DENNY v. KNIGHT
ENTRY Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Directing Entry of Final Judgment. Mr. Denny's petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. Signed by Judge Larry J. McKinney on 1/31/2017. (LDH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TYRONE DENNY IYC 16-04-0008,
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
and Directing Entry of Final Judgment
The petition of Tyrone Denny for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary
proceeding, IYC 16-04-0008, in which he was found guilty of unauthorized possession of
personal information. For the reasons explained in this entry, Mr. Denny’s habeas petition must
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,
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); Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 845 (7th Cir. 2011); Piggie v. Cotton,
344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 2003); Webb v. Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 652 (7th Cir. 2000).
II. The Disciplinary Proceeding
On March 25, 2016, Investigator P. Prulhiere, wrote a conduct report charging Mr. Denny
with offense B-247 Unauthorized Possession of Personal Information. Dkt. 12-1. The conduct
Use of a Global Tel Link phone pin number or a J-pay password by another
offender who is not the owner of the pin number or password, is considered
unauthorized possession or use of property of value belonging to another
offender. Any offender who provides their Global Tel Link phone pin number or
J-Pay password information to another offender, or allows another offender to use
those assets under his user credentials, is in violation and is considered to be
aiding in unauthorized possession of property of value belonging to another
offender. Failure by the owner to protect the security of their credentials is not a
defense in conduct violations. The below information shows a detected violation
of these standards and lists the system affected, the area, date and time of the
detection as well as the asset owner and unauthorized user information:
System used in violation: Global Tel Link
Date of offense: March 18, 2016
Date of Discovery: March 25, 2016
Time of Offense: approx. 4:28 pm
Name and DOC of Offender who used unauthorized PIN or Password: Tyrone
Account Name/Account Number or Phone Number: 317-970-1199
Area of Offense: K2 Rec Room, phone IHUK-2
Owning Offender Name and DOC: Rodney Berry 978745
The conduct report also noted that “[v]erifications of the identity of the violators for this
charge is provided in the evidence listed below: … Photo of Offender using phone at the noted
time on the recorded phone call (confidential).” Dkt. 12-1; Dkt. 13 (under seal). This conduct
report was written as a result of a confidential internal affairs investigation. Dkt. 13-1 (under
On April 6, 2016, Mr. Denny was notified of the charge of possession or solicitation of
unauthorized personal information, and was served with a copy of the conduct report and the
screening report. Mr. Denny was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. Dkt. 12-2. He
requested a lay advocate and a lay advocate was later appointed. Dkt. 12-3. Mr. Denny did not
request any witnesses. As physical evidence, he requested the Internal Affairs (“IA”) case file,
which was reviewed by the disciplinary hearing officer (“DHO”). Dkt. 12-4.
On April 8, 2016, a disciplinary hearing was held in case IYC 16-04-008. Dkt. 12-4. Mr.
Denny provided the following statement: “I checked on Berry’s stuff. He asked me too [sic]. But
these other two write-ups are bogus. The only reason he wrote me up, is because three of us
share the same number.” Id. The DHO found Mr. Denny guilty of (B-247) possession or
solicitation of personal information. The DHO stated: “DHB considers all evidence to include
offender statement, IA case file, and staff reports and finds DENNY #160500 guilty of a 247B.”
Id. Due to the seriousness, frequency, and nature of the offense, as well as the likelihood of the
sanction having a corrective effect on the offender’s future behavior, the DHO imposed the
following sanctions: 30 days’ lost phone/J-pay/commissary privileges; 90 days’ disciplinary
segregation; and 90 days’ lost earned credit time. Id.
Mr. Denny’s appeals were denied. This habeas action followed.
Mr. Denny alleges that his due process rights were violated during the disciplinary
proceeding. His claims are summarized as: (1) he was improperly written up on duplicate
charges; (2) he was not given the opportunity to be present at the hearing to speak on his own
behalf; (3) the decision-maker was not impartial; (4) he was not given a lay advocate; and (5) he
was not given the opportunity to present documentary evidence. Dkt. 7.
Mr. Denny argues that IYC 16-04-008 was a duplicate of IYC 16-04-006 and IYC 16-04007. The record shows, however, that the two other disciplinary charges were based on his
unauthorized possession of personal information that occurred on two other dates, using
information owned by two different offenders. Dkt. 2-1, pp. 6, 8. The three charges were not
Claims 2, 4, and 5
Mr. Denny’s claims that he was not allowed to appear and speak at the hearing, that he
was not given a lay advocate, and he was not allowed to present evidence, are all contradicted by
Mr. Denny did, in fact, make a statement at the hearing. Dkt. 12-4. In Mr. Denny’s first
appeal, he discussed the conversation that he had with the DHO at the hearing. Dkt. 12-5. He has
shown no due process error in this regard.
Contrary to Mr. Denny’s allegation, a lay advocate was assigned to the case. Dkt. 12-3.
To the extent Mr. Denny argues that a law advocate did not, in fact, appear with him at the
hearing, an offender does not have a due process right to a lay advocate in a disciplinary
proceeding unless he is illiterate or unable to understand complex charges against him. Wolff,
418 U.S. at 570. Mr. Denny does not allege nor would the record support a finding that he is
illiterate or did not understand the charge against him. His written statement at the hearing and
his filings in this action demonstrate that he is literate and understood the charge. Mr. Denny
“had no constitutional right to the assistance of any lay advocate, much less the lay advocate of
his choice.” Doan v. Buss, 82 Fed.Appx. 168, 172 (7th Cir. Oct. 31, 2003) (citing Miller v.
Duckworth, 963 F.2d 1002, 1004) (7th Cir. 1992)). There was no due process error in any
alleged denial of a lay advocate.
With respect to presenting evidence, the DHO stated in his hearing report that he did
consider the IA case file. Although the IA case file was confidential and not made available to
Mr. Denny, the evidence was considered. This claim does not demonstrate a violation of due
Mr. Denny alleges that he was “never given the right to a fair hearing before an impartial
decision-maker.” Dkt. 7. Inmates are entitled to an impartial decision-maker. Mr. Denny,
however, has alleged no facts that would render the DHO partial or biased. Simply alleging bias
is not sufficient to support a due process violation. A prison official who is “directly or
substantially involved in the factual events underlying the disciplinary charges, or in the
investigation thereof,” may not adjudicate those charges. Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 667
(7th Cir. 2003). “Adjudicators are entitled to a presumption of honesty and integrity.” Id. at 666.
“[T]he constitutional standard for impermissible bias is high.” Id. “[T]angential involvement
with the underlying facts is not a problem,” as far as bias in the disciplinary setting is concerned.
Wilson-El v. Finnan, 281 Fed.Appx. 589, 591 (7th Cir. June 12, 2008). ). Accordingly, this claim
The record shows that there was some evidence, consisting of the conduct report and IA
file, to support the charge that Mr. Denny had possessed unauthorized personal information, a
telephone number and/or pin number, from another offender, Rodney Berry, in violation of
Indiana Department of Correction policy. Mr. Denny 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 Mr. Denny’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 proceedings. Accordingly, Mr. Denny’s petition for a
writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this
Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
LARRY J. McKINNEY, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Electronically registered counsel
WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
Electronic Service Participant – Court Only
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