HARLOW v. SUPERINTENDENT
ENTRY Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus: Accordingly, Mr. Harlow's petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue ***SEE ENTRY FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION***. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 5/17/2016. Copy sent via US Mail.(DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SUPERINTENDENT, New Castle Corr. Fac.,
Case No. 1:15-cv-00620-WTL-MJD
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petition of Isaiah Harlow (“Mr. Harlow”) for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a
prison disciplinary proceeding, NCF 15-02-0069, in which he was found guilty of trafficking.
For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. Harlow’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), or of credit-earning class, Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641,
644-45 (7th Cir. 2001), 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); Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011); Piggie v. Cotton,
344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).
II. The Disciplinary Proceeding
The underlying incident and disciplinary proceeding occurred while Mr. Harlow was
incarcerated at the New Castle Correctional Facility. On February 10, 2015, Internal Affairs
Investigator Robert Walling wrote a Report of Conduct in case NCF 15-02-0069, charging Mr.
Harlow with offense A-113, trafficking. The conduct report states:
The following conduct report has been issued to offender Isaiah Harlow #102274
for violation of Adult Disciplinary Code Class A-113 (trafficking). An
investigation was conducted from 1/6/15 through 2/10/15, [i]nvolving Harlow and
an officer trafficking tobacco. The officer in question admitted to bringing in
tobacco to Harlow. Also, there was a Confidential Informant that knew about the
officer and Harlow trafficking with one another. Based on the results of the
investigation through Officers statement, Confidential Informant and the analysis
of the evidence, the following is indicated: Isaiah Harlow did violate code A-113
Trafficking of the Adult Disciplinary Policy.
“A confidential informant has provided information in this case resulting in the
conclusion that the above identified offender is guilty of the above-charged
offense. I swear and affirm under the penalties for perjury that I have knowledge
of the confidential informant, and that I believe the information provided to me in
this case by the confidential informant is reliable and true.” Offender Harlow was
told he would be issued conduct for trafficking by this writer on 2/6/15, upon
conclusion of the investigation.
On February 16, 2015, Mr. Harlow was notified of the charge of trafficking and served
with a copy of the conduct report and a copy of the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing “Screening
Report.” Mr. Harlow was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He requested the
appointment of a lay advocate, and one was later appointed. Mr. Harlow did not request any
witnesses, but he did request as physical evidence the time and date of the incident, review of
any camera footage, and copies of all available statements. Additionally, on February 16, 2015,
Mr. Harlow wrote a letter to Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”) Thompson requesting
additional information regarding the charge, such as when he was alleged to have trafficked and
the type and quantity of tobacco he received.
After a postponement, DHO Thompson held a disciplinary hearing in case NCF 15-020069 on February 24, 2015. Mr. Harlow pleaded not guilty and provided the following
statement: “I don’t know when the incident took place. I did not traffick with the officer.” With
regard to the requested physical evidence, the DHO indicated that there was no camera footage
and that the statements were confidential.
The DHO found Mr. Harlow guilty of trafficking. In making this determination, the DHO
considered staff reports, evidence from witnesses, Mr. Harlow’s statement, the summary of the
investigation, and a confidential email about confidential informants. The DHO stated his reason
for the decision: “Investigator R. Walling was at the hearing and did verbally answer the
questions, and did verify the informant to be reliable and true. Based on the Cond. Report,
evidence, offender and witness statements. Investigator Walling stated answers to the questions
were confidential.” Dkt. 12-6. Due to the seriousness and nature of the offense and the degree to
which the misconduct disrupted the security of the facility, the DHO imposed the following
sanctions: time served in disciplinary segregation, 45 days’ lost phone and commissary
privileges, 180 days’ lost good-time credit, and a demotion from credit class II to credit class III.
Mr. Harlow’s appeals were denied. This habeas action followed.
