Ruffin v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER: The petition is DENIED pursuant to Section 2254 Habeas Corpus Rule 4. Signed by Judge Rudy Lozano on 4/19/2016. (lhc)(cc: Ruffin)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:16-CV-203
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the Petition under 28
U.S.C. Paragraph 2254 for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Allen
Ruffin on April 4, 2016. For the reasons set forth below the
petition is DENIED.
Ruffin was found guilty by the Disciplinary Hearing Body (DHB)
at the Miami Correctional Facility of possessing a controlled
substance in violation of B-202 on December 16, 2015. As
of that hearing (MCF 15-11-309), he was deprived of 90 days earned
credit time and demoted to Credit Class 3. In his petition, he
raises three challenges to the finding of guilt.
First, Ruffin argues that he was denied due process because
previously found him guilty in another case. As a threshold matter,
while Ruffin complains that the officer who issued his screening
order was biased, he does not provide any evidence to substantiate
such a claim. Regardless, there was nothing improper about this
An inmate facing disciplinary charges has the right
to an impartial decisionmaker. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 571.
But “the constitutional standard for impermissible bias
is high,” Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir.
2003), and an adjudicator is entitled to a presumption of
“honesty and integrity” absent clear evidence to the
contrary, see Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35, 47, 95 S.
Ct. 1456, 43 L. Ed. 2d 712 (1975). Due process requires
disqualification of a decisionmaker who was directly or
substantially involved in the underlying incident,
Gaither, 236 F.3d at 820, 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 Fed. Appx. 39, 43 (7th Cir. 2009). Just
because an officer who provided Ruffin with the screening report
had found him guilty in an unrelated case does not demonstrate that
the hearing officer was biased in this case. Id. As a result, this
claim cannot provide habeas relief.
Second, Ruffin argues that the substance was never field
substance. Third, Ruffin argues that he did not possess the
substance because it was found in the door track to his cell, which
is accessible to others. Essentially, both of these arguments
challenge the sufficiency of the evidence. In evaluating whether
there is adequate evidence to support the findings of a prison
disciplinary hearing, “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). “The Federal Constitution does not require
evidence that logically precludes any conclusion but the one
reached by the disciplinary board.” Id. at 457.
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.
Id. (quotations marks and citation omitted). Even a conduct report
alone can provide evidence sufficient to support the finding of
guilt. McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999).
Here, the hearing officer relied on Officer Harvey’s Conduct Report
On Friday, November 13, 2015, at approximately 8:15
PM, I Officer N. Harvey was conducting a range check on
the 300 range in A Housing Unit, when I smelled the odor
of something burning in the vicinity of cell 331/332.
Upon approaching the cell, approximately 10 offenders
dispersed from the area. While conducting a cell search
of cell 331/332, I found a green leaf like substance in
a folded piece of paper in the bottom door track. Upon
questioning offender Ruffin, Allen DOC# 149876, assigned
to cell A332, Stated, “my bunkie didn’t have shit to do
with it, so I guess its mine if you gotta write someone
up.” Offender Ruffin was identified by his state
(DE 1-1 at 2.) To satisfy due process, there need only be “some
evidence” in the record to support the disciplinary decision.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455
(1985). “This is a lenient standard, requiring no more than a
modicum of evidence.” Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir.
2000) (citations and quotation marks omitted).
Here, it was not unreasonable for the hearing officer to have
found that Ruffin possessed the substance. Officer Harvey’s eye
witness report that he found a green leafy substance hidden in the
door track to Ruffin’s cell that Ruffin admitted was his is
sufficient. Though Ruffin contends he never admitted that the
Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985) (“Ascertaining
whether this standard is satisfied does not require examination of
the entire record, independent assessment of the credibility of
witnesses, or weighing of the evidence.”). Accordingly, the “some
evidence” standard has been met here.
So too, it was not unreasonable for the hearing officer to
attempting to hide was a controlled or unauthorized substance. This
is true even without a field test being conducted. A substance
which looks like an illegal drug is unlawful, too. Ind. Code § 3548-4-11.5(b). Class B offense 202, which he was charged with,
concerns possession or use of any unauthorized substance. There is
more than sufficient evidence of Ruffin’s guilt in this case.
For the reasons set forth above, the petition is DENIED
pursuant to Section 2254 Habeas Corpus Rule 4.
DATED: April 19, 2016
/s/RUDY LOZANO, Judge
United State District Court
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