BLAYLOCK v. SUPERINTENDENT
ENTRY Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. See Entry. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. Copy to Petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 6/14/2017.(SWM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
) Case No. 1:16-cv-1609-TWP-MJD
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
This matter is before the Court on a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Petitioner
John Blaylock, challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. NCF 16-04-256. For
the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. Blaylock’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, 64445 (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 26, 2016, Officer LaBoyteaux wrote a Report of Conduct in case NCF 16-04256 charging Mr. Blaylock with possession of a narcotic. The Conduct Report states:
I Ofc. LaBoyteaux on the above date and approximate time was conducting a
shakedown with K9 Kilo. While searching the property box C2-223 K9 Kilo indicated the
possibility of narcotics in a small clear bag with a white powdery substance. I then notified
Sgt. Denny. The property box belonged to Offender Blaylock, John #860519.
On April 29, 2016, Mr. Blaylock 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. He did not request a witness. He also
requested the substance be sent to the lab for further testing. This request was denied because the
substance had been sent to Internal Affairs for testing. [Dkt. 8-3].
The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in NCF 16-04-256 on May 3, 2016.
Mr. Blaylock’s comment was “It was salt and flour. I wanted it tested at a lab.” [Dkt. 8-5]. The
hearing officer found Mr. Blaylock guilty of possession of a controlled substance. He considered
all evidence including staff reports, the offender’s statement, and the physical evidence, which
included the pictures and confidential e-mail from Internal Affairs. The hearing officer also stated
that the reason for his decision was that Internal Affairs tested the substance and it tested positive
for cocaine. The hearing officer recommended the following sanctions that were approved:
disciplinary segregation (time served); thirty (30) days lost commissary and phone privileges; 90
days of earned credit time deprivation; and a demotion from credit class 1 to credit class 2. [Dkt.
Mr. Blaylock 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. Blaylock is not entitled to habeas relief because he was afforded due process. He argues
he was denied due process because he was disciplined without the substance found in his property
box being sent to a lab and that the field test used to support the guilty finding is invalid. This can
be summarized as a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence.
In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, “courts are not required to conduct an
examination of the entire record, independently assess witness credibility, or weigh the evidence,
but only determine whether the prison disciplinary board’s decision to revoke good time credits
has some factual basis.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999); see also Meeks
v. McBride, 81 F.3d 717, 720 (7th Cir. 1996) (“because the ‘some evidence’ standard . . . does not
permit courts to consider the relative weight of the evidence presented to the disciplinary board, it
is ‘[g]enerally immaterial that an accused prisoner presented exculpatory evidence unless that
evidence directly undercuts the reliability of the evidence on which the disciplinary authority
relied’ in support of its conclusion”) (quoting Viens v. Daniels, 871 F.2d 1328, 1335 (7th Cir.
1989)). Instead, the “some evidence” standard of Hill is lenient, “requiring only that the decision
not be arbitrary or without support in the record.” McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786. The evidence here
was constitutionally sufficient. See Henderson v. United States Parole Comm'n, 13 F.3d 1073,
1077 (7th Cir. 1993) (a federal habeas court “will overturn the [hearing officer’s] decision only if
no reasonable adjudicator could have found [the petitioner] guilty of the offense on the basis of
the evidence presented.”).
Here, the evidence is sufficient to support the guilty finding. A white powdery substance
was found in Mr. Blaylock’s property box. The substance was tested and tested positive for
cocaine. [Dkt. 10, ex parte]. To the extent Mr. Blaylock argues the substance should have been
retested at a lab, this argument is without merit. Prisoners do not have a generalized right to a
retest. Henson v. U.B. Bureau of Prisons, 213 F.3d 897, 898 (5th Cir. 2000) (holding that there is
no general right to retest positive drug results in the context of a prison disciplinary proceeding).
“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. Blaylock’s petition for a writ
of habeas corpus must be denied. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Electronic distribution to counsel of record via CM/ECF and by U.S. mail to:
JOHN R. BLAYLOCK
NEW CASTLE - CF
NEW CASTLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
1000 Van Nuys Road
NEW CASTLE, IN 47362
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