COLLINS v. KNIGHT
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Directing Entry of Final Judgment. (Copy to Petitioner via U.S. Mail) Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 10/19/2017. (JDC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
and Directing Entry of Final Judgment
The petition of David Collins for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary
proceeding, CIC 16-07-0279, in which he was found guilty of battery, B-212. For the reasons
explained in this entry, Mr. Collins’ 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,
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 July 22, 2016, Sergeant B. Roberts issued a Report of Conduct charging Mr. Collins
with battery in violation of Code B-212. The Report of Conduct states:
On July 21, 2016 at approximately 2:00AM I Sergeant B. Roberts was notified by
the shift office that there was a note turned in that Offender Jason Hood 111151
1B-5F had been assaulted by Offender David Collins 136767 15A-1F & Offender
Robert Fields 224946 15B-1F. I found Offender Hood to have injuries consistent
with have being [sic] involved in a fight. After reviewing the camera, Offender
Hood was seen going into cell 15-1F at 11:09.02am and came out and went into
the TV room where he lived at 11:18am. Once he entered the TV room he was
seen on camera wiping his face. Offender Hood was questioned about who had
assa[ulted] him and he stated that Offender Collins and Offender Fields had
jumped him in their cell over a disagreement over the phone.
Dkt. No. 11-1.
Mr. Collins was notified of the charge on July 29, 2016, when he was served with the
Report of Conduct and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing (Screening Report). The Screening
Officer noted that Mr. Collins wanted statements from Offenders Jason Hood and Robert Fields.
Dkt. No. 11-2. The request for a statement from offender Hood was denied for safety and
security reasons. Id. (“For safety and security reasons the victim cannot be called as a witness.”).
The Screening Officer also noted that Mr. Collins did not request any physical evidence nor a lay
advocate. Id. Mr. Collins asked offender Fields the purpose of being in Hood’s cell, and Fields
responded, “Hood came in our cell to ask questions about T.C. stuff and left.” Dkt. No. 11-3.
The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing on August 11, 2016. Dkt. No. 11-6.
The hearing officer noted Mr. Collins’ statement:
I did not touch that kid. The camera clearly shows I didn’t do nothing. That man
has tried his best to let everyone know that Sgt. Roberts made up that statement.
Off. Hood never made that stat[e]ment. Hood said it happened @ medical and I
had absolutely nothing to do with it. Trying to go back to T.C.
The hearing officer considered staff reports and offender statements in determining that
Mr. Collins had violated Code B-212. Id. His reason for the decision was “[c]onduct is clear.
Hood told Sgt. Roberts he was assaulted by Offend. Collins.” Id. The sanctions imposed included
a written reprimand, a 30-day phone and commissary restriction, 30 days of disciplinary
segregation (suspended), and the deprivation of 30 days of earned credit time. Id. The hearing
officer imposed the sanctions because of the seriousness and nature of the offense and the
likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on the offender’s future behavior. Id.
Mr. Collins’ appeals were denied. This habeas action followed.
Mr. Collins argues that his due process rights were violated during the disciplinary
proceeding. His single claim is that he was denied a witness statement from the victim Jason
Hood. Mr. Collins wanted to ask offender Hood “Did I assault you?” and “Did you turn in a note
about being assaulted?” Dkt. No. 11-2.
An inmate “facing disciplinary proceedings should be allowed to call witnesses and
present documentary evidence in his defense when permitting him to do so will not be unduly
hazardous to institutional safety or correctional goals.” Wolff, 418 U.S. at 566. Here, the witness
requested by Mr. Collins was the alleged victim of his assault. “Prison officials must have the
necessary discretion to keep the hearing within reasonable limits and to refuse to call witnesses
that may create a risk of reprisal or undermine authority….” Id. “Confrontation and crossexamination present greater hazards to institutional interests” and are not required in the context
of disciplinary proceedings. Id. at 567.
Here, someone left a note at the shift office that offender Hood had been assaulted by Mr.
Collins and another inmate. Mr. Collins wanted to ask Mr. Hood if he left the note, but the
question of who left the note is irrelevant. Mr. Hood was found and he had injuries consistent
with being involved in a fight. When asked about his injuries, Mr. Hood told Officer Roberts that
Mr. Collins and another inmate had assaulted him. Mr. Collins does not dispute that the victim
was in his cell, where the assault allegedly took place.
The Supreme Court has acknowledged that there is an “unwritten code that exhorts
inmates not to inform on a fellow prisoner.” Wolff, 418 U.S. at 562. To place the victim in the
position of having to make another statement about the assault, before his assailant, would place
him in a more dangerous position than he already potentially faces. Mr. Collins did not have the
right to, in effect, cross-examine Mr. Hood, and the prison’s discretionary decision to deny Mr.
Collins that witness was well-founded.
Mr. Collins 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. Collins’ due process
“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. Collins’ petition for a
writ of habeas corpus is denied and the action dismissed. Judgment shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Electronically registered counsel
New Castle Correctional Facility - Inmate Mail/Parcels
1000 Van Nuys Road
New Castle, In 47362
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