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Dent v. Brown

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 30, 2019

CHARLES E. DENT, Petitioner,
v.
DICK BROWN, Respondent.

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

          JAMES R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE

         The petition of Mr. Charles Dent for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as WVE 18-09-0020. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Dent'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 September 5, 2018, Mr. Dent was charged with violating Code B-213, threatening. The conduct report states:

On 9/5/2018, while monitoring live telephone calls I, Analyst S. Zimmerman did hear Offender Charles Dent #890623 communicate to another an intent to physically harm others. (see attached).

Dkt. 8-1. During the telephone call Mr. Dent said, “I'll kill every mother fucker in this bitch…” Dkt. 8-2.

         On September 12, 2018, Mr. Dent was given a copy of the conduct report and the notice of disciplinary hearing (screening report). Dkt. 8-1; dkt. 8-3. Mr. Dent requested his “confinement report” as evidence and a lay advocate, who was later appointed to him. Dkt. 8-5. On September 13, 2018, the disciplinary hearing was postponed in order to collect the evidence requested by Mr. Dent. Dkt. 8-4.

         The disciplinary hearing was held on September 18, 2018. Dkt. 8-6. Mr. Dent pleaded not guilty and stated, “I'm talking to family and I was just venting because [of] the death of my son. This is just out of hurt and pain and suffering.” Id. After considering the conduct report, the daily offender telephone log, and Mr. Dent's statement, the hearing officer found Mr. Dent guilty of violating Code B-213. Id. Mr. Dent was sanctioned with a suspended credit class demotion, which was later enforced when Mr. Dent was found guilty at a later disciplinary proceeding. Dkt. 17.

         Mr. Dent appealed to the facility head, who subsequently denied his appeal. Dkt. 8-8. Mr. Dent was not required to file a second level appeal because the sanction was initially suspended. Mr. Dent then brought this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Dent presents the following challenges to his disciplinary hearing and subsequent finding of guilt: 1) denial of evidence; 2) denial of impartial decision maker; and 3) violation of Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”) policies and procedures.

         1. Denia ...


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