BOWLING v. INDIANA STATE PRISON
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. ISP 07-07-0210 in which he was convicted of Code A-102, Battery. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Bowling's habeas petition must be denied. See Entry. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. Copy to Petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 6/30/2017.(SWM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
STEVEN B. BOWLING,
Case No. 1:16-cv-00853-TWP-MPB
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. ISP 07-07-0210 in which he was convicted of Code A102, Battery. 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 July 12, 2007, Internal Affairs Officer Whelan issued a Report of Conduct charging
Bowling with battery in violation of Code A-102 (Ex. A). The Report of Conduct states:
On 6/12/07 offender Stone 914538 was severely beaten causing ISP [Indiana State
Prison] to send the offender to an outside medical facility. He had severely [sic]
dozen stab wounds to his hands, body and legs. He also had severe contusions to
his body and face. The offender also had a flammable chemical tossed on hi[m] in
his cell that was identified as a chemical used in the Tag Shop.
A[n] investigation was begun and through the interviews and evidence there is
enough information to charge the above offender with assaulting offender Stone
causing injury [us]ing a weapon.
See report of investigation.
Dkt. 13-1 at 1. The Report of Investigation of Incident states in part:
On 6/12/07 a signal 3000 was called by Sgt. C. Tibbles due to finding offender
Stone 914538 beaten severely and stabbed in his assigned cell E 428 in CCH. A
flammable chemical had also been thrown on him.
An investigation was begun and through interviews and evidence it was discovered
the above offender entered cell 428 with offender Ropp 162016 armed with
homemade kni[v]es and assaulted offender Stone. After the assault they threw a
flammable chemical on the offender and attempted to set him on fire.
Offender Stone lived through the assault but required outside medical treatment and
Details of interviews/evidence are available in case file. Refer to case file 07-ISP0171-IA.
Dkt. 13-1 at 2.
Bowling was notified of the charge on July 16, 2007, when he was served with the Report
of Conduct, Report of Investigation of Incident and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. The
Screening Officer noted that Bowling requested the victim as a witness to say he did not participate
in the attack and the video as evidence. Dkt. 13-2.
The Video Review Form states that it was determined that allowing Bowling to view the
video evidence requested would jeopardize the security of the facility and instead the video has
been reviewed outside the presence of the offender. The summary of the video states, “You do not
see the above Offender on the 500 Range, on the 400 Range you see two white offenders walk in
behind Stone.” Dkt. 13-3.
After one postponement, the Hearing Officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on July 23,
2007. Dkt. 13-6. The Hearing Officer noted Bowling’s statement that “I have no knowledge of the
incident.” The Hearing Officer determined that Bowling had violated Code A-102 based on staff
reports, statement of offender, the video review, and the Internal Affairs case file. The Hearing
Officer noted that Stone “was the victim in the incident & did not give a statement. Base[d] on IA
case file #07- ISP-0171 IA, we find the offender guilty.” Id. The sanctions imposed included one
year of disciplinary segregation, the deprivation of 180 days of earned credit time, and the
demotion from credit class I to credit class II. The Hearing Officer imposed the sanctions because
of the seriousness of the offense.
Internal Affairs File # 07-ISP-0171 was not disclosed to Bowling for safety and security
reasons. The file contains confidential information regarding the victim as well as statements from
numerous witnesses. In addition, the video reveals the location of security cameras.
Bowling filed an appeal to the Facility Head. The appeal was denied on August 24, 2007.
Bowling then appealed to the Final Review Authority, who denied the appeal on September 21,
Bowling raises four grounds for relief in his habeas petition: 1) he was denied a detailed
Hearing Report; 2) he received inadequate notice of the charge, 3) he was denied his right to call
a witness, and 4) the disciplinary hearing was improperly postponed. In his reply brief, Bowling
asserts that the video summary was exculpatory.
