BOCHNER v. SUPERINTENDENT
ENTRY Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Directing Entry of Final Judgment - Accordingly, his 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 3/22/2017.(JLS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SUPERINTENDENT New Castle Correctional
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas
Corpus and Directing Entry of Final Judgment
For the reasons explained in this Entry, the petition of John Bochner for a writ of habeas
corpus must be denied and this action dismissed.
In Indiana, the Sex Offender Management & Monitoring (“SOMM”) is a required
treatment program for sex offenders sentenced to the Indiana Department of Correction.
(“SOMM”). See Hadley v. Buss, 385 F. Appx. 600, 601 (7th Cir. 2010). There are exemptions
from the mandatory SOMM program, one of which is when an offender has a pending appeal or
post-conviction relief proceeding relating to the conviction after having pled “not guilty” to the
charge. The burden is on the offender to provide required verification of his alleged exemption
status. According to a conduct report issued on June 16, 2016, Indiana prisoner John Bochner
refused to participate in a SOMM program at the New Castle Correctional Facility after being
directed to do so. At a hearing on the allegations, Bochner was found to have violated prison rules
by failing to participate in the program and was sanctioned. This challenge followed.
The question presented in Bochner’s habeas petition is whether there was sufficient
evidence to support the hearing officer’s decision. The Supreme Court has explained that there
must be “some evidence in the record” to support the finding of guilt. See Superintend., Mass.
Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985). A challenge to an administrative decision such as
presented here triggers judicial review under one of the “narrowest known” standards. United
States v. Kizeart, 505 F.3d 672, 674 (7th Cir. 2007). This 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). Although the evidence before the disciplinary board must "point to the
accused's guilt," Lenea v. Lane, 882 F.2d 1171, 1175 (7th Cir. 1989), Aonly evidence that was
presented to the Adjustment Committee is relevant to this analysis.@ Hamilton v. O'Leary, 976 F.2d
341, 346 (7th Cir. 1992).
Bochner admits to having refused the program assignment, but contends that under
applicable prison rules he was exempt from mandatory participation in the program. He suggests
that he documented his exemption, which records from the proceeding reflect, but the hearing
officer nonetheless found him guilty of the charged misconduct, refusing a mandatory program.
Here, the evidence was constitutionally sufficient. Bochner refused the SOMM program
assignment after having been directed to accept it. The hearing officer concluded that Bochner did
not produce evidence that he had a pending post-conviction relief proceeding, thus Bochner was
required to participate in the SOMM program. A rational trier of fact could easily find this
evidence to be refusal to accept a program assignment, and that is enough to satisfy the some
evidence requirement of Hill. Henderson v. United States Parole Comm'n, 13 F.3d 1073, 1077
(7th Cir. 1993) (a federal habeas court Awill 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). A contrary decision could be made
only if the evidence compelled a finding that Bochner was exempt from the program assignment.
That is not the nature of the conflicting evidence, even if a rational adjudicator could also have
found Bochner exempt. See 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.").
In his reply, Bochner submits evidence that he was subsequently granted an exemption from the
SOMM program and his lost credit time ultimately restored. However, this is not a situation in
which the Court can re-weigh the evidence or assign a particular significance to the evidence
Bochner offered at the hearing. McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999) (in
reviewing a disciplinary determination for 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”).
"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 proceeding, or sanctions involved in the events identified in this action, and there was
no constitutional infirmity in the proceeding which entitles Bochner to the relief he seeks. His
arguments that he was denied the protection afforded by Hill is refuted by the expanded record.
Accordingly, his petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed.
Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
Electronic distribution to counsel of record via CM/ECF and by U.S. mail to:
NEW CASTLE - CF
NEW CASTLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
1000 Van Nuys Road
NEW CASTLE, IN 47362
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