WILLIAMS v. SUPERINTENDENT
ENTRY - Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Directing Entry of Final Judgment ;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 Mr. Williams to the relief he seeks. Mr. Williams's petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. Signed by Judge Sarah Evans Barker on 1/11/2018. Copy Mailed. (CKM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SUPERINTENDENT Plainfield Correctional
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Directing Entry of Final Judgment
The petition of Dwight Williams for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison
disciplinary proceeding identified as No. IYC 16-11-0008. For the reasons explained in this
Entry, Mr. Williams’s habeas 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 October 31, 2014, Investigator C. Feldkamp wrote a report of conduct in case IYC
16-11-0008, charging Williams with offense A-100, participation in criminal gang (I.C. § 35-459-3). The conduct report states:
On 10/2/2016 at approximately 1:50 am I[,] Investigator C. Feldkamp conducted
an investigation into allegations that offenders Dwight Williams #973439, Jesse
Eddy #140112, Samuel Gonzales #220185, Courtney Love #112871, Derrick
Jones #220226, Charles Jones #962674 and Deandre Tyus #259815 participated
in criminal gang activity to include trafficking, organized/ conspiracy to commit
assault and battery, conspiracy/ destruction of a crime scene and possession of
dangerous or deadly contraband. A confidential case file is maintained in I&I 16IYC-0145 and is available for review in the I&I Office. Sufficient substantiated
evidence exists to support this case.
The conduct report also indicates “See Report of Investigation”. The report of investigation was
completed by Investigator Feldkamp, in which he reported about Williams and the other
offenders involved in the October 2, 2016 incident:
During the incident the above mentioned offenders were observed on facility
video in the HUN A-Unit bed area committing assault and battery upon each
other on the above mentioned date multiple times. As a direct result of the
investigation into the incident, having gained intelligence thou [sic] facility video,
interviews with both staff and offenders and offender communication services
(GTL and J-Pay), I could substantiate that the above mentioned offenders were
having a dispute concerning trafficking, theft of illegal contraband[,] and the
conspiracy to destroy states evidence by the removal of evidence from a crime
scene. The above mentioned offenders were uncooperative with the investigation
alleging that the assault was over a fan. The above mentioned offenders involved
were researched as participating in the assault and having taken part in cleaning
the area of A-Unit where the assault occurred. Additional investigation lead to the
discovery of contraband[;] contraband that was stolen from offender Eddy and
then later recovered in a targeted search of offender Jones #220226 (cell phone).
Facility video reviewed also produced the brandishing of a weapon during the
incident by offender Williams. As a result of additional targeted searching in A
and B units in North Dorm three hundred dollars worth of illegal drugs
(Suboxone) and a shank was recovered and are believed to be the weapon
observed in the video. There is also substantiated case reports to support the
allegations provided in this report. The cases are maintained in the I&I Office and
are confidential in nature. Case’s [sic] 16-IYC-0145, 16-IYC-0159.
The conduct report and investigation reports were based on the findings of in-depth internal
affairs investigations into Williams’ activities.
On November 1, 2016, Williams was notified of the charge participation in criminal gang
and served with a copy of the conduct report and a copy of the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing
“Screening Report.” Williams was notified of his rights and pleaded not guilty. He requested
witnesses, including, among others, Investigator Feldkamp. He also requested “case #16-IYC0145 + 16-IYC-0159[,] GTL and JPay notes[,] and Description of offender in video w/weapon.”
On November 29, 2016, the disciplinary hearing officer (“DHO”) held a disciplinary
hearing in case IYC16-11-0008. Williams pleaded not guilty and provided the following
statement: “I was on this camp for 19 days from a level one, I don’t know any of these guys that
they say I’m talking to. I spent 5 days in intake and I was only in that dorm 5 days”. After
considering witness statements, Williams’ statement, staff reports, video review, and the I & I
case files, the DHO found Williams guilty of offense A-100 violating any federal/state/local law.
Due to the seriousness and nature of the offense as well as the degree to which the violation
disrupted /endangered the security of the facility, the DHO imposed the following sanctions: a
transfer to a more secure facility, 360 days in disciplinary segregation, 360 days’ lost earned
credit time, and demotion in credit class from class 1 to class 3.
Williams’s administrative appeals were denied and he filed the present petition for a writ
of habeas corpus.
