Robinson v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 3 AMENDED PETITION for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Petitioner Adonis Robinson; GRANTING 10 MOTION to Withdraw Motion to Seal by Respondent Superintendent. Clerk DIRECTED to edit the docket to show the Motion to Seal ( DE 7 ) was WITHDRAWN and to UNSEAL the Sealed Document (DE 8 ). Clerk DIRECTED to close this case. Petitioner DENIED leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. Signed by Senior Judge James T Moody on 5/30/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party). (cer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
No. 3:16 CV 166
OPINION and ORDER
Adonis Robinson, a pro se prisoner, filed an amended habeas corpus petition (DE
# 3) challenging the prison disciplinary hearing (MCF 15-07-184) where the Disciplinary
Hearing Officer (“DHO”) found him guilty of Use and/or Possession of [a] Cellular
Telephone or Other Wireless or Cellular Communications Device in violation of Indiana
Department of Correction (“IDOC”) policy A-121. As a result, Robinson was sanctioned
with the loss of 75 days earned credit time and demoted from Credit Class 1 to Credit
Along with the response to the petition (DE # 6) on September 8, 2016, the
Respondent filed a motion (DE # 7) requesting to seal documents containing Robinson’s
phone records. The court ordered Respondent to identify a specific security concern
posed by disclosure of the records or move to withdraw the motion to seal. (DE # 9.) In
response, the Respondent filed a motion to withdraw the motion to seal. (DE # 10.) The
court agrees that unsealing the phone records (DE # 8) will be neither harmful nor
compromise the security of the facility.
Because the unsealed document is not required to resolve any of the three
grounds raised in the amended habeas corpus petition, it is unnecessary to order rebriefing in this case. Robinson did not file a traverse. The deadline for doing so passed
long ago. See N.D. Ind. L. Cr. R. 47-2 (“A party who files a petition under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254 . . . must file any reply brief within 28 days after the answer brief is served.”).
Therefore this case is fully briefed.
In Ground One, Robinson argues that the DHO did not consider his statements
that the phone belonged to someone else. (DE # 3 at 2.) The Disciplinary Hearing Report
includes Robinson’s statement that he “never used [the] phone.” (DE # 6-5.) This shows
the DHO heard and considered Robinson’s statements about the phone belonging to
someone else. However, the DHO chose not to believe Robinson, and it is not for this
court to reweigh the evidence. McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999).
In Ground Two, Robinson argues there was insufficient evidence to have found
him guilty. (DE # 3 at 2.)
[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). A Conduct Report alone can be sufficient evidence to
support a finding of guilt. McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786. Such is the case here.
The Conduct Report (DE # 6-1) states: “On [7/13/15 at 1400], I Sgt. Nice was
review evidence. The evidence was a blue and black AT&T flip phone. While looking
through the phone there was a text message as a draft in the outgoing message box. The
phone number it was addressed supposed to go to was ran in the offender phone
system. The number was on offenders Robinson, Adonis 191031 active phone list.”
Based on this evidence, it was not arbitrary for the DHO to have concluded that
Robinson had possession of the phone when the draft text message was written.
Though it is possible that someone else was trying to send a text message to a person on
Robinson’s phone list, the Constitution does not require evidence that logically
precludes any conclusion but the one reached by the disciplinary board.” Superintendent
v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 457 (1985).
In Ground Three, Robinson argues that it was a conflict of interest for the
Screening Officer to have been the same person who wrote the Conduct Report. (DE # 3
at 2.) Prisoners have a right to a fair and impartial decision-maker. See generally Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566 (1974).
Due process requires disqualification of a decisionmaker who was directly
or substantially involved in the underlying incident, Gaither v. Anderson, 236
F.3d 817, 820 (7th Cir. 2000), and we have assumed that a decisionmaker
might likewise be impermissibly biased if his spouse is a crucial witness in
the proceeding, see Eads v. Hanks, 280 F.3d 728, 729 (7th Cir. 2002). A hearing
officer is not automatically deemed biased, however, simply because he
adjudicated or was involved in a previous disciplinary charge against the
prisoner. See Piggie, 342 F.3d at 666−67; Pannell, 306 F.3d at 502.
Perotti v. Marberry, 355 F. App’x. 39, 43 (7th Cir. 2009). In the case at hand, the Screening
Officer was not a decision-maker. That is to say, the Screening Officer was not the same
person as the DHO. The Screening Officer was merely the person who notified
Robinson of the charge against him and asked what witnesses and evidence he wanted
to present. Then Robinson completed and signed the Screening Report. (DE # 6-2.) This
dual role was not a conflict of interest and it is not a basis for habeas corpus relief.
Finally, in Grounds One and Two, Robinson mentions that he was not shown the
cell phone or the text messages. 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).
If Robinson wants to appeal this order, he does not need a certificate of
appealability because he is challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding. See Evans v.
Circuit Court, 569 F.3d 665, 666 (7th Cir. 2009). However, he may not proceed in forma
pauperis on appeal because pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) an appeal in this case
could not be taken in good faith.
For these reasons, the court:
(1) GRANTS the motion (DE # 10) to withdraw the motion to seal (DE # 7);
(2) DIRECTS the clerk to edit the docket to show the motion to seal (DE # 7) was
withdrawn and to unseal the sealed document (DE # 8);
(3) DENIES the habeas corpus petition (DE # 3)
The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case. Petitioner is DENIED leave to proceed in
forma pauperis on appeal.
Date: May 30, 2017
s/James T. Moody
JUDGE JAMES T. MOODY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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