Daniels v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Petitioner Ramar Daniels. This case is DISMISSED. Signed by Judge William C Lee on 4/3/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(lns)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:16-CV-181 WL
OPINION AND ORDER
Ramar Daniels, a pro se prisoner, filed a habeas corpus petition challenging WCC-15-110231, a prison disciplinary proceeding held at the Westville Correctional Facility on November 23,
2015, where a disciplinary hearing officer found him guilty of Threatening in violation of B-213.
The sanctions imposed included a 90 day loss of earned credit time.
This charge was initiated when Administrative Assistant T. Cambe wrote a conduct report:
On the above date and time [November 16, 2015, 0730] I (Mr. T. Cambe) did
receive a returned grievance from Ramar Daniels #104542 in the grievance
mailbox. The correspondence written by the offender states, “To: T. Cambe, you
fag, remember my name and remember my E.P.R.D. And please understand bitch
you can’t write me up when I get out, so keep playing your little ass games”.
Daniels submitted a Request for Interview form addressed to Cambe dated November 19,
2015, and stated:
Yea, fag I got your conduct report lying talking about I threaten your bitch ass.
Cracker, tell them you feel scared so I can get transferred to a different facility
cause that’s what I want. So I’ll just use your lying cracker ass to get what I want.
Since I can’t get you to process my grievance and all you bitches like lying,
transfer me or put me on lockup. Bitch you can’t teach me shit, I don’t respect
The screening report reflects that he was notified of the offense on November 19, 2015.
(DE 7-4.) He pled not guilty, and requested a lay advocate. He did not request any witnesses, but
did request the dictionary definition of “threat.” (Id.)
Daniels refused to cooperate in the hearing process and the hearing was conducted
without him on November 23, 2015. (DE 7-6.) Daniels alleged the hearing officer was racist and
biased and requested another hearing officer. That request was denied. After considering the
staff reports, the grievance and the Request for Interview form, the hearing officer found Daniels
guilty of Threatening, in violation of B-213. (Id.) Daniels’s appeals to the facility head and the
final reviewing authority were denied. (DE 7-7; 7-8; 7-9.)
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).
Here, Daniels raises three claims in his petition: (1) the evidence was insufficient; (2) he
was not allowed to participate in the hearing; and (3) he was denied evidence in violation of
First, Daniels claims there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of threatening. In
reviewing a disciplinary determination for sufficiency of the 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).
“[T]he 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). 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 Cir. 1992).
Daniels’s argues that his statements to Cambe do not amount to threatening. 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). It was reasonable for the hearing officer
to conclude that Daniels threatened Cambe. Although Daniels did not explicitly threaten Cambe
with physical violence, the conduct report reveals that Daniels called Cambe a “bitch” and told
Cambe that he should remember his name and his earliest possible release date. This can be
reasonably interpreted as a plan to harm, harass or intimidate Cambe. Thus, 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 Cambe. McPherson,
188 F.3d at 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (conduct report alone provided some evidence to support
disciplinary determination). This conclusion is bolstered by Daniels’ vitriolic statements in the
Request for Interview form. Although Daniels denies that his words were not intended to
threaten Cambe, 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.
Next, Daniels complains that he was not allowed to participate in the hearing. However,
Daniels was given the opportunity to participate at the hearing. But, after insulting the hearing
officer, the hearing officer reasonably determined that Daniels was refusing to cooperate and
held the hearing without him. Thus, Daniels forfeited his right by being disruptive. Criminal
defendants who refuse to behave in an appropriate manner forfeit their right to be present or to
present a defense. Illinois v. Allen, 397 U.S. 337, 345-46 (1970). An offender in a prison
disciplinary proceeding does not receive the full panoply of rights as in a criminal trial. Wolff,
418 U.S. at 556. Daniels’s argumentative and disruptive behavior amounted to a waiver of his
right to be present and provide a statement. See Griffin v. Spratt, 969 F.2d 16, 20 (3d Cir. 1992)
(reasoning that if a certain act is not a due process violation in a criminal proceeding, it follows
that the same act is not a due process violation in a prison disciplinary proceeding). Thus,
Daniels was not denied due process with respect to his opportunity to be present.
Third, Daniels argues that the hearing officer refused his requested evidence, which
denied his due process rights under Policy #02-04-101, which is part of the IDOC Adult
Disciplinary Procedures (“ADP”). As a threshold matter, violations of state law do not entitle
prisoners to habeas corpus relief. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991). The ADP is an
unpromulgated procedure of the DOC, and violations of the ADP do not state a claim for federal
habeas relief. Hester v. McBride, 966 F.Supp. 765, 774-75 (N.D. Ind. 1997).
Moreover, Daniels had the opportunity to request evidence and witnesses before the
hearing. A prisoner has a limited right to call witnesses and present documentary evidence
consistent with correctional goals and safety, but she cannot wait until the hearing to request
such evidence. Sweeney v. Parke, 113 F.3d 716, 719-20 (7th Cir. 1997) (where prisoner had
opportunity to request witnesses when he was notified of the disciplinary hearing and chose not
to, prisoner’s limited right to call witnesses was fulfilled and his due process rights were not
violated), overruled on other grounds by White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 765-66 (7th
Cir. 2001). Thus, he was not denied the opportunity to present evidence or witnesses. Piggie v.
McBride, 277 F.3d 922, 924-25 (7th Cir. 2002). Daniels does not identify what evidence he was
prevented from submitting or how he suffered any prejudice as a result of that unadmitted
evidence. Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 847 (7th Cir. 2011) (a prisoner is only entitled to habeas
relief if the erroneous denial of evidence was harmful and caused actual prejudice). Thus, this is
not a ground for habeas relief either.
For the reasons set forth above, the court DENIES the petition (DE 1) and this case is
ENTERED: April 3, 2017
s/William C. Lee
William C. Lee, Judge
United States District Court
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