Youngblood v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER granting 7 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The Respondent is ORDERED to file documentation by 11/20/2017 showing that the guilty finding in STP 16-08-160 has been vacated and that any earned credit time or demotion in credit class that Youngblood lost as a result of this guilty finding is restored. Signed by Judge Philip P Simon on 10/24/17. (ksp)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
LEO D. YOUNGBLOOD,
CAUSE NO. 3:17CV39-PPS/MGG
OPINION AND ORDER
Leo Youngblood, a pro se prisoner, filed an amended habeas corpus petition
challenging a disciplinary hearing where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer found him
guilty of use of a controlled substance in violation of Indiana Department of Correction
Policy B-202 which prohibits the “[p]ossession or use of any unauthorized substance
controlled pursuant to the laws of the State of Indiana or the United States Code or
possession of drug paraphernalia.” Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I: Offenses.
Indiana law prohibits possession of any synthetic drug. Ind. Code § 35-48-4-11.5.
Youngblood’s guilty finding led to a loss of 90 days earned credit time, and he was
demoted from Credit Class I to Credit Class II.
Youngblood identifies one ground which entitles him to habeas corpus relief. He
argues that the hearing officer did not have sufficient 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). Admittedly, this is a modest standard. It requires no
more than “a modicum of evidence.” Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).
Indeed, “[e]ven meager proof will suffice . . . “ Id. But there has to be evidence not
speculation or guesswork.
So what was the evidence that Youngblood was using drugs? It was thin to
nonexistent. Let’s start with what the conduct report had to say. Here it is in its entirety:
On 8/17/16 at approximately 5:30 p.m.; Offender Leo Youngblood,
IDOC# 921819, was involved in a medical emergency. Medical staff noted
Youngblood presented with symptoms similar to other offenders who
tested positive for the use of synthetic marijuana, commonly known as K2
or spice. Youngblood had seizure like activity and respiratory issues. Due
to the K2 testing being unavailability (sic) during the metabolic time frame
K2, the offender was not tested for K2.
ECF 15-1. The Health Services Administrator also provided a statement regarding this
incident: “The above listed offenders all had OD symptoms related to a K2 spice
overdose. All had seizure like activity, and respiratory issues. These symptoms have
been displayed in other offenders in the past that had a K2 spice overdose.” ECF 15-2.
In essence, the only evidence that Youngblood was using K2 was observations
that Youngblood had symptoms consistent with K2 use. That strikes me as weak. And
it’s especially weak when one considers the fact that there was actual evidence to the
contrary. Youngblood attached medical records from the hospital where he was sent for
treatment.1 These records demonstrate that he submitted blood and urine tests, and that
these tests were negative for many common controlled substances. ECF 1-2.
Youngblood argues that this evidence refutes the charge that he was under the
influence. In light of this medical evidence, it was incumbent on Respondent to address
the negative test results, and explain why the hearing officer’s determination was
nevertheless supported by sufficient evidence. Rather than addressing this issue headon, Respondent argues that Youngblood was not entitled to laboratory testing.
Respondent asserts, “a drug test was not conducted, and was not required.” ECF 15 at 6.
This is a half-truth. While it is true that prisoners facing prison discipline do not have a
right to the creation of evidence,2 that is not the issue in this case, where testing was in
fact conducted. While the prison did not do a drug test, the hospital that treated
Youngblood did. In light of the negative drug test results, Respondent needed to explain
why the hearing officer’s decision was not arbitrary.
In the order to show cause, Respondent was ordered to produce the full and
complete administrative record. ECF 8. Thus, all evidence relevant to this matter has
been filed. Yet, it falls short of even the low threshold required in prison disciplinary
While there is a discrepancy between the date on the hospital records (August 16, 2016)
and the date of the incident on the Conduct Report (August 17, 2016), this appears to be
attributable to a mistake on the Conduct Report. Respondent does not contest that the hospital
records pertain to the incident described in the Conduct Report.
See Freitas v. Auger, 837 F.2d 806, 812 n.13 (8th Cir. 1988) (“Freitas was not entitled to a
polygraph examination . . .”); Rhatigan v. Ward, 187 Fed. Appx. 889, 890-891 (10th Cir. 2006); and
Arthur v. Ayers, 43 Fed. Appx. 56, 57 (9th Cir. 2002) (inmates not entitled to laboratory testing of
cases. While there need not have been overwhelming evidence that Youngblood was
guilty, the hearing officer’s determination must have been supported by some evidence.
This standard was not met in this case, and thus Youngblood is entitled to habeas corpus
Leo D. Youngblood’s habeas corpus petition is GRANTED. The Respondent is
ORDERED to file documentation by November 20, 2017, showing that the guilty finding
in STP 16-08-160 has been vacated and that any earned credit time or demotion in credit
class that Youngblood lost as a result of this guilty finding is restored.
ENTERED: October 24, 2017.
/s/ Philip P. Simon
United States District Court
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