Arrington v. Superintendent
OPINION AND ORDER: DENYING 1 Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment and close this case. Leroy Arrington is DENIEDleave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. Signed by Judge Robert L Miller, Jr on 10/23/2017. (Copy mailed to pro se party)(lhc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:17-CV-296-RLM-MGG
OPINION AND ORDER
Leroy Arrington, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a petition under 28
U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his prison disciplinary hearing in MCF 16-04-560
where a Disciplinary Hearing Officer found him guilty of assault/battery in
violation of Indiana Department of Correction policy B-212. He was sanctioned
with the loss of 30 days earned credit time.
In Grounds One and Two, Mr. Arrington argues that he is entitled to habeas
corpus relief because the hearing officer didn’t 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, 455-456 (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 F.3d 787, 786 (7th Cir. 1999).
[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 decision.
Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000) (quotation marks, citations,
parenthesis, and ellipsis omitted).
The Conduct Report charged Mr. Arrington as follows:
On 04-26-2016 at approximately 1500 I Officer J. Rhodes observed
offenders Gorman, Anthony Doc#220293 (KHU Cell -450) and
Arrington, Leroy Doc#218916 (KHU Cell-444) having an argument in
front of KHU Cell 445/446. While continuing my observation I seen
(sic) offender Gorman, Anthony run towards KHU Cell-450 with
offender Arrington, Leroy chasing after him. The argument continued
in front of KHU Cell-449/450. After a few seconds passed offender
Gorman, Anthony and offender Arrington, Leroy stepped into KHU
Cell- 449/450. Offender Bass, Jamar Doc# 137526 was already in
the cell before offender Arrington and offender Gorman entered. All
three offenders began arguing. I then observed punches being thrown
between offender Arrington, Leroy and offender Gorman, Anthony. I
radioed a 10-10 for the KHU 3/4 side. Offender Arrington, Leroy then
exited the cell and ran to the door of his cell, KHU Cell-444.
Mr. Arrington was subsequently charged and found guilty of violating
Department of Correction B-212. This offense is defined as “[c]ommitting a
battery/assault upon another person without a weapon or inflicting bodily injury.”
Adult Disciplinary Process, Appendix I.
The hearing officer had sufficient evidence to find Mr. Arrington guilty. A
conduct report alone can be sufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt.
McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d at 786. The conduct report in this case contained
the reporting officer’s first-hand observations. The reporting officer saw Mr.
Arrington argue with another prisoner, chase the prisoner into his cell, and
exchange punches with that prisoner. These observations sufficiently support the
hearing officer’s finding of guilt.
Mr. Arrington argues that the hearing officer shouldn’t have found the
conduct report credible in light of the witness statements he presented from the
two other prisoners involved in the altercation. He also argues that the reporting
officer couldn’t have had a clear view into the cell from where she stood, and
couldn’t have seen what she claimed to have seen. It was the exclusive province
of the hearing officer to weigh the respective credibility of the witnesses and this
court can’t reconsider or re-weigh that evidence. See Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d
at 653. In light of the evidence contained in the conduct report, it was neither
unreasonable nor arbitrary for the hearing officer to reject Mr. Arrington’s version
Mr. Arrington also contends that he shouldn’t have been found guilty of
violating B-212 because there was no evidence that the other offender sustained
a physical injury. The respondent doesn’t dispute this point and the incident
report confirms that there were no physical injuries. But B-212 is explicitly
defined as an assault/battery that does not result in physical injury. The hearing
officer had sufficient evidence to find Mr. Arrington guilty. Thus, grounds one and
two don’t serve as a basis for granting habeas corpus relief.
In Ground Three,1 Mr. Arrington argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus
relief because he was denied 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 would, for example,
prohibit a prison official who was personally and substantially involved in the
underlying incident from acting as a decision-maker in the case. Id. In contrast,
due process isn’t violated simply because the hearing officer knew the inmate or
presided over one of the prisoner’s other disciplinary cases. Id.
Mr. Arrington hasn’t met the high standard necessary to establish bias. He
argues that the hearing officer showed bias when she told him during the hearing,
“it is my job to find you guilty, and your job to appeal it.” This statement, alone,
Mr. Arrington appears to have inadvertently mislabeled this claim “Ground Two,” though
it is his third claim.
isn’t sufficient to establish that the hearing officer was inappropriately
predisposed to find Mr. Arrington guilty. Rather, in the absence of any other
evidence of bias, the hearing officer’s comment was merely a statement that it was
her job to find him guilty because he was guilty, and an explanation of Mr.
Arrington’s future options. Because there is insufficient evidence to establish bias,
Ground Three doesn’t identify a basis for habeas corpus relief.
If Mr. Arrington wants to appeal this decision, he doesn’t 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 appeal because the court finds pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that an appeal in this case could not be taken in good faith.
For these reasons, the habeas corpus petition (ECF 1) is DENIED. The clerk
is DIRECTED to enter judgment and close this case. Leroy Arrington is DENIED
leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.
ENTERED: October 23 , 2017
/s/ Robert L. Miller, Jr.
United States District Court
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