Hale v Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Michael Hale. This case is DISMISSED. Signed by Judge William C Lee on 3/23/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(lns)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:15-CV-573 WL
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael Hale, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging a prison
disciplinary hearing (ISP 15-08-0019) that was held at the Indiana State Prison on August 14, 2015.
The Disciplinary Hearing Body (DHB) found him guilty of Battery in violation of B-212 and
sanctioned him with the loss of phone and commissary privileges, $25 restitution, 60 days of
disciplinary segregation, loss of 60 days earned credit time and demoted him to Credit Class 3. The
charges were initiated when Sergeant W. Springfield wrote a conduct report stating:
On 8/3/15 @ approx. 4:35 PM during CCH chow lines, I Sgt. W. Springfield
witnessed offender Hale 884687 fighting with offender Washington 197749 on Main
Street in front of ACH. I Sgt. W. Springfield called a 10-10 then proceeded to stop
the two offenders from fighting. I gave the offenders an order to stop fighting, they
did not stop[.] I then applied a 1 second burst of my chemical agent. The two
offenders then stopped fighting[.] At that time they were both cuffed. This report was
The screening report reflects that Hale was notified of the offense on August 6, 2015, and
pled not guilty, and did not request any witnesses or physical evidence. (DE 11-2.) A summary of
the security video was prepared, which states, “At approx. 4:30pm, offender[s] are walking down
the main street. At approx. 4:35pm offender Hale and offender Washington are walking side by side
up main street talking. Offender Hale then hits offender Washington, and they begin fighting while
on main street.” (DE 11-4.) A disciplinary hearing was conducted on August 14, 2015, where the
hearing officer took Hale’s statement, “He has been harassing me since I’ve been here. He comes
by my cell, and looks in. He asks me if I’m selling anything. He aggravates me.” (DE 11-7.) After
considering the evidence, the hearing officer found Hale guilty.(Id.) Hale’s appeals to the facility
head and the final reviewing authority were denied. (DE 11-8, 11-9.)
Here, Hale raises four claims in his petition: (1) he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence
against him; (2) he was denied an impartial hearing officer; and (3) his contact visits were taken
away; and (4) restitution was imposed without sufficient notice.
When prisoners lose earned time credits in a prison disciplinary hearing, they are entitled to
certain protections under the Due Process Clause: (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 a fact finder of evidence relied on and the reasons for the
disciplinary action. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 563 (1974). To satisfy due process, there
must also be “some evidence” to support the hearing officer’s decision. Superintendent, Mass. Corr.
Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985).
First, Hale argues the evidence is insufficient to support a battery charge. “[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.” Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649,
652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Even a Conduct Report alone can be
sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt. McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir.
1999). Here the Conduct Report and the Video Review Form are some evidence that Hale is guilty
Hale argues that this is inadequate to find him guilty of Battery because it shows that he and
the other offender were both fighting. Perhaps he thinks that a battery has to be a one-way activity
and that it cannot be done by two people to each other. If so, this is incorrect. Two people can batter
each other at the same time. Alternatively, perhaps he is arguing that he was acting in self-defense.
inmates do not have a constitutional right to raise self-defense as a defense in the
context of prison disciplinary proceedings. As such, the [DHB] was under no
constitutional obligation to allow [the] claim that he was merely defending himself
to serve as a complete defense to the charge of assault.
Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 848 (7th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted). Both the Conduct Report and
the video show that he battered the other inmate. Again, there is more than sufficient evidence to
have found him guilty of battery.
Second, Hale complains that he was denied an impartial hearing officer. In the prison
disciplinary context, adjudicators are “entitled to a presumption of honesty and integrity,” and “the
constitutional standard for improper bias is high.” Piggie, 342 F.3d at 666. Due process prohibits
a prison official who was personally and substantially involved in the underlying incident from
acting as a decision-maker in the case. Id. However, due process is not violated simply because the
hearing officer knew the inmate, presided over a prior disciplinary case, or had some limited
involvement in the event underlying the charge. Id. Here, Hale does not clearly explain why he
believes the hearing officer was biased, but there is no indication that he was involved in any way
in the events underlying the charge. Hale appears to believe the hearing officer was impartial
because the officer ruled against him and did not notify him at the hearing that there may be
restitution ordered due to an injury suffered by the other inmate. But adverse rulings alone do not
establish impermissible bias. Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555–56 (1994).
Third, Hale complains that contact visits were taken away from him. He argues that this
punishment is unconstitutional because it is unrelated to the battery. However, “[t]he denial of prison
access to a particular visitor is well within the terms of confinement ordinarily contemplated by a
prison sentence, and therefore is not independently protected by the Due Process Clause.” Kentucky
Dep’t of Corr. v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 461 (1989) (quotation marks and citation omitted).
Because Hale had no right to due process before his visitation was restricted, doing so after he was
afforded a hearing is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Finally, Hale complains that he was not told about having to pay restitution during the
disciplinary hearing. He does not dispute the amount of the restitution, he merely argues that he
should not have been ordered to pay it. However, habeas corpus relief is not available for
restitution because “[s]ection 2254 is the appropriate remedy only when the prisoner attacks the
fact or duration of ‘custody.’” Sylvester v. Hanks, 140 F.3d 713, 714 (7th Cir. 1998). See also
Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 487, (1995) (distinguishing between a prison disciplinary
sanction that will inevitably affect the duration of the inmate’s sentence and disciplinary
sanctions, such as placement in disciplinary segregation, that do not affect the duration of his
Not only is there sufficient evidence to find Hale guilty of the charged offense, but there
has been no showing that he was deprived any due process along the way. Based on the record,
there is sufficient evidence to find Hale guilty of battery, and Hale has not made a showing that
his due process rights have been violated.
For these reasons, the habeas corpus petition is DENIED and this case is DISMISSED.
ENTERED: March 23, 2017
s/William C. Lee
William C. Lee, Judge
United States District Court
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