BOWYER v. WARDEN
ENTRY - DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT; Emilee Bowyer's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges her conviction in prison disciplinary case IWP 19-08-0005.There was no arbitrary action i n 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 Ms. Bowyer to the relief she seeks. Ms. Bowyer'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 10/14/2020. Copy Mailed.(CKM)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
ENTRY DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
AND DIRECTING ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT
Emilee Bowyer's petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenges her conviction in prison
disciplinary case IWP 19-08-0005. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Ms. Bowyer's petition
Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of good-time credits or of credit-earning
class without due process. Ellison v. Zatecky, 820 F.3d 271, 274 (7th Cir. 2016); Scruggs v. Jordan,
485 F.3d 934, 939 (7th Cir. 2007); see also Rhoiney v. Neal, 723 F. App'x 347, 348 (7th Cir. 2018).
The due process requirement is satisfied with: 1) the issuance of at least 24 hours advance written
notice of the charge; 2) a limited opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence to an impartial
decision-maker; 3) a written statement articulating the reasons for the disciplinary action and the
evidence justifying it; and 4) "some evidence in the record" to support the finding of guilt.
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454 (1985); see also Wolff v. McDonnell,
418 U.S. 539, 563-67 (1974).
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B. Disciplinary Proceeding
On August 2, 2019, Investigator Michele D. Miller-Clark wrote a conduct report charging
Ms. Bowyer with a violation of Code 247, possession or solicitation of unauthorized personal
This conduct report is based on information gathered during confidential case file
19-IWP-0029, Intelligence gathered through monitored calls, interviews, and other
forms of evidence to include but not limited to information extracted from camera
footage clearly indicates Offender Emilee Bowyer, 262506 did have unauthorized
personal information involving another offender Rachel Stegner, 269309
confidential telephone pin number. Details of these findings are on a need to know
basis and should not be disclosed to this offender to maintain the integrity of the
confidential case file. END of Report.
Dkt. 7-1. The confidential case file for 19-IWP-0029 was filed ex parte for the Court's review at
Ms. Bowyer was notified of the charge on August 5, 2019. Dkt. 7-2. She pled not guilty,
requested a lay advocate, did not request to call any witnesses, and requested the evidence from
the investigation. Id.
A disciplinary hearing was held on August 9, 2019, and Ms. Bowyer stated: "there is not
proof that I used this offender[']s phone." Dkt. 7-3. The disciplinary hearing officer (DHO)
considered the conduct report and found Ms. Bowyer guilty because she "used another offender[']s
telephone pin to complete calls." Id. Her sanctions included deprivation of 60-days' earned credit
Ms. Bowyer's appeals to the Facility Head and the Indiana Department of Correction
(IDOC) Final Reviewing Authority were unsuccessful. Dkt. 7-4; dkt. 7-5. Ms. Bowyer then filed
her petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Dkt. 1. The respondent filed
a return on March 6, 2020. Dkt. 7. Ms. Bowyer did not file a reply.
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Ms. Bowyer raises three grounds in her petition: (1) she received another conduct report
pertaining to this investigation, and that matter was set for a re-hearing; 1 (2) she was told at her
hearing that she was seen on camera on the telephone but the documents in the record show two
different dates; and (3) she did not receive a fair and impartial hearing. Dkt. 1 at 2-3.
The respondent argues that Ms. Bowyer failed to exhaust her administrative remedies as to
ground 1 and part of ground 2. Dkt. 7 at 5. First, the respondent contends Ms. Bowyer did not
argue in her appeals that her second case pertaining to this investigation was sent back for a
rehearing, and second, that Ms. Bowyer did not argue that she was confused about when the
telephone calls took place. Id.
Though the Court acknowledges the respondent's procedural arguments, the Court finds
that judicial efficiency will best be achieved by a merits review of the claims. In Lambrix v.
