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Miller v. Warden

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

December 13, 2019

GARY MILLER, JR., Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

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

          SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The petition of Gary Miller, Jr., for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. NCF 18-08-0090. For the reasons explained in this Order, Mr. Miller's habeas petition must be denied.

         A. Overview

         Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004) (per curiam), or of credit-earning class, Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641, 644-45 (7th Cir. 2001), without due process. The due process requirement is satisfied with the issuance of advance written notice of the charges, a limited opportunity to present evidence to an impartial decision-maker, a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the evidence justifying it, and “some evidence in the record” to support the finding of guilt. Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570-71 (1974); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).

         B. The Disciplinary Proceeding

         On August 16, 2018, Sgt. Anderson charged Miller with offense B-215, unauthorized possession of property:

On the above date & approx. time I, Sgt. Anderson, was conducting a search of Off. Miller (232853) when I did find him to be in possession of “legal mail” belonging to Off. Paterson (260210) & “legal mail” written by Off. Wooden (945995) to be processed by the above stated Offender. This Offender does not have approval to be in possession of another offender's legal mail. He was advised of this conduct.

         Dkt. 11-1.

         On August 17, 2018, the screening officer notified Mr. Miller of the charge, which had been changed to offense B-247, possession or solicitation of unauthorized personal information. The screening officer provided Mr. Miller copies of the conduct and screening reports. Id.; dkt. 11-2. The screening officer notified Mr. Miller of his rights and Mr. Miller pleaded not guilty. Dkt. 11-2. Mr. Miller requested a lay advocate, and one was appointed to him. He did not request any evidence but did request inmates Paterson and Wooden as witnesses. Id.

         Inmate Wooden's witness statement provided, “This man was going to help me to do my (Haib) for Court. We was going to the Law Lib. Together, this is the only Reason why I gave him my name. Thank you!” Dkt. 11-4. Inmate Paterson stated that, “I Mr. Paterson had went up to library working on my Habe [sic] and had Been talking to a few people up there to cite case logs [sic]. This man was one of them as He had been employed as a lay advocate in the library when I started my Habe. I Believe full heartedly His intentions were good to return my paperwork and that He had no malicious intentions.” Dkt. 11-5.

         On August 20, 2018, the disciplinary hearing officer held the hearing. Mr. Miller pleaded not guilty and stated that, “I was helping these guys out because I am good at it. Sgt. Anderson put there DOC numbers in the cond. report. CAB appeals are not legal work.” Dkt. 11-6. The hearing officer found Mr. Miller guilty of offense B-247 “[b]ased on cond. report, evidence, offender and witness statements, Sgt. Anderson found items on him. This is the 2nd time he has done this but first cond. Report.” Id. The hearing officer sanctioned Mr. Miller to a 30-day loss of privileges and a 60-day loss of good-time credit.

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

         C. Analysis

         Mr. Miller raises three grounds in support of his habeas petition: 1) the Adult Disciplinary Procedures handbook states that disciplinary hearing appeals are not considered legal work; 2) Sgt. Anderson put the other offender's IDOC numbers on the conduct report, in contradiction of him being written up for being in possession of personal information; ...


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