Williams challenges the disciplinary action against him arguing that he was denied
evidence and the hearing officer was not impartial.
1. Denial of Evidence
Williams first argues he requested case files from 16-IYC-0145 and 16-IYC-0159, which
included GTL and JPay communications, as evidence and this evidence was not presented at his
disciplinary hearing. He states that this evidence would show that he never talked to the
individuals involved in trafficking.
Due process requires “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). In the prison disciplinary
context, “the purpose of the [this] rule is to insure that the disciplinary board considers all of the
evidence relevant to guilt or innocence and to enable the prisoner to present his or her best
defense.” Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted). Evidence is exculpatory if it undermines or
contradicts the finding of guilty, see id., and it is material if disclosing it creates a “reasonable
probability” of a different result. Toliver v. McCaughtry, 539 F.3d 766, 780-81 (7th Cir. 2008).
Further, prison officials may base a disciplinary conviction on evidence that is kept confidential
to maintain the safety of the witnesses and the security of the facility. Jones, 637 F.3d at 847-49;
Rasheed-Bey v. Duckworth, 969 F.2d 357, 361-62 (7th Cir. 1992). When prison administrators
believe a valid justification exists to withhold evidence, “‘due process requires that the district
court conduct an in camera review’ to assess whether the undisclosed [evidence] is exculpatory.”
Johnson v. Brown, 681 Fed. Appx. 494, 497 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Piggie v. Cotton, 344 F.3d
674, 679 (7th Cir. 2003)).
First, Williams’s statement that the case files requested were not considered is not
supported by the record. The Report of Disciplinary Hearing states that the hearing officer
considered “II Case File” The GTL and Jpay records are part of confidential file 16-IYC-0145.
Williams therefore has not shown that he was denied evidence.
Next, the respondent argues that these files must be kept confidential to protect the
identity of confidential witnesses and to prevent Williams and his fellow inmates from being able
to analyze the prison’s investigative techniques. These are appropriate security reasons to
maintain the confidentiality of this evidence. See Wolff, 418 U.S. at 566; Jones, 637 F.3d at 848
(explaining that prohibiting disclosure of surveillance video to prisoners is justified because
allowing them to learn the location and capabilities of the surveillance system could allow them
to exploit any deficiencies). The Court finds no error in maintaining the confidentiality of these
Finally, the Court has reviewed the internal affairs files. Nothing in these files can be
deemed exculpatory with regard to the charge of participation in gang activity.
In short, Williams has not shown that he was denied exculpatory evidence in violation of
his due process rights.
2. Impartial Decision-maker
Williams also argues that he was denied an impartial decision-maker. He states that the
officer who reviewed the video, who was also the DHO, demonstrated bias because he used the
word “attempt” in describing the incident on the video and because the review was not written up
like a conduct report.
A prisoner in a disciplinary action has the right to be heard before an impartial
decisionmaker. Hill, 472 U.S. at 454. A “sufficiently impartial” decisionmaker is necessary in
order to shield the prisoner from the arbitrary deprivation of his liberties. Gaither v. Anderson,
236 F.3d 817, 820 (7th Cir. 2000) (per curiam). Hearing officers “are entitled to a presumption
of honesty and integrity” absent clear evidence to the contrary. Piggie, 342 F.3d at 666; see
Perotti v. Marberry, 355 Fed. Appx. 39, 43 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S.
35, 47 (1975)). Indeed, the “the constitutional standard for impermissible bias is high,” and
hearing officers “are not deemed biased simply because they presided over a prisoner’s previous
disciplinary proceeding” or because they are employed by the IDOC. Piggie, 342 F.3d at 666.
Instead, hearing officers are impermissibly biased when, for example, they are “directly or
substantially involved in the factual events underlying the disciplinary charges, or in the
investigation thereof.” Id. at 667.
There is no evidence that the hearing officer was directly involved in the events
underlying the charge or the investigation. There is also no evidence that the hearing officer was
related to anyone involved in the incident. Finally, the wording the hearing officer used in
describing the incident is not enough to show that the hearing officer was impermissibly biased.
“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 Mr. Williams to the relief
he seeks. Accordingly, Mr. Williams’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.
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
WESTVILLE - CF
WESTVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
5501 South 1100 West
WESTVILLE, IN 46391
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?