SUTTON v. SUPERINTENDENT
Entry Dismissing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. The respondent has filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the challenged disciplinary proceeding and the sanctions resulting there from have been vacated, making this action moot. For the reason s set forth below, the respondent's motion to dismiss, Dkt. 13 , is granted and this action is dismissed as moot. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue Motions terminated: 13 MOTION to Dismiss Petition as Moot filed by SUPERINTENDENT. (Copy to Petitioner via U.S. Mail) Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 8/28/2017. (JDC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
Entry Dismissing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus challenging a prison disciplinary proceeding,
IYC 17-02-0018. The respondent has filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the challenged
disciplinary proceeding and the sanctions resulting therefrom have been vacated, making this
action moot. For the reasons set forth below, the respondent’s motion to dismiss, Dkt. No.13, is
granted and this action is dismissed as moot.
The petitioner was subject to disciplinary proceeding IYC 17-02-0018, in which he was
found guilty of possession or use of a cellular phone. His sanctions included a deprivation of
earned credit time and a credit class demotion. He filed the instant petition for a writ of habeas
corpus on May 10, 2017. While the instant case was pending, the Indiana Department of
Correction final reviewing authority, on August 9, 2017, vacated the petitioner’s disciplinary
conviction and sanctions and designated the case for re-hearing.
“A case becomes moot when it no longer presents a case or controversy under Article III,
Section 2 of the Constitution.” Eichwedel v. Curry, 700 F.3d 275, 278 (7th Cir. 2012). “In general
a case becomes moot when the issues presented are no longer live or the parties lack a legally
cognizable interest in the outcome.” Id. (citation and quotation marks omitted). A federal court
may issue a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 only if it finds the applicant “is in
custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2254(a) (emphasis added). Therefore, a habeas action becomes moot if the Court can no longer
“affect the duration of [the petitioner’s] custody.” White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 763
(7th Cir. 2001).
The petitioner opposes the motion to dismiss, arguing that this disciplinary case has already
been through one re-hearing and the delay caused by another will make it more difficult for him
to present evidence in his defense. While the Court is not unsympathetic to the petitioner’s
concerns about delay, once an action is moot this Court lacks jurisdiction to render a decision.
Here, the petitioner’s conviction and sanctions were vacated, and thus there is not currently a
disciplinary conviction in effect that affects the duration of his custody. In these circumstances,
this Court does not have a legal basis to forbid the respondent from setting the disciplinary case
for another re-hearing.
The petitioner also raises the concern that, if he is convicted again, his double jeopardy
right will be violated. But the Seventh Circuit has held that “double jeopardy protections do not
attach in prison disciplinary proceedings.” Portee v. Vannatta, 105 Fed. Appx. 855, 858 (7th Cir.
2004); Singleton v. Page, 202 F.3d 274, 1999 WL 1054594, *2 (7th Cir. 1999) (“Prison discipline,
however, does not constitute ‘punishment’ or ‘prosecution’ for double jeopardy purposes.” (citing
Garrity v. Fiedler, 41 F.3d 1150, 1151-52 (7th Cir. 1994))); see also Meeks v. McBride, 81 F.3d
717, 722 (7th Cir. 1996). Even if double jeopardy protections applied to prison disciplinary
proceedings, this Court has no legal basis to protect him from such violations that may or may not
happen in the future. Any such challenge would have to be brought in a new habeas action
challenging any subsequent prison disciplinary convictions.
In sum, given that the disciplinary case and resulting sanctions challenged in this action
have been vacated, the petitioner’s habeas action is moot. See White, 266 F.3d at 763. An action
which is moot must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. See Diaz v. Duckworth, 143 F.3d 345,
347 (7th Cir. 1998).
Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Andrea Elizabeth Rahman
OFFICE OF THE INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
PLAINFIELD - CF
PLAINFIELD CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
727 MOON ROAD
PLAINFIELD, IN 46168
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