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Triplett v. Butts

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

December 6, 2019

WILLIAM TRIPLETT, Petitioner,
v.
KEITH BUTTS, Respondent.

          Abigail Recker INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL

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

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         William Triplett's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges his conviction in a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as NCN 18-07-0020. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Triplett's petition must be denied.

         I. 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).

         II. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         NCN 18-07-0020 began with the following conduct report, which was written on July 16, 2018, by Officer LeMaster:

On the above date and approximate time, I, Officer LeMaster had Offender Triplett, William DOC # 257273 submit to a breathalyzer. Offender Triplett blew a BAC of .113. Offender Triplett was advised he would be receiving a conduct report.

Dkt. 7-1.

         Later on July 16, Mr. Triplett received a screening report notifying him that he had been charged with violating Code 231, Intoxicants. Dkt. 7-3. Mr. Triplett signed the screening report and pled not guilty. Id. However, he checked boxes stating that he did not request any evidence and did not request to call any witnesses at his disciplinary hearing. Id. No. other evidence in the record indicates that Mr. Triplett requested evidence or witnesses before or during his hearing.

         NCN 18-07-0020 proceeded to a hearing on July 18, 2018. Dkt. 7-5. The hearing officer's report documents that Mr. Triplett admitted that he was guilty of the charge. Id. Based on Mr. Triplett's statement, the conduct report, and a picture of a breathalyzer showing a reading of 0.113 (see dkt. 7-2), the hearing officer found Mr. Triplett guilty. Dkt. 7-5 The hearing officer assessed sanctions, including deprivation of 45 days' earned credit time and a suspended demotion of one credit-earning class. Id.

         On August 1, 2018, Mr. Triplett submitted an administrative appeal raising three issues. Dkt. 7-7. First, Mr. Triplett stated, “Conduct report states that I said I am guilty, I absolutely [sic] never said that!” Id. Second, Mr. Triplett disputed the accuracy of Officer LeMaster's conduct report. According to the appeal, Officer Triplett administered the breathalyzer test six times. Id. The first two tests showed a blood-alcohol concentration of 0, and the next four returned different results. Id. Finally, Mr. Triplett asserted that no evidence connects the photograph of the breathalyzer to him. Id. Mr. Triplett's administrative appeals were denied. Dkts. 7-6, 7-7.

         III. Analysis

         Mr. Triplett raises the same three issues in his habeas petition that he presented in his administrative appeals. The Court also considers a fourth issue implicated by Mr. Triplett's evidentiary challenges. For the ...


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