BOWLING v. SUPERINTENDANT
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus - 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 i n the proceeding which entitles Bowling to the relief he seeks. Accordingly, Bowling'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.) Copy to Petitioner via U.S. Mail. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 4/28/2017.(JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
STEVEN B. BOWLING,
SUPERINTENDANT Plainfield Correctional
Case No. 1:16-cv-00066-TWP-MJD
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petition of Steven B. Bowling for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison
disciplinary proceeding identified as No. IYC15-04-0131, in which he was found guilty of
possession of a controlled substance. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Bowling’s habeas
petition must be denied.
Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits, Cochran v. Buss,
381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004) (per curiam), 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); 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 April 7, 2015, Sergeant Z. Williams wrote a Report of Conduct that charged Bowling
with violating offense 202-B, Possession of a Controlled Substance. The Conduct Report states:
On 4-7-2015 at approximately 5:58 PM I, Sergeant Z. Williams, was walking
toward the south split just in front of South Dorm when I observed a blue piece of
folded up commissary paper fall out of a glove on to the walk. Offender Bowling,
Steven #113869 (G1-8L) was holding the glove when I observed the commissary
paper fall onto the ground. No other offenders were in the area at the camera time.
I immediately secured the piece of paper in my left pocket and advised Offender
Bowling to hand me his gloves. I then searched both pair of gloves discovering no
further contraband [“Jolly Rancher” is written over “no further contraband”]. I then
opened the piece of blue commissary paper and located inside was a grayish white
powdery substance. Offender Bowling was questioned about the grayish white
substance and said, “Williams I just picked that up off the walk in front of the
school.” “I didn’t even know what it was.” Offender Bowling was then advised that
he would be receiving a Report of Conduct
Dkt. 1-1, p. 1 (Exhibit A). A picture was taken of the Evidence Record, commissary paper, and
drug test result showing the substance tested positive for amphetamines. See dkt. 8-2 at p.1. The
test is a NIK® test (see http://www.alternateforce.net/nik-drug-test-kit.html).
On April 8, 2015, Bowling was notified of the charge of Possession or Use of a Controlled
Substance when he was served with the Conduct Report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing.
Bowling was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He requested a lay advocate and listed
three offenders he wanted to call as witnesses. The part of the form where Bowling requested
physical evidence is hard to read, but it appears he wanted video review and drug test results.
Offender Derek Linville provided a written statement that said “as I was walking back to
the dorm from chow I saw Sgt. Williams take a piece of candy out of offender Bowling’s gloves”.
Dkt. 8-4. Offender Zachary Gootee’s written statement states, “I was coming back from chow
towards Central turned left at the South dorm [unintelligible] Sgt. Williams ask [unintelligible] for
his glove, he shook the glove and out and a piece of candy or something fell out.” Dkt. 8-5.
Offender Derrick Walker’s written statement said that he, Walker, was the one who had possession
of the controlled substance, Bowling had nothing to do with it, but just dropped it. Dkt. 8-6.
The hearing officer reviewed the requested video and wrote a summary that said the
incident did not appear on the video and may have taken place out of the view of the camera. In
addition there was not another camera to be reviewed in the area. Dkt. 8-7.
The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in IYC15-04-0131 on April 29, 2015.
Bowling’s comment was “Not Guilty – Sgt. Williams is mistaken. I do carry candy in my gloves.
I’m a wheelchair pusher, I don’t use drugs. There were other offenders present. Another offender
stopped me a few days later and said that the ‘stuff’ was actually his” Dkt. 8-8. The hearing officer
found Bowling guilty of class B offense 202, Possession or Use of Controlled Substance “DHO
reviewed all evidence, conduct report, video review, NIK test, photos, C.F., offender’s statement
and his requested witness statements and found Bowling 113869 guilty of a 202B.” Dkt. 8-8.
“C.F.” may have referred to the commissary forms.
The hearing officer recommended and approved the following sanctions: restitution of
$5.00 for the NIK test, 90-day deprivation of earned credit time, and a demotion from Credit Class
1 to Credit Class 2, suspended.
Bowling appealed to the Facility Head on May 11, 2015. The Facility Head denied the
appeal on May 22, 2015. Bowling appealed to the Final Reviewing Authority, who denied his
appeal by letter dated August 13, 2015.
Bowling brings a petition for habeas relief on the grounds that 1) it is false that he had
grayish powdery substance in his possession; 2) Sgt. Williams admits he found the substance on
the ground and Offender Derrick Walker has claimed ownership of the substance; 3) he never had
possession of said controlled substance. Taken together, these grounds challenge whether “some
evidence” supported the disciplinary conviction.
In other words, Bowling challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. The “some evidence”
evidentiary standard in this type of case is much more lenient than “beyond a reasonable doubt”
or even “by a preponderance.” See Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002) (hearing
officer in prison disciplinary case “need not show culpability beyond a reasonable doubt or credit
exculpatory evidence.”). Bowling’s assertion that any other standard should be applied is rejected.
The “some evidence” standard is lenient, “requiring only that the decision not be arbitrary
or without support in the record.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999). A
rational adjudicator could readily conclude from the content and surrounding circumstances of the
conduct report, video review, NIK test, and photos that Bowling was guilty of possession of a
controlled substance. Even if Offender Derrick Walker’s did drop the paper and controlled
substance, the evidence shows that Sergeant Williams saw commissary paper fall out of a glove
that Bowling was holding. Offender Walker stated that he was the owner of the controlled
substance, but the charge was possession, not ownership, of a controlled substance. Accordingly,
“some evidence” supported the conviction for possession of a controlled substance. Henderson v.
United States Parole Comm'n, 13 F.3d 1073, 1077 (7th Cir. 1993) (a federal habeas court “will
overturn the . . . [conduct board’s] decision only if no reasonable adjudicator could have found . .
. [the petitioner] guilty of the offense on the basis of the evidence presented”), cert. denied, 115 S.
Ct. 314 (1994); see also Hill, 472 U.S. at 457 (“The Federal Constitution does not require evidence
that logically precludes any conclusion but the one reached by the disciplinary board.”).
“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 Bowling to the relief he seeks.
Accordingly, Bowling’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action
Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
All Electronically Registered Counsel
STEVEN B. BOWLING
WESTVILLE - CF
WESTVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
5501 South 1100 West
WESTVILLE, IN 46391
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