BEALS v. BUTTS
ENTRY - For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Kyle Beals ("Beals") for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied. Accordingly, his petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 2/12/2013. (copy to Petitioner via US Mail) (JKS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of Kyle Beals (ABeals@) for a
writ of habeas corpus must be denied.
In a disciplinary proceeding identified as No. MCF 12-05-0134, Beals was
found guilty of violating a prison rule which prohibits inmates from stalking. The
evidence favorable to the hearing officer=s decision as set forth in the conduct report
is that “within [Beals’] address book were three different items containing
professional and personal information on Pen Products Manager (Sandra Roark).
The items were obtained without permission and constituted repeated actions by
Offender Beals that resulted in Ms. Roark feeling frightened, threatened and
concerned for her safety.”
Contending that the proceeding was constitutionally infirm, Beals now seeks
a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 2254(a). His claims are that: 1) he
was denied a fair hearing before an impartial decision maker; 2) he did not receive
24 hours advanced notice of the hearing; 3) he was denied the opportunity to
present evidence; 4) he was denied a copy of the findings of fact to support the
finding of guilt; 5) he was denied an impartial hearing appeal and a copy of the
finding of facts on appeal; and 6) he was housed too long in disciplinary segregation.
Beals’ custodian opposes issuance of the writ which is sought, and Beals has
A federal court may issue a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to ' 2254(a) only
if it finds the applicant Ais in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or
treaties of the United States.@ Id. When a prison disciplinary proceeding results in a
sanction which affects the expected duration of a prisoner=s confinement through
the deprivation of earned good-time credits, the state may not deprive the inmate of
good-time credits without ensuring that the credits are not arbitrarily rescinded
and habeas corpus is the proper remedy. Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th
"Prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal prosecution, and
the full panoply of rights due a defendant in such proceedings does not apply." Wolff
v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). In these circumstances, Beals was entitled
to the following process before being deprived of his liberty interests: (1) advance (at
least 24 hours before hearing) written notice of the claimed violation; (2) the
opportunity to be heard before an impartial decision maker; (3) the opportunity to
call witnesses and present documentary evidence (when consistent with
institutional safety); and (4) a written statement by the fact-finder of the evidence
relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action. Rasheed-Bey v. Duckworth, 969
F.2d 357, 361 (7th Cir. 1992). In addition, there is a substantive component to the
issue, which requires that the decision of a conduct board be supported by "some
evidence." Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445 (1985).
Under Wolff and Hill, Beals received all the process to which he was entitled.
That is, the charge was clear, adequate notice was given, and the evidence was
sufficient. In addition, (1) Beals was given the opportunity to appear before the
conduct board and make a statement concerning the charge, (2) the conduct board
issued a sufficient statement of its findings, and (3) the conduct board issued a
written reason for its decision and for the sanctions which were imposed. Beals=
claims otherwise are unavailing here.
Beals’ contention that he was denied an impartial decision maker
because the hearing officer presided over another disciplinary matter involving
Beals and because he exited the hearing room to confer with the officer is not
supported by a showing that any member of the conduct board had a direct
personal or otherwise substantial involvement in the circumstances underlying
the charges. Redding v. Fairman, 717 F.2d 1105, 1113 (7th Cir. 1983) (citing
Rhodes v. Robinson, 612 F.2d 766, 773 (3rd Cir. 1979)). A conduct board that
follows established procedures, whose discretion is circumscribed by regulations,
and which adheres to Wolff's procedural requirements, does not pose a hazard of
arbitrariness violative of due process. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 571. Those procedures
were followed in this case. See McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 787 (7th
Cir. 1999)(Aas long as procedural protections are constitutionally adequate, we
will not overturn a disciplinary decision solely because evidence indicates the
claim was fraudulent.@). Beals’ claim that he was denied an impartial decisionmaker is without merit.
Beals claims that he was denied 24-hour advanced notice of his
disciplinary hearing. Beals received written notice of the charges at least 24
hours in advance of the hearing; he received a copy of the conduct report on May
16, 2012, and the hearing was held on May 30, 2012.
Beals claims that he was not afforded the right to present
documentary evidence because items he submitted at his hearing were accepted
by the hearing officer but were not considered. The state statute submitted by
Beals was not new or exculpatory as it was this statute upon which the stalking
charge was based. This statute would not have refuted the allegations set forth
in the conduct report. In addition, the year old work evaluation completed by
Sandra Roark and which portrays Beals in a positive light does not refute the
fact that Beals secured Roark’s personal information without Roark’s
permission. Even if these items were not considered, no due process violation
occurs when the requested evidence is denied, but would have been irrelevant,
repetitive, or unnecessary. Forbes v. Trigg, 976 F.2d 308, 316 (7th Cir. 1992).
Beals claims that he was denied a copy of the findings of fact
following the disciplinary hearing because the report did not contain detailed
findings. Beals makes the same claim as to the denial of his appeal. The due
process requirement that there be a written record does not Aimply that a
disciplinary board's factual findings or decisions with respect to appropriate
punishment are subject to second-guessing upon review.@ Hill, 472 U.S. at 455.
Furthermore, Beals alleges that under Department of Correction policy the
hearing should have been audio recorded. However, this claim is
inconsequential, constitutionally speaking, because it rests on asserted
violations of prison policies and procedures. Evans v. McBride, 94 F.3d 1062 (7th
Cir. 1996); Colon v. Schneider, 899 F.2d 660, 672-73 (7th Cir. 1990); see also Del
Vecchio v. Illinois Dept. of Corrections, 31 F.3d 1363, 1370 (7th Cir. 1994)
(habeas corpus jurisdiction is limited to evaluating alleged violations of federal
statutory or constitutional law), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 983 (1995).
Beals’ claim that he remained in segregation for an excessive period
of time is not a proper challenge here. Woodson v. Lack, 865 F.2d 107, 109 (6th
Cir. 1989)(pre-hearing segregation is not unlawful).
"The touchstone of due process is protection of the individual against arbitrary
action of the government." Wolff, 418 U.S. at 558. There was no arbitrary action in
any aspect of the charge, disciplinary proceedings, or sanctions involved in the
events identified in this action, and there was no constitutional infirmity in the
proceeding which entitles Beals to the relief he seeks. Accordingly, his petition for a
writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment
consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Pendleton Correctional Facility
4490 West Reformatory Rd.
Pendleton, IN 46064
Electronically Registered Counsel of Record
Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
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