1. Written Basis for Decision
Bowling contends that he was denied his right to be provided an adequate written basis for
the hearing officer’s decision. Specifically, he argues that the hearing officer’s written statement
“Due process requires that an inmate subject to disciplinary action is provided ‘a written
statement by the factfinders as to the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary
actions.’” Scruggs v. Jordan, 485 F.3d 934, 941 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Forbes v. Trigg, 976 F.2d
308, 318 (7th Cir. 1992)). The written statement requirement is not “onerous,” as the statement
“need only illuminate the evidentiary basis and reasoning behind the decision.” Id. The purpose of
this requirement is to allow “a reviewing court ... [to] determine whether the evidence before the
committee was adequate to support its findings concerning the nature and gravity of the prisoner's
misconduct.” Saenz v. Young, 811 F.2d 1172, 1174 (7th Cir. 1987).
The written report of disciplinary hearing states that the hearing officer relied on staff
reports, statement of offender, and physical evidence specifically Internal Affairs case file # 07ISP-0171 and video review to reach his decision. Dkt. 13-6.
Although the written statement of decision was brief, it was sufficient to comport with due
process. When a case is “particularly straightforward,” the hearing officer need “only to set forth
the evidentiary basis and reasoning for the decision.” Jemison v. Knight, 244 Fed. Appx. 39, 42
(7th Cir. 2007); see also Scruggs, 485 F.3d at 941; Saenz, 811 F.2d at 1174. The hearing officer’s
decision was straightforward. He either could believe Bowling’s denial of involvement in battering
Stone, or credit the Internal Affairs report that detailed Bowling’s involvement. Given that the
hearing officer found him guilty, he clearly chose the latter. Therefore, the hearing officer’s simple
statement regarding the evidence on which he relied in making his decision is sufficient. The
hearing officer was not required to make any additional findings of fact, nor was he required to
disclose the information provided in the Internal Affairs file which showed his involvement.
Contrary to Bowling’s assertion, the hearing officer was not required to review the internal affairs
case file in his presence during the hearing. 1
In reply, Bowling complains he was not allowed to analyze the evidence the hearing officer
relied on in order to prepare his defense. But due process does not require that an offender be
provided with all of the evidence which will be used against him prior to the hearing. In addition,
the internal affairs file was properly withheld from Bowling’s review out of institutional security
Accordingly, an adequate written statement was provided, and Bowling is not entitled to
habeas relief on this basis.
Notice of the Charge
Bowling next asserts that he did not have adequate notice of the charge because the
information in the Conduct Report and Report of Investigation was not specific enough. He argues
The file is 139 pages long and takes a significant period of time to review.
that there was no listing of evidence collected and no names of the prisoners or staff interviewed
who assisted in the determination to charge him.
The Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause guarantees prisoners advance written
notice of the charges “to give the charged party a chance to marshal the facts in his defense and to
clarify what the charges are, in fact.” Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564. “Advance written notice of charges
must be given to the disciplinary action inmate, no less than 24 hours before his appearance before
the Adjustment Committee.” Wolff, 418 U.S. at 540. The Supreme Court has held the notice of
prison disciplinary charges is sufficient if it informs the offender of the charges and enables him
to marshal the facts and prepare a defense.” Id. at 564. The notice should alert the inmate to the
rule that he allegedly violated and summarize the facts underlying the charge. Whitford v. Boglino,
63 F.3d 527, 534 (7th Cir. 1995).
The respondent points out that the Conduct Report identified the date and time of the
incident, the specific code violation with which Bowling was charged, the place of the incident,
the name of the victim who was severely beaten, a description of the injuries, and confirmation
that the victim was transported to a hospital for treatment. This information contained in the
Conduct Report was specific enough to satisfy the due process requirement so that Bowling could
marshal a defense. See Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564. The reporting officer was not required to list every
piece of evidence or witness in the Conduct Report. It was enough that Bowling knew that Stone
was attacked in the CCH 400 range cell E428 at 6:50 on June 12, 2007, suffering several dozen
stab wounds and contusions, and that he was covered in a flammable chemical used in the Tag
Shop. Bowling was able to prepare a defense from that information. No relief is warranted on this
Bowling next argues that his request for a statement from Stone, the victim, was improperly
denied. Among the basic requirements of due process in a prison disciplinary proceeding is the
opportunity for the inmate to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in his defense.