Mr. Harlow alleges that his due process rights were violated during the disciplinary
proceeding. Mr. Harlow’s claims are: (1) he was not given adequate notice of the date when he
allegedly committed the offense, in violation of the Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders,
Indiana Department of Correction Policy & Administrative Procedures No. 02-04-101 (“IDOC
Policy”); (2) he was not given the evidence that he requested so that he could properly prepare
his defense, in violation of IDOC Policy; and (3) the questions he submitted to Investigator
Walling were not properly answered, in violation of IDOC Policy.
A prisoner has a right to notice of the charges against him “in order to inform him of the
charges and to enable him to marshal the facts and prepare a defense.” Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564.
“The notice should inform the inmate of the rule allegedly violated and summarize the facts
underlying the charge.” Northern v. Hanks, 326 F.3d 909, 910 (7th Cir. 2003) (citing Whitford v.
Boglino, 63 F.3d 527, 534 (7th Cir. 1995)). “The notice requirement permits the accused to
gather the relevant facts and prepare a defense.” Id.
The officer who trafficked with Mr. Harlow did not know the date he brought in tobacco
to the prison. The conduct report informed Mr. Harlow that the officer admitted bringing in
tobacco to Mr. Harlow and that a confidential informant knew about the officer and Mr. Harlow
trafficking. Although no specific date was provided, there was sufficient notice for Mr. Harlow
to defend the charge against him. Even if the notice was insufficient, Mr. Harlow has shown no
prejudice from the alleged insufficiency. See Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 846-47 (7th Cir.
2011) (absent prejudice, any alleged due process error is harmless error).
Mr. Harlow’s second claim is that the DHO failed to provide him with a detailed
summary of the confidential statements and any camera footage. There was no camera footage,
so that portion of the claim is meritless. His third claim is that questions that he presented to the
investigator prior to the hearing were not answered. Rather, at the hearing the investigator merely
stated that all of Mr. Harlow’s questions asked for confidential information.
“[P]rocedural due process require[s] prison officials to disclose all material exculpatory
evidence” to the petitioner in a disciplinary case. Jones, 637 F.3d at 847. “There is an exception,
however, to the disclosure of material, exculpatory evidence that would unduly threaten
institutional concerns.” Id. (internal quotation omitted). In cases that rely on a confidential
informant, courts require some indication that the confidential informant was reliable.
The Court has reviewed the Report of Investigation. It contains no evidence that would
be exculpatory in relation to Mr. Harlow’s disciplinary charge. In addition, to reveal information
contained in the Report of Investigation in more detail would threaten prison security concerns.
In this case, the investigating officer appeared at the disciplinary hearing and testified that
the confidential informant was reliable. This indication of the reliability of the confidential
informant comports with the requirements set forth by the Seventh Circuit in Mendoza v. Miller,
779 F.2d 1287, 1293 (7th Cir. 1985) (“Balanced against the government interest in protecting
confidential informants and maintaining prison security is the prisoner’s interest in a disciplinary
hearing that is, [n]ot so lacking in procedural safeguards that they create substantial doubt that
these prisoners committed the offenses for which they were disciplined.”) (internal quotation
There was no due process error in refusing to provide non-exculpatory and
confidential information to Mr. Harlow.
Mr. Harlow’s claims also fail because they raise issues issue based on IDOC Policy,
which is not subject to federal habeas review. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 68 at n.2 (1991)
(“state-law violations provide no basis for federal habeas review.”); 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”); 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). The claims based on IDOC Policy fail to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.
Mr. Harlow was given notice and had an opportunity to defend the charge. The DHO
provided a written statement of the reasons for the finding of guilt and described the evidence
that was considered. There was sufficient evidence in the record to support the finding of guilt.
Under these circumstances, there were no violations of Mr. Harlow’s due process rights.
“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. Harlow’s 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.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
ISAIAH HARLOW #102274
Miami Correctional Facility
3038 West 850 South
Bunker Hill, IN 46914
Electronically registered counsel
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