary board [need only]
have the support of some evidence in the record. This is a
lenient standard, requiring no more than a modicum of
evidence. Even meager proof will suffice, so long as the
record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings of the
disciplinary board were without support or otherwise
arbitrary. Although some evidence is not much, it still must
point to the accused's guilt. It is not our province to
assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the
disciplinary board's decision.
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000)
(quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis
case, Bean was found guilty of violating IDOC offense B-230,
which prohibits inmates from “[c]ounterfeiting,
forging, or unauthorized reproduction or possession of any
document, article, identification, money, passes, security or
official paper.” Indiana Department of Correction,
Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I.
Schneider, a caseworker manager, wrote a conduct report
charging Bean as follows:
On Wed May 2nd 2018 shortly before 8am Law Library Supervisor
Leonard called me, CM3 Joseph Schneider, and told me that
Offender Bean 190546 from PC B1 4 had sent her legal work to
be copied but that the notary page had been torn off of
another piece of legal work and taped onto this one. I told
her I would like to see it before she made copies and sent it
to him. What she sent me was a hand written legal document
but page 2 contained an area for a notary signature and seal
previously signed by myself from a typed legal document.
This previously notarized section was cut off of old legal
work and taped on, also in the section that states when I
notarized it the month and year have been covered in white
out and changed to a more recent date. I did not make this
change to the month and date of notarization nor did I
notarize this piece of legal work for offender Bean
especially since we are to notarize after they sign the form
which he did not even do.
ECF 10-1 at 1.
10, 2018, Bean was notified of the charge when he was served
with the conduct and screening reports. ECF 10-1 at 1; 10-3
at 1. During his screening, he pled not guilty and asked for
the assistance of a lay advocate. ECF 10-3 at 1; 10-4 at 1.
Bean requested two witnesses-offender Mark Henry, who was his
lay advocate, and Ms. Bessie Leonard, the law library
supervisor. ECF 10-3 at 1. He also requested the prison's
security video footage of offender Justice, who worked as a
law library clerk, handling his legal paperwork and the video
of him altering or forging the document at issue in this
request of the hearing officer, offender Henry and Ms.
Leonard provided written statements. On May 11, 2018,
offender Henry wrote the following statement:
I have been housed with offender Bean in B-block for
approximately [two] years. Over that time span I've
witnessed many snide/unprofessional responses to Mr.
Bean's requests for legal work coming from Clerk Justice.
Clerk Justice handles all the legal work requested from the
PCU and has motive to retaliate against Mr. Bean due to his
complaining to Ms. Leonard about Justice's poor quality
ECF 10-7 at 1. Ms. Leonard provided a statement in response
to the hearing officer's question: “[w]hat law
clerk handles PCU Requests?” ECF 10-8 at 1. Ms. Leonard
stated: “I was the one to notice the altered documents