Wolff, 418 U.S. at 566.
The report of disciplinary hearing states that Stone was the victim in the incident and did
not give a witness statement. Dkt. 13-6. Bowling argues that the Hearing Officer should have noted
whether Stone was contacted and/or refused to make a statement.
An offender’s right to present evidence is qualified because “prisoners do not have the right
to call witnesses whose testimony would be irrelevant, repetitive, or unnecessary.” Pannell v.
McBride, 306 F.3d 499, 503 (7th Cir. 2002). Although a written statement specifically in response
to Bowling’s request was not obtained, Stone was interviewed by Internal Affairs and his statement
is included in the confidential case file. The Hearing Officer properly reviewed the confidential
file that included Stone’s interview and was not required to disclose the file to Bowling. See White
v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 768 (7th Cir. 2001) (stating that there is no denial of opportunity
to review and present evidence where the Conduct Adjustment Board reviewed the evidence in
question as part of case file). As such, Stone’s statement was part of the evidence considered by
the Hearing Officer as Bowling had requested. The topic of Bowling’s involvement in the attack
was discussed during the interview, and Stone was clear in his statement. Any additional statement
obtained in response to Bowling’s request would have been repetitive and was therefore not
required. This court has reviewed the confidential information in camera and finds that it is reliable
and properly withheld from the petitioner.
The failure to get a witness statement specifically for the purpose of the disciplinary
hearing (as opposed to the investigation) did not, in this instance, violate Bowling’s due process
rights. The reason for this ruling is that Stone’s statement would not have been exculpatory and
the failure to procure a statement from Stone for Bowling did not prejudice Bowling’s defense.
Without a showing of prejudice, any alleged due process error is harmless. See Piggie v. Cotton,
344 F.3d 674, 677–78 (7th Cir. 2003) (determining potential witness’ absence was harmless error
because the petitioner did not establish that the statement would be helpful); see also O’Neal v.
McAninch, 513 U.S. 432 (1995) (in habeas corpus cases, even if a due process error has been
committed, the burden is on the petitioner to show that the error had a substantial and injurious
effect on the outcome of the proceeding).
No exculpatory evidence was withheld from Bowling. See Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674,
678–79 (7th Cir. 2003) (holding that offenders have a due process right to material exculpatory
Therefore, he has failed to establish any denial of due process based on the failure to
procure a witness statement from Stone.
4. Postponement of the Disciplinary Hearing
Bowling also contends that the reason given for the postponement of the disciplinary
hearing was inadequate. In so arguing, Bowling relies upon Indiana Department of Correction
policy outlining the procedures for permissible hearing postponements and argues that the reason
offered here for the postponement violated the policy. The Respondent correctly notes that this
argument cannot be raised in this proceeding. The mere violation of a prison policy does not
constitute a cognizable claim under § 2254. Evans v. McBride, 94 F.3d 1062 (7th Cir. 1996). In
conducting habeas review, “a federal court is limited to deciding whether a conviction violated the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67–68, 112
S. Ct. 475, 116 L.Ed.2d 385 (1991). Therefore, this is not a viable issue for this habeas proceeding.
5. Video Evidence
Bowling argues in his reply that the video review summary states that he was not seen at
the time and place of incident. He is mistaken. The summary of the video states, “You do not see
the above Offender on the 500 Range, on the 400 Range you see two white offenders walk in
behind Stone.” Dkt. 13-3.
The fact that Bowling lived in the 500 range and was not seen on the 500 range at the time
of the attack (which occurred on the 400 range) is not exculpatory. In addition, Bowling is white
and the video reflects that Stone was followed into his cell (where the attack occurred) by two
Bowling was given proper notice and had an opportunity to defend the charge. The hearing
officer 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 Bowling’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 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.
Marjorie H. Lawyer-Smith
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
STEVEN B. BOWLING
NEW CASTLE - CF
NEW CASTLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
1000 Van Nuys Road
NEW CASTLE, IN 47362
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