Daniels v Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 1 PETITION for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Petitioner Ramar Daniels. Clerk DIRECTED to close this case. Signed by Judge Rudy Lozano on 3/31/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party).(cer)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:16-CV-180
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on a Petition under 28 U.S.C.
Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus by a person in State
Custody Seeking Review of a Prison Disciplinary Sanction, filed by
Ramar Daniels, a pro se prisoner, on March 25, 2015. Here, Daniels
challenges a disciplinary determination made by a hearing officer
at the Westville Correctional Facility (“Westville”) under case
number WCC 15-10-0291. For the reasons set forth below, the court
DENIES the petition (DE 1). The clerk is DIRECTED to close this
On October 9, 2015, Correctional Officer Robinson prepared a
conduct report charging Daniels with threatening. (DE 8-1.) The
conduct report stated:
On the date and time above I officer Robinson while
making my secured round I found Offender Daniels, Ramar
104542 making an unnessary [sic] fire in the microwave.
Offender was given a direct order to stop an[d] give it
up[. H]e failed to comply[.] Instead he ran with the fire
material and flushed it in the toilet[. H]e later came
back and got in my face and stated the following: “I’m
going to write your ass up again and get you fucked up
motherfucker, and get you out of here.” I officer
Robinson felt intimidated by Offender Daniels, Ramar
104542 and supervisor was notified.
On October 16, 2015, Daniels was notified of the charge of
threatening and served with a copy of the conduct report and the
screening report. (DE 8-2.) The screening report reflects that he
pled not guilty and requested lay advocate. He did not ask to call
any witnesses but he did request video evidence. (Id.) On October
20, 2015, after disciplinary hearing officer (“DHO”) Finn conducted
a video review:
Upon review of the video footage, I, Officer Finn,
observe Offender Daniels, Ramar 104542 make a fire at the
microwave near the entry door of PI. The offender then
goes to the restroom on the North hall. Officer Robinson
is then seen walking toward the restroom. Offender
Daniels and her are seen talking after he exits. Offender
Daniels walks toward the dayroom, turns around and heads
back towards the officers’ station. There is no audio
On October 23, 2015, DHO Finn conducted a disciplinary hearing
and found Daniels guilty of the charge of threatening. (DE 8-5.) At
the hearing, Daniels’s comment was, “She wasn’t never taking to me.
I walked right past her. I’m in prison for killing her brother.
That’s why she keeps lying on me.” (Id.)
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
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).
Here, Daniels raises two claims in his petition: (1) there was
insufficient evidence to support the conviction; and (2) the
mischaracterize the video evidence.
First, Daniels claims there was insufficient evidence to find
determination for sufficiency of the evidence, “courts are not
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). “[T]he relevant
question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could
Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455-56 (1985). The court will
overturn the hearing officer’s decision only if “no reasonable
adjudicator could have found [the prisoner] guilty of the offense
on the basis of the evidence presented.” Henderson v. United States
Parole Comm'n, 13 F.3d 1073, 1077 (7th Cir. 1994). Additionally, a
hearing officer is permitted to rely on circumstantial evidence to
establish guilt. See Hamilton v. O’Leary, 976 F.2d 341, 345 (7th
Threatening, offense B-213, prohibits communicating to another
person a plan to physically harm, harass, or intimidate that person
or someone else. (DE 8 at 7.) (Citing the Adult Disciplinary
Process for Offenses within the Indiana Department of Corrections).
In this case, it is clear that the record contains “some evidence”
to support the hearing officer’s determination that Daniels was
guilty of threatening. The conduct report is some evidence that
Daniels threatened Officer Robinson. McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786
(7th Cir. 1999) (conduct report alone provided some evidence to
support disciplinary determination). Indeed, the conduct report
communicated a plan to harass or intimidate Officer Robinson by
threatening to write her up. Second, he communicated a plan to harm
however, because there is no audio it neither corroborates nor
undermines the contents of Daniels’ threats. Although Daniels
denies that he threatened Officer Robinson, it is not the province
of this court to re-weigh evidence. Because there is some evidence
to support the hearing officer’s determination, there is no basis
for granting habeas relief on this ground.
Second, Daniels claims he was denied the right to an impartial
decision-maker. 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 v.
Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003). 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
Here, Daniels alleges that the hearing officer was a personal
friend with the report writer. However, even if this is true, it
would not provide a basis for granting federal habeas relief.
Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68
(1991); Hester v. McBride,
966 F. Supp. 765, 774-75 (N.D. Ind. 1997). Moreover, there is no
evidence that the hearing officer was in any way involved in the
conduct or investigation leading to the disciplinary charge. Nor do
any adverse rulings establish impermissible bias. Liteky v. United
States, 510 U.S. 540, 555–56 (1994). Daniels complains that because
of the hearing officer’s friendship with Officer Robinson, the
hearing officer mischaracterized the video footage. However, the
court has reviewed the video, and it appears as though DHO Finn’s
summary is accurate. Thus, Daniels has failed to establish a
violation of his federal due process rights.
For the reasons set forth above, the court DENIES the petition
(DE 1). The clerk is DIRECTED to close this case.
DATED: March 31, 2017
/s/RUDY LOZANO, Judge
United State District Court
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