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Hardy v. Warden

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

January 8, 2020

MARCUS A. HARDY, Petitioner,
v.
WARDEN, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO JUDGE

         Marcus A. Hardy, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging a disciplinary hearing (ISP 18-06-194) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”) found him guilty of battery in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) policy A-102. ECF 1 at 1. As a result, Hardy was sanctioned with the loss of 120 days earned credit time, a one-step demotion in credit class, and a fourteen-day loss of earned credit time from another disciplinary case. Id. The Warden has filed the administrative record and Hardy filed a traverse. Thus, this case is fully briefed.

         The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees prisoners certain procedural due process rights in prison disciplinary hearings: (1) advance written notice of the charges; (2) an opportunity to be heard before an impartial decision-maker; (3) an opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in defense, when consistent with institutional safety and correctional goals; and (4) a written statement by the fact-finder of evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539 (1974). To satisfy due process, there must also be “some evidence” in the record to support the guilty finding. Superintendent, Mass. Corr Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985).

         In the context of a prison disciplinary hearing, “the relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.” Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56. “In reviewing a decision for some evidence, courts are not required to conduct an examination of the entire record, independently assess witness credibility, or weigh the evidence, but only determine whether the prison disciplinary board's decision to revoke good time credits has some factual basis.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (quotation marks omitted).

[T]he findings of a prison disciplinary board [need only] have the support of some evidence in the record. This is a lenient standard, requiring no more than a modicum of evidence. Even meager proof will suffice, so long as the record is not so devoid of evidence that the findings of the disciplinary board were without support or otherwise arbitrary. Although some evidence is not much, it still must point to the accused's guilt. It is not our province to assess the comparative weight of the evidence underlying the disciplinary board's decision.

Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks, citations, parenthesis, and ellipsis omitted).

         In this case, Hardy was charged with and found guilty of violating IDOC offense A-102, which prohibits an inmate from “[k]nowingly or intentionally touching another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner; or in a rude, insolent, or angry manner placing any bodily fluid or bodily waste on another person.” Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process: Appendix I. See https://www.in.gov/idoc/ files/02-04-101%20Appendix%20I%206-4-2018.pdf.

         Officer Charles Ritchey wrote a conduct report charging Hardy as follows:

Offender Hardy 159330 passed through the Recreation gate returning from chow [sic] He was shaking his finger at me and saying something I couldn't make out. I asked Sgt. Smith to stop the offender wearing earrings and get his name and cell location. A few minutes later Offender Hardy 159330 was walking from Check point 2 to the Recreation gate area without the earrings on. I told Offender Hardy 159330 to stop and not come any closer. I told Offender Hardy 159330 to return to his shelter multiple times, Offender Hardy 159330 said he wasn't going anywhere. I told him he could return to his shelter of his own accord or be escorted to his shelter. Again Offender Hardy 159330 refused to leave the area. I attempted to place handcuffs on Offender Hardy 159330. Offender Hardy 159330 struck me in the face multiple times. Offender Hardy 159330 was restrained b[]y staff and escorted out of the area.

         ECF 6-1 at 1. Officer Smith prepared the following memorandum about the incident:

On [June 16, 2018], I, Sergeant David Smith was working on Main Street when offender Marcus Hardy assaulted Ofc. Ritch[ey] outside the recreation gate. When I saw the offender and officer arguing I started walking towards the situation. Officer Ritch[ey] pulled out his cuffs grabbed the offender and then the offender pulled away and struck Ofc. Ritch[ey] with a closed fist. Ofc. Ritch[ey] then began defending himself. I sprayed the offender and cuffed him then I escorted him to MSU. Once at MSU the offender refused medical treatment and was given a ten minute decontamination shower by Sergeant Statham.

         ECF 6-2 at 1. A confidential incident report was also completed. ECF 8 at 1-10.

         On June 20, 2018, Hardy was notified of the A-102 charge and served with a copy of the conduct and screening reports. ECF 6-1 at 1; 6-3 at 1. After being notified of his rights, he pled guilty. ECF 6-3 at 1. Hardy did not request a lay advocate, witnesses, or physical evidence. Id.

         Hardy's hearing was held on June 22, 2018. ECF 6-4 at 1. Hardy pled guilty and did not provide a statement. Id. On the basis of the conduct report, the confidential incident report, and Hardy's guilty plea, the DHO found him guilty of offense A-102. Id. He was sanctioned with the loss of 120 days earned credit time, a one-step demotion ...


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