BAYLESS v. KNIGHT
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus - The petition of James Bayless for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. CIC-15-06-0065. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Bayless's habeas petition must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue. (See Entry.) Copy to petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 12/22/2016.(RSF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
RICHARD BROWN, Superintendent Wabash
Valley Correctional Facility,1
Case No. 2:15-cv-00279-WTL-MJD
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petition of James Bayless for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary
proceeding identified as No. CIC-15-06-0065. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Bayless’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.
Richard Brown, Superintendent of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, is substituted for the
Superintendent of the Correctional Industrial Facility, because Bayless is currently in Superintendent
Brown’s custody. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d); Rule 2(a) of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases.
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).
B. The Disciplinary Proceeding
At the time of the offense and disciplinary conviction, Bayless was incarcerated at the
Correctional Industrial Facility. On June 3, 2015, Internal Affairs Investigator John Poer wrote a
Report of Conduct charging Bayless with offenses A-111/113 attempted trafficking. The conduct
On May 5, 2015 an envelope containing a paperback book with 40 suboxone strips
hidden in the spine of the book was intercepted at the mail search area. An
investigation into the attempt to traffic a controlled substance was launched.
Information obtained during this investigation indicates that offender James
Bayless 156701 10A-3D participated in the delivery of the package containing the
Suboxone strips. Offender Bayless is in violation of Class A 111/113 Attempting
to Traffic with an Offender.
An Incident Report with substantially the same wording as the conduct report was also written up.
Bayless was charged with violating prison rules by attempting to traffic.
On June 5, 2015, Bayless was notified of the charge of attempted trafficking (A-111/113)
and served with a copy of the conduct report and the screening report. Bayless was notified of his
rights and pleaded not guilty. He did not request a lay advocate, witnesses, or physical evidence.
Bayless also waived 24 hours’ advance notice of the disciplinary hearing.
A disciplinary hearing was held on June 10, 2015 in case CIC 15-06-0065. Bayless pleaded
not guilty and provided the following statement: “I never made a phone call or knew anything
about it.” The disciplinary hearing officer (“DHO”) found Bayless guilty of attempted trafficking.
In making this determination, the DHO considered staff reports and the Internal Affairs
Investigation Report (Ex-Parte; Sealed; Dkt. 12). Due to the frequency/nature of the offense and
the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective effect on the offender’s future behavior, the
hearing officer imposed the following sanctions: a written reprimand, 45 days’ lost phone
privileges, 90 days’ disciplinary segregation, 190 days’ lost earned credit time (ECT) (later
reduced to 180 days’ ECT lost), and a demotion from credit class one to credit class two.
Bayless appealed the disciplinary action to the Superintendent on June 12, 2015. The
appeal was denied on June 23, 2015. Bayless’s appeal to the final reviewing authority for the
Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) was denied on July 13, 2015.
Bayless’s habeas petition raises two grounds for relief. First, he argues that he had no
knowledge of contraband being sent to him through the mail. He states that he does not receive
visits, rarely gets money, talks only to one person on the phone and receives mail only from his
mom and wife (who is also in prison). Second, Bayless contends that his mail should not have
been opened and the suboxone discovered. He states that no warrant was obtained to open his legal
mail and that his mail was not opened in front of them. Bayless asks that the conduct report and
sanctions be dismissed due to the prison officials’ failure to follow prison mail procedures.
Bayless’s first ground for relief attacks the sufficiency of the evidence. The “some
evidence” standard is lenient, “requiring only that the decision not be arbitrary or without support
in the record.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999). A rational adjudicator
could readily conclude from the fact that the package with contraband was sent to Bayless that
Bayless was attempting to traffic that contraband into the prison. Henderson v. United States
Parole Comm’n, 13 F.3d 1073, 1077 (7th Cir. 1993) (a federal habeas court “will overturn the . . .
[conduct board’s] decision only if no reasonable adjudicator could have found . . . [the petitioner]
guilty of the offense on the basis of the evidence presented”), cert. denied, 115 S. Ct. 314 (1994);
see also Hill, 472 U.S. at 457 (“The Federal Constitution does not require evidence that logically
precludes any conclusion but the one reached by the disciplinary board.”). This conclusion is
further supported by the thorough investigation report.
Bayless further argues that his legal mail should never have been opened without a warrant
and outside his presence. These claims were are procedurally defaulted because they were not
raised during the administrative appeals process as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1)(A), (c).
“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 Bayless to the relief he seeks.
Accordingly, Bayless’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.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
DOC # 156701
WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
6908 S. Old US Hwy 41
P.O. Box 1111
CARLISLE, IN 47838
All Electronically Registered Counsel
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