EISEMAN v. KNIGHT
Entry Discussing Need for Evidentiary Hearing or Vacation of Disciplinary Sanctions - The respondent has through November 21, 2017, in which to inform the Court how this action should proceed. If a hearing is necessary, the Court will appoint counsel, schedule the hearing, and set discovery deadlines by separate order. See entry for details. Signed by Judge Sarah Evans Barker on 11/6/2017. (MEJ)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
JAMES EISEMAN CIC-16-11-0196,
Entry Discussing Need for Evidentiary Hearing or Vacation of Disciplinary Sanctions
Petitioner James Eiseman seeks a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
His petition challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as CIC 16-11-0196 in which
he was found guilty of engaging in an unauthorized financial transaction. He raises multiple
grounds for relief, only one of which is discussed in this Entry.
Prior to a prison disciplinary proceeding, 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
“[T]he 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).
Mr. Eiseman argues that during the screening process he requested but was not provided
video evidence that would prove his innocence because, he says, the video would reveal that
another inmate was the one who engaged in the unauthorized financial transactions at issue. The
respondent maintains that the Screening Report shows that Mr. Eiseman did not request video
evidence at screening. The respondent also submits a declaration from the screening officer
stating that Mr. Eiseman did not request video evidence. But, in reply, Mr. Eiseman maintains
that he requested video evidence at screening; he states that he was screened for twenty-five
disciplinary charges on the same day, all of which charged him with engaging in an unauthorized
financial transaction, and that he requested video evidence in all of them. To the extent the
Screening Report does not reflect that, he says, it is because the screening officer did not write
his request down.
In arguing that Mr. Eiseman should be denied relief, the respondent focuses on the fact
that there is no record that Mr. Eiseman made a request for the video evidence at screening. But
Mr. Eiseman’s petition—which is sworn under penalty of perjury—constitutes evidence that he
did make such a request. Thus there is a dispute of material fact regarding whether Mr. Eiseman
requested the video evidence at screening. “[W]hen a prisoner who seeks a writ of habeas
corpus provides competent evidence (such as an affidavit by someone with personal knowledge
of the events) contradicting an assertion by the prison disciplinary board on a material question
of fact pertinent to an issue of constitutional law, the district court must hold an evidentiary
hearing to determine where the truth lies.” Johnson v. Finnan, 467 F.3d 693, 694 (7th Cir.
Notably, the respondent did not argue that the allegedly requested video was not
exculpatory (and thus did not need to be provided) or that the error was otherwise harmless.
Therefore, the Court must hold a hearing to resolve this factual dispute.
The respondent could obviate the need for a hearing if she vacated the disciplinary
proceedings at issue in this action and the corresponding sanctions. Otherwise the Court will set
this matter for an evidentiary hearing on the question outlined above and appoint counsel for Mr.
Eiseman. See Rule 8 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases (“If an evidentiary hearing is
warranted, the judge must appoint an attorney to represent a petitioner who qualifies to have
counsel appointed under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A.”). The respondent has through November 21,
2017, in which to inform the Court how this action should proceed. If a hearing is necessary, the
Court will appoint counsel, schedule the hearing, and set discovery deadlines by separate order.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
Electronic Service Participant – Court Only
Electronically registered counsel
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