Singletary, 520 U.S. 518, 524 (1997), "the Supreme Court noted that its cases have 'suggest[ed]
that the procedural-bar issue should ordinarily be considered first.' Nevertheless, added the Court,
it did 'not mean to suggest that the procedural-bar issue must invariably be resolved first; only that
it ordinarily should be.'" Brown v. Watters, 599 F.3d 602, 609–10 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Lambrix, 520 U.S. at 525). Therefore, the Court will address Ms. Bowyer's first and second
grounds on their merits.
1. Ground 1: Re-hearing
Though Ms. Bowyer argues that her subsequent disciplinary conviction stemming from
The Court notes that Ms. Bowyer is referring to a conduct report charging her with another
violation of Code B-247 in disciplinary case IWP 19-08-0006. Dkt. 1. Ms. Bowyer has filed a
habeas petition regarding that disciplinary conviction that is also pending before this Court. See
case No. 1:20-cv-00037-JRS-TAB, Bowyer v. Warden (Ms. Bowyer was charged with possession
of unauthorized personal information of a former staff member).
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this underlying investigation was set for a re-hearing, it is of no consequence to the Court's decision
regarding her petition in this matter. Ms. Bowyer acknowledges the re-hearing was set due to
denial of a lay advocate. Dkt. 1. However, a prisoner in a disciplinary proceeding has no right to a
lay advocate unless the inmate is illiterate or the complexity of the issue makes it unlikely that the
inmate will be able to collect and present evidence. See Miller v. Duckworth, 963 F.2d 1002, 1004
(7th Cir. 1992) (citing Wolff, 418 U.S. at 571). Ms. Bowyer makes no such argument that these
circumstances are present, and the record reflects that neither are.
Accordingly, she is not entitled to habeas relief on this ground.
Ms. Bowyer argues that documentation in the record reflects different dates, specifically
when she was seen by the camera using the telephone calls in the dayroom Dkt. 1. She contends
that the documents reflect July 16, 2019 as a date of incident and then a date of August 2, 2019.
Id. The Court construes Ms. Bowyer's argument as one challenging adequate notice of the charge
against her. She argues that she "never received clarity as to which date was being referred to[.]"
Ms. Bowyer's argument fails. The confidential case file represents that an ongoing
investigation into Ms. Bowyer's unauthorized possession of another inmate's personal pin number
used to make telephone calls, her unauthorized possession of a former staff member's personal
information, and information regarding her telephone calls, spanned across a time frame of June
2019 to August 2, 2019 (the day her conduct report was written). Dkt. 8. Ms. Bowyer was notified
that she was charged with a Code 247 violation on August 5, 2019, based on information from an
investigation "through monitored calls, interviews, and other forms of evidence to include but not
limited to information extracted from camera footage" that established she possessed personal
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information belonging to Offender Rachel Stegner. Dkt. 7-1. The conduct report outlined exactly
what information Ms. Bowyer possessed, the other inmate's confidential telephone pin number. Id.
Ms. Bowyer's hearing occurred on August 9, 2019, four days after she received notice of her
charge. Dkt. 7-2; dkt. 7-3.
The Court finds that Ms. Bowyer was given more than 24 hours advanced written notice
of the hearing. The conduct report informed Ms. Bowyer of the violation and the facts underlying
the charge that enabled her to "marshal the facts and prepare a defense." Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564;
see also Northern v. Hanks, 326 F.3d 909, 910 (7th Cir. 2003).
Accordingly, Ms. Bowyer is not entitled to habeas relief on this ground.
3. Impartial decision maker
Ms. Bowyer argues that the DHO "made multiple attempts to consult other staff members
concerning my hearing including stopping the hearing at one point to speak with a superior." Dkt.
1 at 3. She contends that there were two other officers at the hearing who were in training. Id. One
of them whom she identifies as Officer Fernandez, had a conversation with the DHO; she alleges
the DHO said if she was not sanctioned appropriately it "would reflect poorly on him." Id.
