LAWSON v. SMITH
ENTRY Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus: "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 constitutiona l infirmity in the proceedings. Accordingly, Mr. Lawson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue (see Entry for additional information). Copy to Petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 4/20/2015.(SWM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
) Case No. 1:14-cv-00282-JMS-MJD
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petition of Jeremy Lawson for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary
proceeding identified as No. IYC 13-02-0098. For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr.
Lawson’s habeas petition must be denied.
Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of credit time, Cochran v. Buss, 381 F.3d
637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004), without due process. The due process requirement is satisfied with the
issuance of advance written notice of the charges, a limited opportunity to present evidence to an
impartial decision maker, a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action
and the evidence justifying it, and “some evidence in the record” to support the finding of guilt.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S.
539, 570-71 (1974); Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224
F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).
B. The Disciplinary Proceeding
On February 8, 2013, Corrections Officer S. Willever wrote a Report of Conduct in case
IYC 13-03-098 charging Mr. Lawson with engaging in an unauthorized financial transaction. The
conduct report states:
On February 8, 2013[,] at approximately 11:41 p.m.; (sic) while monitoring PCS
offender phone service, I Officer S. Willever did clearly hear Lawson, Jeremy
D.O.C. # 163040 read off a 14 digit # associated with a financial transaction to his
mother (Diana Lawson). Phone # (317) 586-5120[.] This occurred 4 min. 26 sec.
into the call.
[Filing No. 17-1].
On February 9, 2013, Mr. Lawson was notified of the charge and was given a copy of the
conduct report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing “Screening Report.” He was notified of his
rights and pled not guilty. He requested a lay advocate and did not request a witness. Mr. Lawson
did not request any physical evidence. [Filing No. 17-2].
The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in case IYC 13-03-098 on February
11, 2013, and found Mr. Lawson guilty of the charge of engaging in an unauthorized financial
transaction. In making this determination the hearing officer considered the staff reports and the
offender’s statement. Based on the hearing officer’s recommendations the following sanctions
were imposed: a seven (7) day loss of phone privileges, and a thirty (30) day deprivation of earned
credit time. The hearing officer recommended the sanctions because of the likelihood of the
sanction having a corrective effect on the offender’s future behavior. [Filing No. 17-4].
Mr. Lawson appealed the disciplinary proceeding through the administrative process. His
appeals were denied. He now seeks relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 arguing that his due process
rights were violated.
Mr. Lawson is not entitled to habeas relief because he was afforded due process. He asserts
the following claims: 1) there were violations of the Indiana Department of Correction’s Adult
Disciplinary Code; and 2) he was denied evidence.
In ground one of the petition, Mr. Lawson’s first claim is based upon the rules and
procedures of the Indiana Department of Correction. Relief is not available for that claim in this
action because habeas corpus relief cannot be based upon a violation of state law. Estelle v.
McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 at n. 2 (1991) (“state-law violations provide no basis for federal habeas
review.”); Hester v. McBride, 966 F.Supp. 765, 774–75 (N.D.Ind.1997) (violations of the Indiana
Adult Disciplinary Policy Procedures do not state a claim for federal habeas relief); Keller v.
Donahue, 2008 WL 822255, 271 Fed.Appx. 531, 532 (7th Cir. Mar. 27, 2008) (an inmate “has no
cognizable claim arising from the prison's application of its regulations.”).
Mr. Lawson also disputes that the Adult Disciplinary Code’s definition for unauthorized
financial transaction accurately describes the exchange of a 14-digit Green Dot number. [Filing
No. 1, at ECF p. 3-4]. He asserts that the more accurate charge was possession of money/currency
because “the fourteen (14) digit number referred to as a greendot number on the conduct report is
money/currency, due to the fact that the fourteen (14) digit number retains a prepaid value of
money.” [Filing No. 1, at ECF p. 3]. Mr. Lawson’s theory ignores the fact that the 14 digit number,
which represents a certain sum of money, enables a user to complete a financial transaction. Thus,
Mr. Lawson was properly charged with engaging in an unauthorized financial transaction when he
provided his mother with a 14 digit Green Dot number.
To the extent Mr. Lawson’s claim can be understood as attacking the sufficiency of the
evidence, the evidence was sufficient to support a guilty finding. According to the conduct report,
which is sufficient evidence because a conduct report alone may suffice as “some evidence.” Webb
v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000) (even “meager” proof is sufficient), Mr. Lawson
was heard on the telephone with his mother as he read a 14 digit number to her. A 14-digit number
or code corresponds with numbers on a Green Dot or similar prepaid debit card that represents a
sum of money that can be used similarly to a credit or debit card. Unfortunately, the record in this
matter fails to include any explanation as to what a 14 digit Green Dot number is. However, 1:14cv-251, Lawson v. Servier, and 1:14-cv-281, Lawson v. Superintendent, involved the same
petitioner, the same hearing officer (see 1:14-cv-251), the same disciplinary charge, and a similar
sets of facts. Moreover, these other two cases included an affidavit from the reporting officer
explaining what a 14 digit Green Dot number is, and why it is prohibited by the Indiana Department
of Correction. The Court may takes judicial notice of the record in the other matters particularly
those involving the same petitioner. As such, the evidence here was constitutionally sufficient to
support a finding that Mr. Lawson was guilty of engaging in an unauthorized financial transaction.
In ground two of the petition, Mr. Lawson again alleges his was deprived of his due process
when the hearing officer failed to follow the policies set forth Adult Disciplinary Code and provide
him with the telephone call recording as evidence. Offenders have limited procedural rights during
a prison disciplinary proceeding. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 563-567. Moreover, a violation of the Adult
Disciplinary Code is a state law claim and not available for habeas relief. Hester, 966 F.Supp. at
774-75. Mr. Lawson did not request any evidence when he signed the screening report, [Filing No.
17-2], and is not entitled to relief on these grounds
Finally, in grounds three and four of the petition, Mr. Lawson claims the disciplinary
hearing officer stacked five charges against him, and the Final Reviewing Authority failed to
remedy this error. However, he has not provided any credible evidence, such as conduct reports,
to this Court to show that the reports of conduct in case numbers IYC 13-02-097 and IYC 13-02098 are based on the same incident. And Mr. Lawson admits that any of the duplicate reports of
conduct were dismissed by the Final Reviewing Authority. Mr. Lawson is not entitled to relief.
“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 proceedings. Accordingly, Mr. Lawson’s petition for a writ
of habeas corpus must be denied. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Jeremy Lawson, #163040
Miami Correctional Facility
3038 West 850 South
Bunker Hill, Indiana 46914
Electronically registered counsel
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