Edmonds v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER denying 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Clerk is DIRECTED to close this case. Petitioner is DENIED leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. Signed by Judge Philip P Simon on 10/2/17. (Copy mailed to pro se party). (nal)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:16-CV-485-PPS-MGG
OPINION AND ORDER
Johnny Edmonds, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a habeas corpus petition
challenging a disciplinary hearing (MCF 15-12-52) where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer
(DHO) found him guilty of assault in violation of Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC)
Policy A-102. ECF 1 at 1. As a result, he was sanctioned with the loss of 120 days earned
credit time and was demoted from Credit Class I to Credit Class II.
In Grounds One and Two, Edmonds argues that the DHO had insufficient 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
[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
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks, citations, parenthesis,
and ellipsis omitted).
The Conduct Report charged Edmonds as follows:
On 12/3/2015 at approximately 1247 p.m., I (Sgt Kingery) was handling a
situation on the 3/4 range when I was contacted by my pod officer to step
over to the 1/2 side. when I entered the 1/2 range, I noticed three offenders
engaged in what appeared to be a heated argument. After instructing the
range to lock down, I separated the three offenders and restrained all three,
with assistance from Phase 2 QRT Supervisor and Phase 2 K-9. Edmonds,
Johnny (#984924, KHU-101) was seen on camera, using closed fists,
assaulting an offender with assistance from another offender. The offender
who was assaulted sustained injuries causing him to be admitted to the
Infirmary. Edmonds was escorted to RHU with no further incident.
ECF 11-1. Edmonds was charged and found guilty of violating IDOC A-102. This offense
is defined as, “[c]ommitting battery/assault upon another person with a weapon (including
the throwing of body fluids or waste on another person) or inflicting serious bodily injury.”
Indiana Department of Correction, Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I: Offenses.
The DHO had sufficient evidence to find Edmonds guilty. At the hearing, Edmonds
had the opportunity to make a statement in his defense, and he told the DHO, “I don’t want
to say anything.” ECF 11-7. The DHO found Edmonds guilty based on the Conduct Report,
Edmonds’ statement, and the surveillance footage. The surveillance video shows three
offenders engage in an altercation that occurs mostly outside the viewing area of the
camera. However, one of the offenders can be seen repeatedly punching another offender
with a closed fist. The DHO’s finding was not arbitrary or unreasonable in light of this
Edmonds argues that there was insufficient evidence to supporting a guilty finding
pursuant to A-102 because there was no evidence of serious bodily injury. The IDOC defines
“serious bodily injury” as:
An injury to a person that requires urgent and immediate medical treatment
(normally more extensive than mere first aid, such as bandaging a wound;
but which might include stiches, setting of broken bones, treatment of
concussion, etc.) and/or that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes:
Serious permanent disfigurement;
Permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a
bodily member or organ; or
Loss of a fetus.
___6-1-2015.pdf. Here, the victim was taken to the infirmary and had to be admitted for
treatment. Photographs of the victim’s injuries demonstrate the serious nature of the
swelling and bruising to the victim’s face. ECF 11-2. Thus, the DHO was provided with
sufficient evidence that the victim of this attack sustained serious bodily injury as a result
of the attack.
Edmonds also suggests that the DHO was not impartial because the evidence did not
support the charge. ECF 1 at 3. Prisoners have a due process right to an impartial factfinder. This means, for example, that a prison official who was personally and substantially
involved in the underlying incident may not act as a decision-maker in the case. Piggie v.
Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003). However, Edmonds does not argue that the DHO
was rendered impartial due to some involvement in the underlying incident. Rather, he
suggests the DHO was not impartial because the DHO did not weigh the evidence in his
favor. While Edmonds had a due process right to have the DHO consider his evidence, he
had no right for the DHO to be persuaded by his evidence. It was the exclusive province of
the DHO to weigh the evidence, the credibility of the parties, and to resolve the factual
dispute. This court will not re-weigh the evidence. Webb, 224 F.3d at 652. Because there was
sufficient evidence to support the guilty finding, Grounds One and Two do not identify a
basis for granting habeas corpus relief.
In Ground Three, Edmonds argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because
the DHO violated IDOC policy and sanctioned him with a length of segregated confinement
that exceeded the maximum permitted by IDOC policy. Respondent asserts that Edmonds
is procedurally defaulted on this claim because he did not raise the claim during his
administrative appeals. In habeas corpus proceedings, the exhaustion requirement is
contained in 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b). To properly exhaust his administrative remedies, Edmonds
must have properly utilized the IDOC grievance procedure. See Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d
978, 981-82 (7th Cir. 2002). Respondent is correct that Edmonds did not raise Ground Three
in his administrative appeals. However, a petition for habeas corpus relief may be denied
on the merits, notwithstanding the petitioner’s failure to exhaust. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(2). I
do so here.
Edmonds’ habeas petition is limited to challenging the fact or duration of his
confinement. “Section 2254 is the appropriate remedy only when the prisoner attacks the
fact or duration of ‘custody.’” Sylvester v. Hanks, 140 F.3d 713, 714 (7th Cir. 1998). See also
Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 487, (1995) (distinguishing between a prison disciplinary
sanction that will inevitably affect the duration of the inmate’s sentence and disciplinary
sanctions, such as placement in disciplinary segregation, that do not affect the duration of
his sentence). Because Edmonds’ disciplinary segregation did not affect the fact or duration
of his confinement, he may not challenge the imposition of segregation in this petition.1
Thus, Ground Three does not identify a basis for granting habeas corpus relief.
If Edmonds wants to appeal this decision, 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
I note, however, that Edmonds’ disciplinary segregation was within the maximum
allowable range. Pursuant to IDOC policy, prisoners who violate A-102 may be sanctioned with
as much as a one-year term in segregation. Here, Edmonds received only 30 days.
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 DENIES the habeas corpus petition (ECF 1). The Clerk
is DIRECTED to close this case. Petitioner is DENIED leave to proceed in forma pauperis
ENTERED: October 2, 2017.
_/s Philip P. Simon___________
United States District Court
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?