United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND
DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Lax's (“Mr. Lax”) petition for a writ of
habeas corpus challenges his conviction in a prison
disciplinary proceeding identified as CIC 18-04-0446. For the
reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Lax's petition must
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
18-04-0446 is based on the following conduct report written
on April 26, 2018, by Investigator A. Mills:
On 3/30/2018 at approx 2:18 pm, Offender Mark Lax 988393
(22L-3AS) assaulted Officer J. McGriff outside of the
visiting room. Offender Lax had just concluded a visit and
became argumentative with staff because they were unable to
locate food items that were purchased by his visitor for him.
Offender Lax refused several orders from multiple staff to
return to his assigned housing unit and to submit to
restraints. Due to Offender Lax's continued refusal to
comply with orders to submit to restraints and displaying
increasingly aggressive and volatile behavior, Offender Lax
was sprayed with OC. When Sgt. M. Snow attempted to place
Offender Lax in restraints, Offender Lax assaulted Sgt Snow.
Officer J. McGriff attempted to assist in placing Offender
Lax in restraints and was also assaulted by Offender Lax.
Offender Lax punched Officer McGriff in the head. Officer
McGriff received injuries from this assault and was sent to
seek outside medical evaluation as a result of these
injuries. Offender Lax's assault of Officer McGriff
places him in violation of ADP code A-102 Staff assault.
portion of the conduct report reading, “Disposition of
physical evidence, if any, ” Investigator Mills wrote,
“See CONFIDENTIAL case file 18-CIC-0033.”
Id. The confidential case file includes 130 pages of
documents related to this incident, including a report of
investigation; photographs of Mr. Lax, the officers involved
in the incident, and their clothing; medical records
documenting the officers' injuries; and reports by the
officers involved in the incident. Dkt. 16. Notably, the
confidential case file includes photographs showing bruising
near Officer McGriff's right eye. See Id. at
39-42. It also includes an injury report by Officer McGriff
in which he states, “Offender punched me on the right
side of my head.” Id. at 73..
April 28, 2018, Mr. Lax received notice that he had been
charged with assaulting staff in violation of Code A-102.
Dkt. 14-3. He was convicted at a hearing on May 3, 2018. Dkt.
14-5. According to the hearing officer, Mr. Lax asserted in
his defense that he did not strike Officer McGriff on purpose
but was defending himself after being sprayed with OC.
Id. The hearing officer explained that he found Mr.
Lax guilty based on all the evidence in the confidential case
file, video of the incident, and photos of staff.
hearing officer assessed sanctions, including the deprivation
of 365 days' earned credit time. Id. In
addition, the hearing officer recommended that Mr. Lax be
deprived of all his earned credit time pursuant to
an Indiana Department of Correction (“IDOC”)
executive directive because his assault was against a staff
member. Id. However, the IDOC eventually vacated
that additional sanction. Dkt. 14-10 Mr. Lax's
administrative appeals were otherwise denied. See
dkts. 14-7, 14-8, 14-9.
Lax's numerous challenges to his conviction in CIC
18-04-0446 can be divided into four categories. One group of
challenges asserts that he was denied due process because the
prison staff did not adhere to IDOC policies and procedures
in documenting and administrating the disciplinary proceeding
and the event that gave rise to it. The second group takes
issue with the severity of the sanctions assessed against
him. The third concerns the evidence supporting Mr. Lax's
conviction. Finally, Mr. Lax argues that his conviction was
wrongful because his actions were the result of the
officers' use of force against him. For the reasons set
forth below, none of these challenges identifies a
due-process violation entitling Mr. Lax to habeas relief.
Failure to ...