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-16-11-0197,
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-16-11-0197 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 marks
omitted). “[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. 2006). 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
PENDLETON - CIF
CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIAL FACILITY
Electronic Service Participant – Court Only
Marjorie H. Lawyer-Smith
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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