Baker v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING re 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Clerk is DIRECTED to close this case. Signed by Senior Judge James T Moody on 11/08/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(sct)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
No. 3:16 CV 72
OPINION and ORDER
Albert Baker, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging a prison
disciplinary hearing (BTC 14-12-229) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO)
found him guilty of threatening another offender in violation of Indiana Department of
Correction (IDOC) policy B-213. (DE # 21-5 at 1.) As a result, Baker was sanctioned with
the loss of 90 days earned credit time.
Baker argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because the DHO did not
have sufficient evidence to find him guilty. In the disciplinary context, “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). “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).
An inmate violates IDOC B-213 by:
Engaging in any of the following:
1. Communicating to another person a plan to physically harm, harass
or intimidate that person or someone else.
2. Communicating a plan to cause damage to or loss of that person’s
or another person’s property.
3. Communicating a plan to intentionally make an accusation that
he/she knows is untrue or false.
Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I: Offenses
The Conduct Report charged Baker as follows:
On December 5, 2014 IA Department received a yellow offender
request slip dated 12/03/2014 addressed to Mr. J. Hendershot from Offender
Baker #900522. Written in the body of the yellow request slip was stated “I
told you guys the Logan Peters Kid had issues with other then me over my
daughter, me and him talked about this while in a dorm at the same time. If
you want all this shit to come to a halt so this kid can get settled settled (sic)
down come and see me.
I believe this is a threat intimidated towards IA and Offender Peters,
due to the evidence in BCF Case File 140BTC-234 that contains solid evidence
Offender Baker has threatened Offender Peters #203488.
(DE # 21-1.)
The DHO had sufficient evidence to find Baker guilty of violating B-212. The
evidence provided in the confidential investigation file reveals an ongoing conflict
between Baker and Peters during the time Baker sent the note to Officer Hendershot.
Based on Baker’s prior interactions with Peters, it was not unreasonable for the DHO to
interpret Baker’s note, which warned Internal Affairs to speak with him to ensure that
Peters remained free of harassment, as a threat to both IA and Offender Peters. Thus,
Baker is not entitled to habeas corpus relief based on the sufficiency of the evidence.
Baker argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because his request that
the DHO review a letter that he to sent to Superintendent Alvey was denied. While it is
unclear whether the DHO reviewed this letter,1 this claim does not serve as a basis for
granting habeas corpus relief. Inmates have a right to present relevant, exculpatory
evidence in their defense. Miller v. Duckworth, 963 F.2d 1002, 1005 (7th Cir. 1992).
Exculpatory in this context means evidence which “directly undermines the reliability
of the evidence in the record pointing to [the prisoner’s] guilt.” Meeks v. McBride, 81
F.3d 717, 721 (7th Cir. 1996). Baker’s letter, written after he received the disciplinary
charges, was not exculpatory. Rather, the letter merely explained why he did not
In his response to the order to show cause, Respondent provided the court with an
email correspondence in which the DHO asked Superintendent Alvey for a copy of the
letter, Superintendent Alvey stated that she did not have any correspondence from Baker,
and that she always returns the original correspondence at the time she answers the
inmate’s letter. Puzzlingly, however, the very next page in the response contains a copy of
Baker’s letter to Superintendent Alvey. Because Respondent was ordered to produce the
full and complete administrative file, and this letter was contained in that file, the DHO
presumably reviewed the letter.
believe he should be found guilty. His explanation provided the very same facts that
the DHO used to find Baker guilty; namely, the history of his feud with Peters. Thus,
Baker is not entitled to habeas corpus relief because the letter was not exculpatory
Moreover, even if Baker did have a right to present the letter, and this right was
denied, he is not entitled to habeas corpus relief because he suffered no harm. See Piggie
v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003) (where a prisoner is denied the opportunity to
present relevant evidence, the prisoner must establish that the denial of the evidence
resulted in actual prejudice, rather than harmless error). During his hearing, Baker
submitted a substantially similar letter to the DHO in his defense. Thus, even if the
DHO did not review the letter Baker sent to Superintendent Alvey, the DHO
nevertheless was in possession of the information and arguments contained in the
letter, and Baker suffered no harm. Thus, Baker is not entitled to habeas corpus relief.
For the reasons set forth above, the petition (DE # 1) is DENIED. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to close this case.
Date: November 8, 2017
s/James T. Moody
JUDGE JAMES T. MOODY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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