CARTER v. SUPERINTENDENT
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUSAND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT. Carter's Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus must be DENIED and the action DISMISSED. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. See entry for details. Signed by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on 8/14/2017. (Copy mailed to William Carter) (MEJ)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SUPERINTENDENT New Castle Correctional
Case No. 1:16-cv-02873-TWP-MPB
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
This matter is before the Court on pro se Petitioner William Carter’s (“Carter”) Petition for
Writ of Habeas Corpus challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. NCF 16-060028 (Dkt. 1). For the reasons explained in this Entry, Carter’s 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).
THE DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING
On May 28, 2016, Officer Krul wrote a Report of Conduct (“the Conduct Report”) charging
Carter with sexual conduct in violation of Code B-216. The Conduct Report states:
On the above date and approximate time I Ofc. Krul and female Ofc K. Smith were
conducting a major line movement doing random pat downs I then called Offender
William Carter doc # 160394 for a pat down. At this time I asked Williams to
remove what he was holding in his jumpsuite [sic] and [he] turned around and said
(“[I]’m holding myself”) as he pulled his penis out. Offender was advised of
Filing No. 12-1 at 1.
Carter was notified of the charge on June 6, 2016, when he received the Conduct Report.
He pled not guilty to the charge, requested a lay advocate for the hearing, did not call any
witnesses, but did request video evidence to show that he did not expose himself. Carter was
denied the ability to view the video evidence because it was determined that doing so would
jeopardize the safety and security of the facility. Officer T. Thompson reviewed the video
evidence of the requested location from 5:00 to 5:30 (the incident occurred at 5:15); he completed
a Video Evidence Review and summarized the video as follows: “The video . . . was reviewed . .
. as the offender requested. Video shows Officers on the walk doing pat searches but I am unable
to identify anyone or see any details. Camera does not record sound.” (Filing No. 12-6). Officer
Smith provided a witness statement in support of the Conduct Report, which stated: “I Ofc. K.
Smith witnessed offender Carter #160394 expose his penis to Ofc. Krul when asked what he was
holding.” (Filing No. 12-5 at 1.)
A disciplinary hearing was held on June 7, 2016. Carter stated at the hearing, “I don’t
know, I did not do this or expose myself.” (Filing No. 12-8.) Based on the staff reports, Carter’s
statement, the witness statement, and the video evidence, the hearing officer found Carter guilty
of sexual conduct. The sanctions imposed included a ninety-day earned-credit-time deprivation
and a demotion in credit class.
Carter appealed to the Facility Head and the Indiana Department of Correction Final
Reviewing Authority, but both of his appeals were denied. He then brought this Petition pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Carter raises several claims in his habeas petition. First, in Grounds 1 and 3, he argues that
he was denied due process because he was not allowed to view the video evidence and that Officer
Thompson lied in his video review statement when he claimed that allowing Carter to view the
video would jeopardize the safety and security of the facility. Second, Carter argues that neither
his statement nor the video evidence supported the hearing officer’s finding of guilt; nonetheless,
that evidence was relied upon to find him guilty. Third, Carter challenges the denial of his first
The Respondent construed Carter’s first challenge regarding the video evidence as a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. But the Court believes Carter’s claim is more
accurately construed as one challenging denial of exculpatory evidence and the resulting inability
to utilize it in his defense. The Respondent submitted the video evidence to the Court for in camera
review and supplemented their return to the show cause order, and Carter filed a supplemental
reply. His Petition is now ripe for decision, and the Court will address each of his claims in turn.
Carter argues that he was denied due process because he was unable to view the video
evidence and utilize it in his defense. 1 As set forth in the Court’s previous order, “procedural due
process require[s] prison officials to disclose all material exculpatory evidence,” unless that
evidence “would unduly threaten institutional concerns.” Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 847 (7th
Cir. 2011) (citation and quotation marks omitted). “But prison authorities who assert a security
justification for nondisclosure [of video evidence] still have the burden of proving that their denial
of requested evidence was not ‘arbitrary or capricious.’” Johnson v. Brown, 681 Fed. Appx. 494,
496 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Piggie v. McBride, 277 F.3d 922, 925 (7th Cir. 2002)). Second, “even
when prison administrators have a valid justification for withholding video evidence, ‘due process
requires that the district court conduct an in camera review’ to assess whether the undisclosed
video is exculpatory.” Id. (quoting Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 679 (7th Cir. 2003)).
Carter maintains that there is no possible security justification for withholding the video
evidence because it would “reveal nothing that an offender cannot view or see on his daily
movement through the facility.” Filing No. 1 at 4; see Filing No. 19 at 6. Carters focus, however,
is incorrect. The security concern offered by the Respondent is not with allowing Carter to see the
content of the video recording, it is that if Carter were permitted to view the video it “would reveal
the location of the video camera, which [Mr.] Carter could . . . share with the offender
population,” and this would allow inmates to “cover or destroy necessary surveillance equipment.”
Filing No. 16-1 at 2. This is a valid security justification for withholding the video evidence from
Carter also refers to his claim regarding the denial of the video evidence as a claim that he was denied an impartial
decisionmaker. But the basis for Carter’s assertion that the decisionmaker was impartial is not that the decisionmaker
was biased due to an impermissible involvement in the incident or the investigation thereof, see Piggie, 342 F.3d at
666-67, but that he denied Carter the video evidence. The Court therefore treats this claim as one regarding the denial
of exculpatory evidence, rather than one regarding the impartiality of the decisionmaker. Even if the Court treated it
as the latter, Carter has not made the necessary showing of bias to succeed on such a claim. See id.
