VANCLEAVE v. BUGHER et al
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus And Directing Entry of Final Judgment - Gregory VanCleave, an inmate in the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC), petitions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for the reversal of certain discipli nary sanctions he received in IDOC proceeding number IYC-16-08-0195. Mr. VanCleave was found guilty of possession or use of a controlled substance while he was incarcerated at the Plainfield Correctional Facility. His petition, for the reasons expl ained below, is denied. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. The clerk is directed to update the docket to reflect the Petitioner's change of address as indicated in the distribution list below. The clerk is also directed to up date the docket to reflect the sole respondent as identified in this Entry's caption, pursuant to the automatic substitution of parties under Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d). Copy to petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 3/13/2017.(RSF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SUPERINTENDENT, Duvall Work
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
And Directing Entry of Final Judgment
Gregory VanCleave, an inmate in the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC), petitions
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for the reversal of certain disciplinary sanctions he received in IDOC
proceeding number IYC-16-08-0195. Mr. VanCleave was found guilty of possession or use of a
controlled substance while he was incarcerated at the Plainfield Correctional Facility. His petition,
for the reasons explained below, is denied.
Indiana prisoners 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 of law. Due process is satisfied when prisoners are given advance
written notice of the charges against them, provided an opportunity, albeit with limitations, to
present evidence to an impartial decision maker, given a written statement articulating the reasons
for the disciplinary action and the evidence justifying it, and when there is “some evidence in the
record” to support a 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
Mr. VanCleave was charged on August 12, 2016, in a conduct report written by
Investigator P. Prulhiere, with “Class B” offense “202, Possession or Use of a Controlled
Substance.” Dkt. 10-1. Prulhiere wrote the report charging Mr. VanCleave with this offense
because Mr. VanCleave’s randomly collected urine sample, taken August 3, 2016, tested positive
for amphetamine and methamphetamine. At about 12:05 p.m. on that day, the sample was
provided to and collected by Sergeant J. Wilson. Redwood Toxicology Laboratory tested the
sample and reported that it was positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine. Dkt. 10-2. The
prison disciplinary proceeding followed.
The prison served Mr. VanCleave with the Conduct Report and a Notice of Disciplinary
Hearing (Screening Report). Dkt. 10-3. He was notified of his rights and he pled not guilty.
Mr. VanCleave did not request a lay advocate but requested information from a witness, Sergeant
Sgt. Wilson provided a written statement. The hearing officer considered the Conduct
Report, Redwood Toxicology Laboratory’s report, the Screening Report, a statement from
Sergeant Wilson, and Mr. VanCleave’s statements.
The hearing officer found Mr. VanCleave guilty of the violations and imposed as sanctions
the loss of sixty (60) days of earned time credit, demotion from credit class one to credit class two,
and reimbursement to the correctional facility of $17.28 for the cost of the urine test. Dkt. 10-6.
Mr. VanCleave has exhausted his administrative appeal remedies.
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Mr. VanCleave claims that his rights to due process of law were denied because there was
insufficient evidence to find him guilty. He argues that he takes a prescribed medication, Zantac,
which caused a false positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine in the laboratory test.
“[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). The “some evidence” evidentiary standard in this type of case is much more lenient than
“beyond a reasonable doubt” or even “by a preponderance.” See Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d 978,
981 (7th Cir. 2002) (hearing officer in prison disciplinary case “need not show culpability beyond
a reasonable doubt or credit exculpatory evidence.”); McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786
(7th Cir. 1999) (“In reviewing a decision for ‘some 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.”) (internal quotation 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.
In his reply, Mr. VanCleave contends that he “presented documentary evidence that clearly
showed the medication he was prescribed, Zantac . . . would cause a false positive for
amphetamine/meth.” Dkt. 12, p. 4. The hearing officer, Mr. VanCleave contends, “outright
rejected” his evidence. He did this, according to Mr. VanCleave, by having Mr. VanCleave leave
the room while he made a phone call. Mr. VanCleave asserts that when he was summoned back
into the room, the hearing officer announced that he had “to find you guilty.” Dkt. 12, p. 5.
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While the evidence that Mr. VanCleave presented to the hearing officer is not in the record,
Mr. VanCleave writes that he did, in fact, present it to the hearing officer, who then outright
rejected it. The scope of this Court’s review is not to decide which party had the better or stronger
evidence, or which evidence must be believed or discounted. Rather, it is to determine whether
Mr. VanCleave was afforded due process of law and a fundamentally fair process. Here, the
Conduct Report and the laboratory report constituted “some evidence.” Because there was indeed
some evidence to support the disciplinary decision, the decision was not arbitrary, and the requisite
due process steps were provided, Mr. VanCleave cannot show entitlement to habeas corpus relief.
Hill, 472 U.S. at 454.
For the reasons set out above, Gregory VanCleave’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus is
denied. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
The clerk is directed to update the docket to reflect the Petitioner’s change of address as
indicated in the distribution list below. The clerk is also directed to update the docket to reflect
the sole respondent as identified in this Entry’s caption, pursuant to the automatic substitution of
parties under Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Note to Clerk: Processing this document requires actions in addition to docketing and distribution.
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Electronically registered counsel
IDOC No. 219909
Duvall Work Release Facility
1848 Ludlow Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46201
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