SHIELDS v. SMITH
ENTRY: Accordingly, Shield's petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. The petitioner's motion for ruling [dkt. 18] is granted. Judgment dismissing this action consistent with this Entry shall now issue ***SEE ENTRY FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION***. Copy sent to Petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 11/4/2016.(DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petition of Troy Shields for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary
proceeding identified as No. JCU 15-08-0015. For the reasons explained in this Entry, Shields’
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.
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).
Shields brings the current action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging a prison
disciplinary conviction for class B-247 solicitation of unauthorized personal information after a
hearing that took place at the Edinburgh Correctional Facility.
B. The Disciplinary Proceeding
On August 16, 2015, Correctional Officer Young issued a Report of Conduct charging Shields
with solicitation of unauthorized personal information in violation of Code B-247. The Report of
[Ineligible] Incident Offender Shields Troy DOC #145960 ask[ed] me C/O Young
if I would get him a p.o. box so he could write me[.] I told [him do] not ask again[.
O]n 8-15-15 I Ofc Young was posted in C- Dorm when app[roached] by Offender
Shields Troy ask[ed] again about p.o. box which time again I said no[. O]n 8-1615 I told Sergeant Behmlander about the issue.
Shields was notified of the charge the same day when he was served with the Report of Conduct
and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. The Screening Officer noted that Shields did not want to
call any witnesses or request any evidence and that Shields decided to plead guilty to the offense.
The disciplinary hearing was completed the same day with the Screening Officer serving as
the Hearing Officer because Shields pled guilty and waived hearing notice. The Hearing Officer
noted that Shields stated that he “was sorry.” After Shields pled guilty, the Hearing Officer found
that Shields violated Code B-247. The sanctions included a written reprimand, the deprivation of
60 days of earned credit time, and the demotion from credit class I to class II. The Hearing Officer
imposed the sanctions because of the seriousness of the offense and the degree to which the
violation disrupted or endangered the security of the facility.
Shields filed an appeal to the Facility Head, which was denied. Shields then appealed to the
Final Review Authority, who denied the appeal on September 28, 2015.
C. Proposed Grounds for Relief
Shields raises three issues in his petition. First, he argues that he is entitled to relief because
his conduct report was issued on an old state form that had been revised. Shields states that because
this form was used, a shift supervisor did not review or sign off on the report. Shields states that
had a supervisor reviewed the conduct report, the outcome of this case would have been different.
Next, Shields states that the Screening Officer coerced him and promised him things.
Specifically the Screening Officer promised that if Shields waived his rights and 24 hour notice that
sanctions imposed would be easier and that he would not be transferred to another facility. Shields
states that he was told to place his initials next to his rights and that he did not understand how
waiving his rights could affect the outcome of this case.
Finally, Shields argues that he did not have an impartial Hearing Officer because the
Screening Officer conducted the screening, hearing and approval of sanctions. Most concerning to
Shields is the fact that the sanctions imposed were allegedly not approved of by a higher authority.
The respondent argues that Shields did not appeal his concern that the conduct report had
been written on an old form, nor did he state that he was coerced into pleading guilty. Shields argues
in response that respondent’s exhibits D and E demonstrate that he did appeal these grounds by
stating “policies and procedures not followed correctly” and “extortion” “deceit” in his appeals. But
the these words are insufficient to put the defendants on notice of Shields’ concerns regarding the
form used and that he felt coerced into pleading guilty.
The respondent is correct. Because Shields did not raise these arguments during his
administrative appeals (Exs. D, E), he has now waived them. An offender’s failure to properly
exhaust his claims in the state administrative process means the claims are procedurally defaulted.
Eads v. Hanks, 280 F.3d 728, 729 (7th Cir. 2002).
In addition, the use of the wrong form could not have violated Shields’ rights. The sanctions
imposed were reviewed and affirmed on appeal. Similarly, Shields does not explain with any
particularity in the course of his appeal or in this habeas action what the Screening Officer said or
did which suggests that Shields was coerced into pleading guilty.
E. Unbiased Decision Maker
Shields’ final claim is that he was denied an unbiased decision maker because the Screening
Officer also served as the Hearing Officer who imposed the sanctions. In reply, Shields affirms that
the issue is not that the Screening Officer held the hearing, but that the Hearing Officer approved
his own sanctions. He states that this “clearly has procedural errors and is not impartial to the
offender rights.” Dkt. 13 at p. 4. But the sanctions were reviewed and affirmed on appeal. An
independent review of the sanctions was in fact undertaken.
In addition, as the respondent points out, Shields has not made any showing that the
Screening Officer was in any way actually biased against him or that the guilty finding or sanctions
would have been different with another Hearing Officer. See Jones v. Cross, 637 F.3d 841, 847 (7th
Cir. 2011) (employing harmless error analysis to due process error in disciplinary proceeding);
Piggie v. Cotton, 342 F.3d 660, 666 (7th Cir. 2003) (without a showing of prejudice claim of due
process violation failed).
“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 Shields to the relief he seeks.
Accordingly, Shield’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed.
The petitioner’s motion for ruling [dkt. 18] is granted. Judgment dismissing this action
consistent with this Entry shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
TROY SHIELDS, DOC # 145960
PUTNAMVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
1946 West U.S. Hwy 40
Greencastle, IN 46135
All Electronically Registered Counsel
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