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Turner v. Warden

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

October 16, 2019

KEVIN S. TURNER, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

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

          JAMES R. SWEENEY II JUDGE

         Indiana prison inmate Kevin S. Turner petitions for a writ of habeas corpus challenging a prison disciplinary sanction imposed in disciplinary case number IYC 18-08-0027. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Turner’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 F. App’x 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 3, 2018, Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) Correctional Officer Gagne wrote a Report of Conduct charging Mr. Turner with possession of altered property, a violation of the IDOC’s Adult Disciplinary Code offense B-228. The Report of Conduct states:

At approximately 0950 AM on 08/03/18 Offender Turner #922829 02 12M was advised to pick up his KOPs. Medical contacted North to advise that they have not received their offender. At 950 AM Offender Turner arrives to North and explains that he had gone to receiving. His whereabouts were unknown. I Ofc R. Gagne removed and confiscated the property that he had arrived with. Upon the search of his property three items were discovered. A fake legal documents book with a cut out of what seemed to hold a cell phone[, a] copper wired material attached to what seemed to be a phone charger. Along with several white pills wrapped in plastic.

Dkt. 8-1.

         Mr. Turner was notified of the charge on August 7, 2018, when he received the Screening Report. Dkt. 8-4. He pleaded not guilty to the charge, indicated he did not wish to call any witnesses, and asked for physical evidence. Mr. Turner asked for video evidence of him at the medical desk on August 3, 2018, at 9:50 a.m., telling them he did not take keep-on-person (KOP) medications. Id.

         A hearing was held on August 25, 2018. Mr. Turner admitted his guilt and signed the Report of Disciplinary Hearing form next to the statement “I’m guilty.” Dkt. 8-6. Based on that statement and the staff reports, the hearing officer found Mr. Turner guilty. Id. The sanctions imposed were a thirty-day earned-credit-time deprivation, a written reprimand to not commit the offense again, twenty days of extra work duty, and fifteen days loss of JPay, commissary, and telephone usage. Id. The hearing officer noted the reason for the sanction was due to the nature of the offense. Id.

         Mr. Turner appealed to the Facility Head and the IDOC Final Reviewing Authority, both of which were denied. Dkts. 8-7, 8-8, & 8-9. He then brought this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         C. Analysis

         In his petition, Mr. Turner presents three grounds for relief: (1) that although the Report of Conduct was for a weapons charge, no weapon existed; (2) he was induced into pleading guilty by a promise to reduce the charge to a C-353 (unauthorized possession of property); and (3) the writer of the Report of Conduct used the phrase “cell phone and charger” to inflate the case and prejudice him. Dkt. 2 at 2-3. The Court discusses each ground in turn.

         1.Ground ...


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