United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
R. SWEENEY II JUDGE
prison inmate Michael Wallace petitions for a writ of habeas
corpus challenging a prison disciplinary sanction imposed in
case number WVE 18-09-0037. For the reasons explained in this
Order, Mr. Wallace's habeas petition must be
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).
The Disciplinary Proceeding
September 7, 2018, Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC)
Analyst S. Zimmerman was monitoring outgoing mail at the
Wabash Valley Correctional Facility. He read a letter sent by
Mr. Wallace and prepared a Report of Conduct charging Mr.
Wallace with conspiracy/attempting to traffic, a violation of
the IDOC's Adult Disciplinary Code offenses A-111 &
A-113. The Report of Conduct states:
On 9/7/2018 while monitoring outgoing mail I, Analyst S.
Zimmerman did read a letter being mailed by Offender Michael
Wallace #956850 with instructions “to order some spray
from China and put it on Charles and Obam car.” With 27
years of professional experience and training with the
Department of Correction I am aware that the
“spray” referred to in the letter is synthetic
marijuana, and the term “car” is a slang word for
paper. The contents of the letter clearly indicate that
Offender Wallace is conspiring/attempting to traffick
synthetic marijuana into the facility.
Wallace was notified of the charge on September 13, 2018,
when he received the Screening Report. Dkt. 11-4. He pleaded
not guilty to the charge. Id. Mr. Wallace asked that
Analyst Zimmerman be called as a witness and “prove
[that] she knows “car” means paper.”
Id. As evidence, Mr. Wallace asked for other conduct
reports where Analyst Zimmerman “wrote up [other]
offenders for using the slang word car.” Id.
Zimmerman was notified of Mr. Wallace's witness and
evidence demands. Dkt. 11-5. She responded that she has
“27 years of professional experience and training in
the DOC. That is sufficient.” Id. She did not
provide any other answer to Mr. Wallace's testimonial
demand other than to write “That is sufficient.”
Id. Analyst Zimmerman also declined to provide Mr.
Wallace with conduct reports of other offenders, stating that
to do so would be contrary to policy. Id.
disciplinary hearing was held on September 25, 2018. Dkt. 2-1
at 9; dkt. 11-6. Mr. Wallace gave a statement that Analyst
Zimmerman mixed up his words and added that his family and
friend paint cars and houses. Id. The hearing
officer considered 26 pages of “evidence” that
Mr. Wallace brought to the hearing. See dkt. 11-7
(Offender's Hearing Evidence). The evidence was a lengthy
written statement from Mr. Wallace explaining what business
his family is in and asserting, therefore, that the letter at
issue in the disciplinary hearing, dkt. 11-3, was
misinterpreted. Mr. Wallace's evidence also included
several photographs of vehicles and buildings that he or his
family had worked on, and invoices from companies his family
dealt with. Dkt. 11-7.
addition to Mr. Wallace's evidence, the hearing officer
also considered the staff reports and the letter at issue.
Dkt. 2-1 at 9; dkt. 11-6. The hearing officer found Mr.
Wallace guilty of the charge, noting that he found the staff
statement (report) and the letter to be “true and
accurate.” Id. Because of the seriousness of
the offense and for the likelihood of sanctions having a
corrective effect on Mr. Wallace's future behavior, the
sanctions imposed were 90 days in restrictive housing, the
loss of 90 earned credit days, loss of telephone use for 30
days, and a suspended reduction in credit earning class.
Wallace appealed to the Facility Head and the IDOC Final
Reviewing Authority, but neither appeal was successful. Dkt.
2-1 at 1-8; dkts. 11-8 & 11-9. He then brought this
petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254, asserting five grounds for relief. Dkt. 2.