Woods v Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER: The Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody Seeking Review of a Prison Disciplinary Sanction is DENIED and this case is DISMISSED., ***Civil Case Terminated. Signed by Judge Theresa L Springmann on 12/1/14. (jld)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SHED TREVEL WOODS,
CAUSE NO. 3:13-CV-1187-TLS
OPINION AND ORDER
On November 14, 2013, Shed Trevel Woods, a pro se prisoner, filed a Petition Under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody Seeking Review of a
Prison Disciplinary Sanction [ECF No. 1]. The petition challenged the prison disciplinary
hearing (MCF 13-09-085) that was held at the Miami Correctional Facility on September 17,
2013. The Disciplinary Hearing Body (“DHB”) found him guilty of Assault/Battery With a
Weapon in violation of A-102 and sanctioned him with the loss of 360 days earned credit time
and demoted him from Credit Class 2 to Credit Class 3. The Petitioner raised seven grounds in
his habeas corpus petition.
On January 21, 2014, the Court issued an Order [ECF No. 21] dismissing Grounds One,
Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven; and ordering the Respondent to file a response to Ground
Two. On March 3, 2014, the Respondent filed a response to Ground Two [ECF No. 8], which
included a complete administrative record of the Petitioner’s prison disciplinary hearing. For the
reasons stated in this Opinion and Order, the Court will deny the Petitioner’s habeas corpus
petition in full.
The Petitioner asserts that there was insufficient evidence for the DHB to find him guilty
of Assault/Battery With a Weapon. In evaluating whether there is adequate evidence to support
the findings 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.”
Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455–56 (1985). “This is a lenient standard, requiring no
more than a modicum of evidence.” Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citations and quotation marks omitted); see also McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th
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.
(quotations marks and citation omitted). Here, the DHB relied on a confidential record that was
filed with the Court, but not disclosed to the petitioner because “prison disciplinary boards are
entitled to receive, and act on, information that is withheld from the prisoner and the public.”
White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 767 (7th Cir. 2001). The Court has reviewed the
confidential record in this case and is satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to find that the
Petitioner was guilty of Assault/Battery With a Weapon, namely, assaulting another offender
with a broom. Therefore, the Petitioner’s claim in Ground 2 is dismissed.
Petitioner’s Previously Dismissed Grounds for Relief
The Court notes that on March 19, 2014, the Petitioner filed a Declaration to Traverse
[ECF No. 10], which contains additional arguments related to the other grounds for relief raised
in his habeas corpus petition and dismissed in the Court’s Order on January 21, 2014. For the
sake of clarity and completeness, the Court will, again, address the Petitioner’s claims.
The Petitioner asserted in Ground 1 that he was denied a lay advocate during the
disciplinary hearing. However, the Petitioner is not entitled to a lay advocate, and accordingly,
this is not a basis for habeas corpus relief. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570 (1974)
(lay advocate only required when the inmate is illiterate or the issues are complex); see also
Miller v. Duckworth, 963 F.2d 1002 (7th Cir. 1992); Wilson-El v. Finnan, 263 Fed. App’x 503
(7th Cir. 2008).
In Ground Three, the Petitioner asserted that he was denied the right to present a witness
statement from the screening officer who notified him of the charges against him in this case. He
also asserted that he was denied the right to present a witness statement from the hearing officer
who had previously found him not guilty of these charges. Though an inmate has a right to
present relevant, exculpatory evidence, “[p]rison officials must have the necessary discretion to
keep the hearing within reasonable limits.” Wolff, 418 U.S. at 556. Here, the guards whom the
Petitioner wished to call as witnesses did not have personal knowledge about whether he
assaulted another inmate with a broom. They did not see the assault, conduct the investigation, or
have any relevant or exculpatory evidence to present. Therefore, DHB properly refused to
consider the witnesses’ testimony.
In Grounds Four and Five, the Petitioner asserted that he was denied the right to present
documentary evidence because confidential statements were considered outside of his presence.
However, “prison disciplinary boards are entitled to receive, and act on, information that is
withheld from the prisoner and the public.” White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 767 (7th Cir.
2001). Accordingly, the Petitioner’s evidence was presented because the DHB did, in fact,
consider the evidence.
In Ground Six, the Petitioner asserted that he was denied the opportunity to confront and
cross-examine the witnesses against him. However, an inmate in a prison disciplinary hearing
has no right to confront or cross-examine witnesses. Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th
Cir. 2003); see Wolff, 418 U.S. at 556 (“Prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal
prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant in such proceedings does not apply”).
In Ground Seven, the Petitioner asserted that the charge was vindictive and retaliatory.
But “even assuming fraudulent conduct on the part of prison officials, the protection from such
arbitrary action is found in the procedures mandated by due process.” McPherson, 188 F.3d at
787. Therefore, the motivation for filing the charge against the Petitioner is not a basis for habeas
Finally, the Petitioner argued that various actions taken during the course of his prison
disciplinary investigation and prosecution violated prison policies. However, the violation of a
prison policy is irrelevant to a determination of whether he is entitled to habeas corpus relief
because “[i]n conducting habeas review, a federal court is limited to deciding whether a
conviction violated the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Estelle v. McGuire,
502 U.S. 62, 67–68 (1991).
For the foregoing reasons, the Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas
Corpus by a Person in State Custody Seeking Review of a Prison Disciplinary Sanction is
DENIED and this case is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED on December 1, 2014.
s/ Theresa L. Springmann
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FORT WAYNE DIVISION
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