Carter. See Piggie, 344 F.3d at 679 (“[W]e have had no trouble approving of non-disclosure [of
video evidence] where prison officials have asserted a bona fide security justification, for example,
that if the inmate were permitted to watch the tape, he might learn the location and capabilities of
the prison surveillance system, thus allowing him to avoid detection in the future.”).
Even if the foregoing was not a valid justification for withholding the video, Carter would
not be entitled to the video evidence in any event because it is not exculpatory. The Court
conducted an in camera review of the video evidence and concludes that the video summary
prepared by Officer Thompson was accurate—that is, the video “shows Officers on the walk doing
pat searches” but the video’s view, quality, and lack of sound do now allow the viewer to “identify
anyone or see any details.” Filing No. 12-6 at 1. Simply put, the video does not show Carter (or
anyone else) exposing himself or confirm that he did not expose himself; rather, the viewer cannot
distinguish between individuals in the video, let alone determine whether any inmate exposed
themself during the pat down searches that occurred on the video. Because of this, the video was
not exculpatory. See Jones, 637 F.3d at 847 (noting that evidence is exculpatory if it undermines
or contradicts the finding of guilty). If the video is not exculpatory, it could not have violated
Carter’s due process rights to prevent him from viewing it. See id.
For both of the foregoing reasons, Carter’s claim regarding the withholding of the video
evidence lacks merit.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Carter argues that neither his statement at the disciplinary hearing that he did not expose
himself nor the video evidence supports the hearing officer’s conclusion that he was guilty, but yet
the hearing officer relied on them in finding him guilty. Carter’s argument stems from the Report
of Disciplinary Hearing, on which the hearing officer checked boxes reflecting that he “relied on”
the “Statement of Offender” and “Video Evidence,” among other evidence, to reach his
conclusion. Filing No. 12-8. Carter is correct that neither his statement nor the video demonstrate
his guilt. But he reads too much into the fact that the hearing officer checked boxes indicating that
he “relied on” this evidence in reaching his conclusion. A fair reading of the report is that the
hearing officer considered this evidence along with the other evidence and ultimately concluded
that Carter was guilty, despite the fact that not every piece of evidence relied on proved his guilt.
Given this, Carter’s argument is, at best, a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, as he argues
that at least certain of the evidence on which the hearing officer relied failed to demonstrate his
Challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence are governed by the “some evidence”
standard. “[A] hearing officer’s decision need only rest on ‘some evidence’ logically supporting
it and demonstrating that the result is not arbitrary.” Ellison v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th
Cir. 2016); see Eichwedel v. Chandler, 696 F.3d 660, 675 (7th Cir. 2012) (“The some evidence
standard . . . is satisfied if there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion
reached by the disciplinary board.”) (citation and quotation marks omitted). “[T]he relevant
question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached
by the disciplinary board.” Hill, 472 U.S. at 455-56.
There is certainly “some evidence” in the record supporting the hearing officer’s
conclusion that Carter exposed himself. Although, as Carter points out, the video evidence and
his own statement do not support the conclusion that he exposed himself, the Conduct Report and
the witness statement from Officer Smith both clearly constitute evidence supporting the hearing
officer’s conclusion that he did. The Conduct Report alone can “provide ‘some evidence’ for
the . . . decision,” McPherson, 188 F.3d at 786, and here it is corroborated by Officer Smith’s
witness statement. Accordingly, there was sufficient evidence for the hearing officer to conclude
that Carter was guilty of sexual conduct.
Administrative Appeal Process
Carter’s final claim focuses on the decision rendered in his first administrative appeal by
Warden Keith Butts, although the precise nature of his claim is unclear. Warden Butts’ denial of
Carter’s first administrative appeal noted, among other things, that the Conduct Report and
evidence support the charge and that there were not procedural errors. Carter appears to criticize
the evidence on which Warden Butts relied—which was the same evidence on which the hearing
officer relied—and the fact that he was denied access to the video evidence.
To the extent that Carter’s claim simply reiterates his two claims addressed above, this
claim is denied for the same reasons. Moreover, if his claim is specifically about a deficiency in
the appeals process, there is no due process right to an administrative appeal, and thus any
irregularities, misconduct, or errors during the administrative appeal process cannot form the basis
for habeas relief. The Supreme Court in Wolff made clear that “[p]rison disciplinary proceedings
are not part of a criminal prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant in such
proceedings does not apply.” 418 U.S. at 556. The due process rights that apply, which are set
forth in detail in Wolff, do not include any safeguards during an administrative appeal, nor even a
right to appeal at all. And the procedural guarantees set forth in Wolff may not be expanded by the
lower courts. See White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 768 (7th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, any
alleged errors or misconduct during the administrative appeals process do not entitled Carter to
For these reasons, Carter is not entitled to relief on this claim.
“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 Carter to the relief he seeks.
Accordingly, Carter’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus must be DENIED and the action
Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
William Carter, #160394
New Castle Correctional Facility
1000 Van Nuys Road
New Castle, Indiana 47362
Abigail T. Rom
OFFICE OF THE INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?