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Scales v. Warden

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

December 16, 2019

MICHAEL SCALES, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

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

          JAMES R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE.

         Michael Scales' petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges his conviction in a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as NCF 18-09-0088. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Mr. Scales' 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

         NCF 18-09-0088 began with a conduct report by Investigator Barnham on September 14, 2018. Dkt. 7-1. The report states, in relevant part:

A conversation occurred between inmate Scales and a former NCCF female Correctional Officer, via the GTL phone system, he told her if she files a complaint that people will talk shit and guess what I still have a year and a half left in this bitch and if you want to do that it will cause trouble. The Co's are going to start flipping out and if they want to run their cocksuckers, I will beat up a CO. This place is petty as fuck.

Id.

         On September 24, 2018, Mr. Scales received a screening report notifying him that he had been charged with violating Code 213, “Threatening.” Dkt. 7-2. Mr. Scales requested to review video of the incident, but that request was denied on grounds that the phone call was not captured on video. Id.

         NCF 18-09-0088 proceeded to a hearing on September 26, 2018. Dkt. 7-4. According to the hearing officer's report, Mr. Scales admitted to making the statements alleged in the conduct report, but he disputed that they were threats Id. Mr. Scales stated that he was “venting” and that he “would not touch a C.O.” Id. Nevertheless, after considering the conduct report, Mr. Scales' statement, and a recording of the phone call, the hearing officer found Mr. Scales guilty. Id. The hearing officer explained:

Based on cond. report, evidence and offender statement conversation is in the cond. report. I have heard the phone call.
- Guilty -

Id.

         The hearing officer assessed sanctions, including rescinding 45 days' earned credit time that had previously been restored. Id.; dkt. 7-5. Mr. ...


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