A prisoner in a disciplinary action has the right to be heard before an impartial decision
maker. Hill, 472 U.S. at 454. However, hearing officers "are entitled to a presumption of honesty
and integrity" absent clear evidence to the contrary. Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir.
2003); see Perotti v Marberry, 355 F. App'x 39, 43 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Withrow v. Larkin, 421
U.S. 35, 47 (1975)). Moreover, 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 prison. Piggie, 342 F.3d at 666. The
presumption is overcome—and an inmate's right to an impartial decision maker is breached—in
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rare cases, such as when the hearing officer has been "directly or substantially involved in the
factual events underlying the disciplinary charges, or in the investigation thereof." Id. at 667.
Simply put, Ms. Bowyer has not presented clear evidence to overcome the presumption
that her hearing officer was impartial. Ms. Bowyer does not argue, and the record does not indicate,
that either of these officers present at the hearing or the superior the DHO consulted were involved
in the underlying investigation. There is no evidence that the DHO was directly or substantially
involved in the underlying investigation. There is no evidence in the record to support Ms.
Bowyer's assertion that the DHO made a statement regarding the severity of her sanctions or how
they impact him, other than her unsupported account. Taking as true that the DHO made the
statement, it was that Ms. Bowyer be "appropriately" sanctioned. Such a comment does not suggest
bias or partiality. The Court finds Ms. Bowyer's assertions do not overcome the presumption that
the DHO was impartial.
Accordingly, habeas relief on this ground is denied.
4. Sufficiency of the Evidence
The Court also addresses Ms. Bowyer's contention that she does not believe that camera
footage exists showing her on the telephone in the dayroom on July 16, 2019 or August 2, 2019.
Courts may not reweigh evidence already presented at a prison disciplinary hearing. Hill,
472 U.S. at 455-56 (courts will not reweigh the evidence in prison disciplinary cases); Scruggs,
485 F.3d at 941 (same). Challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence are governed by the "some
evidence" standard. "[A] hearing officer’s decision need only rest on 'some evidence' logically
supporting it and demonstrating that the result is not arbitrary." Ellison, 820 F.3d at 274; see
Eichwedel v. Chandler, 696 F.3d 660, 675 (7th Cir. 2012) ("The some evidence standard . . . is
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satisfied if there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the
disciplinary board.") (citation and quotation marks omitted). The "some evidence" standard is
much more lenient than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Moffat v. Broyles, 288 F.3d
978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002). "[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. The
conduct report "alone" can "provide[ ] 'some evidence' for the . . . decision." McPherson v.
McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999). Nonetheless, in a safeguard against arbitrary
revocation of an inmate's good-time credits, a court must "satisfy [itself] that the evidence the
board did rely on presented 'sufficient indicia of reliability.'" Meeks v. McBride, 81 F.3d 717, 720
(7th Cir. 1996). To challenge the reliability of evidence introduced during a prison disciplinary
hearing, there must be "some affirmative indication that a mistake may have been made." Webb v.
Anderson, 224 F.3d 649, 653 (7th Cir. 2000).
A violation of Code 247, in relevant part, is defined as "[p]ossessing or soliciting
unauthorized personal information regarding another offender . . . including . . . financial
information, or telephone numbers[.]" Dkt. 7-6 at 8. Ms. Bowyer's wondering if video evidence
exists—and her unsupported belief that it does not—is not a basis for habeas relief. Sufficient
evidence exists to meet the "some evidence" standard to support her conviction, including the
conduct report and the contents of the confidential case file that comprehensively detail the
investigation regarding her unauthorized possession of another inmate's confidential telephone pin
"The touchstone of due process is protection of the individual against arbitrary action of
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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 Ms. Bowyer to the relief she seeks.
Accordingly, Ms. Bowyer's petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action
Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
SARAH EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
INDIANA WOMENS PRISON
INDIANA WOMENS PRISON
727 Moon Road
Plainfield, IN 46168
Natalie Faye Weiss
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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