JOHNSON v. SUPERINTENDENT
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 in the proceeding which entitles Johnson to the relief he seeks. Accordingly, Johnson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. Copy to Petitioner via U.S. Mail. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 5/18/2017.(JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SUPERINTENDENT New Castle Correctional
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petition of Tracy Johnson for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary
proceeding identified as No. NCF 16-01-0052. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Johnson’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 January 5, 2016, Internal Affairs Officer Williams issued a Report of Conduct charging
Johnson with battery inflicting serious bodily injury in violation of Code A-102. The Report of
The following Conduct Report has been issued to Offender Tracy Johnson IDOC
#906033, on the above date and time; Internal Affairs was notified of an regarding
[sic] an assault, in which Johnson was involved. By reviewing video footage,
Internal Affairs was able to determine Johnson entered C4 and with a closed fist
struck offender Sullivan, R. #203881 in the face causing abrasions and hematomas
on his orbital areas. Johnson admitted during an interview, “I hit him twice in the
face and then kicked him in the ass”. Due to the [ ] severity of the assault and the
facial injuries inflicted Johnson did violate code A-102 (Assault/Battery-Causing
Bodily Injury) of the Adult Disciplinary Policy.
Dkt. 10-1. Johnson was notified of the charge on January 6, 2016, when he was served with the
Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening
Officer noted that Johnson wanted to plead guilty and waived the right to call witnesses and request
evidence. Dkt. 10-2.
The Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on January 7, 2016, during which
Johnson again pled guilty. Dkt. 10-12. The Hearing Officer noted Johnson’s statement, “I hit him
with my hand. These young guys walk all over us.” Id. (capitalization modified). Relying on the
Conduct Report, pictures, offender and witness statement, the Hearing Officer determined that
Johnson had violated Code A-102 (Id.). The sanctions imposed included 45 days of lost
commissary and phone privileges, 6 months of disciplinary segregation, the deprivation of 180
days of earned credit time, and the demotion from credit class I to II. The Hearing Officer imposed
the sanctions because of the seriousness and nature of the offense and the degree to which the
violation disrupted or endangered the security of the facility.
Johnson filed an appeal to the Facility Head on January 7, 2016, arguing that he was found
guilty of Class A Assault/Battery, but should have been found guilty of Class B 212
Assault/Battery because he did not use a weapon during the assault. Dkt. 10-10. The appeal was
denied on January 22, 2016. Johnson then appealed to the Final Reviewing Authority, who reduced
the offense to a B-212 level battery and modified the sanction to three months of disciplinary
segregation and 90 days of lost earned credit time. Dkt. 10-15. The rest of the sanctions remained
Johnson argues that he is entitled to relief because there was insufficient evidence that he
caused serious bodily injury and because the sanctions imposed were too harsh. Johnson’s
custodian responded to these arguments on behalf of the State. No reply was filed.
Johnson’s first ground for relief, that there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of
Class A-102 battery has been considered. 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). No relief is warranted on this basis, however, during the course of
the disciplinary appeal process, the charge was reduced from a Class A-102 battery requiring
serious bodily injury to a Class B-212 battery, which requires only bodily injury. Thus whether
there was sufficient evidence of “serious bodily injury” is no longer at issue. The conduct report,
video, photographs, and Johnson’s guilty plea are “some evidence” that he is guilty of charged
offense which resulted in bodily injury. 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.”).
Johnson’s other claim for relief is that he was sanctioned too severely. Here, the sanctions
as modified included 45 days of lost commissary and phone privileges, 3 months of disciplinary
segregation, the deprivation of 90 days of earned credit time, the demotion from credit class I to
class II. There is no dispute that the sanctions imposed in this case were within the range allowed
by the Indiana Disciplinary Code for Adult Offenders. In addition, there was no constitutional
guarantee that the sanction imposed would be minimal because of Johnson’s past conduct or
because he pled guilty. No relief is warranted on this basis.
“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 Johnson to the relief he seeks.
Accordingly, Johnson’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
NEW CASTLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
1000 Van Nuys Road
NEW CASTLE, IN 47362
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