WASHINGTON v. BROWN
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Directing Entry of Final Judgment - The petition of Dominique Washington for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVS 15-07-0012. For the reasons explained in this entry, Washington's habeas petition must be denied and the action dismissed.(See Entry.) Copy to petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge Larry J. McKinney on 5/5/2017.(RSF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
) Case No. 2:16-cv-0070-LJM-DKL
Entry Denying Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
and Directing Entry of Final Judgment
The petition of Dominique Washington for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a
prison disciplinary proceeding identified as No. WVS 15-07-0012. For the reasons
explained in this entry, Washington’s habeas petition must be denied.
Prisoners in Indiana custody may not be deprived of credit time, Cochran v. Buss,
381 F.3d 637, 639 (7th Cir. 2004), 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
B. The Disciplinary Proceeding
On July 29, 2015, IA J. Poer wrote a Report of Conduct in case WVS 15-070012 charging Mr. Washington with a violation of law (I.C. 35-45-9-3, Criminal Gang
Activity). The Conduct Report states:
Refer to Report of Investigation dated 7/29/15 and Confidential Case File
The Report of Investigation of Incident states:
On July 16, 2015 members of the Security Threat Groups Maniac
Latin Disciples and Imperial Gangsters assaulted offender Steven Lasley
247353 and Christopher Hibshman 179351 in B Unit cell 2-4B at 8:53 PM.
Both Lasley and Hibshman are confirmed members of the Security Threat
Group Dirty White Boys. An investigation was conducted, see Confidential
Case File 15-CIC-0020. The results of the investigation substantiate that
members of the STG Maniac Latin Disciples and Imperial Gangsters were
acting under orders when they assaulted the Dirty White Boys Lasley and
Hibshman. The reason for the assault was retribution against the Dirty
White Boys for stealing a package of suboxone that a member of the Maniac
Latin Disciples had lost at recreation. I.C. 35-45-9-3 Criminal Gang Activity
is defined as “A person who knowingly or intentionally commits an act: (1)
with the intent to benefit, promote or further the interests of a criminal gang;
or (2) for the purpose of increasing the person’s own standing or position
within a criminal gang; commits criminal gang activity, a Level 6 felony.”
Dominique Washington 244317 is a suspected member of the STG Maniac
Latin Disciples and was acting with the intent to benefit, promote or further
the interests of a criminal gang, to wit assaulting members of the Dirty White
Boys as retribution for stealing and thereby disrespecting his organization.
On July 31, 2015, Mr. Washington was notified of the charge and was given a copy
of the Conduct Report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing “Screening Report.” He was
notified of his rights and pled not guilty. He did not request a lay advocate. He checked
the box that he did not request any witnesses but in the empty space below included the
names Lasley and Hibshman with the statement “I did not assault anyone.” He did not
request any physical evidence. [Dkt. 6-3].
Offender Lasley provided the statement: “I don’t know anything about this, I didn’t
see this person do anything wrong!” [Dkt. 6-4]. Offender Hibshman provided the
statement: “There was no gang activity going on.” [Dkt. 6-5].
The hearing officer conducted a disciplinary hearing in case WVS 15-07-0012 on
August 7, 2015. At the hearing Mr. Washington provided the following statement: “I am
not in the gang, no tattoos.” [Dkt. 6-7].
The hearing officer found Mr. Washington guilty of the charge of violation of law
(criminal gang activity). In making this determination, the hearing officer considered the
staff reports and physical evidence consisting of the IA case # 15-CIC-0020. [Dkts. 6-7;
8, ex parte]. Based on the hearing officer’s recommendations the following sanctions were
imposed: a written reprimand; forty-five (45) days of lost phone privileges; one year of
disciplinary segregation; 227 days of credit time deprivation; and a demotion from credit
class 2 to credit class 3. The hearing officer recommended the sanctions because of the
frequency and nature of the offense and the likelihood of the sanction having a corrective
effect on the offender’s future behavior. [Dkt. 6-7].
Mr. Washington’s appeals were denied. This habeas action followed.
Mr. Washington is not entitled to habeas relief because he was afforded due
process. He asserts the following claims: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support a
guilty finding; 2) he was not given time to prepare a proper defense; and 3) the Indiana
Department of Correction’s employees slandered him when they associated him with a
Security Threat Group.
As an initial matter, Mr. Washington references the disciplinary proceeding in case
CIC 15-07-0174 in the petition filed in this action. [Dkt. 1-1, at pp. 1, 14]. However, the
subject of this action is case number WVS 15-07-0012. As such, the Court will not be
addressing any claims relating to CIC 15-07-0174.
In ground one, Mr. Washington argues there is no physical evidence
showing he committed this offense. The Court understands this to be a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. In a prison disciplinary proceeding, the standard is that a
verdict of guilt must be supported by at least “some evidence.” Hill, 472 U.S. at 454. The
“some evidence” evidentiary standard in this type of case is much more lenient than
“beyond a reasonable doubt” or even “by a preponderance.” See Moffat v. Broyles, 288
F.3d 978, 981 (7th Cir. 2002) (hearing officer in prison disciplinary case “need not show
culpability beyond a reasonable doubt or credit exculpatory evidence.”). The “some
evidence” standard requires “only that the decision not be arbitrary or without support in
the record.” McPherson v. McBride, 188 F.3d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1999).
The Internal Affairs Investigation contained interviews with over forty offenders that
reported the attacks on Lasley and Hibshman took place based on a “Smash on Sight”
order for all Dirty White Boys (of which Lasley and Hibshman are members) after they
stole suboxone from the Maniac Latin Disciples. The evidence showed that Washington
is a suspected member of the Maniac Latin Disciples and participated in the attacks of
Lasley and Hibshman by using a lock inside a sock. [Dkt. 8, ex parte]. This evidence is
sufficient to find Mr. Washington guilty of criminal gang activity. He acted on orders from
the Maniac Latin Disciples to assault members of another gang in retaliation for stolen
drugs. Mr. Washington is not entitled to relief on this basis.
In ground two, Mr. Washington argues that he was not given time to prepare
a defense. 1 This argument is without merit. The incident that forms the basis of the
conduct report occurred on July 16, 2015. Washington was screened on July 31, 2015,
and a disciplinary hearing occurred on August 7, 2015. [Dkts. 6-2, 6-3, 6-7]. Due process
requires that a prisoner charged with a disciplinary offense be given “advance written
notice of the charges against [him] at least twenty-four hours before the hearing.”
Henderson v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 13 F.3d 1073, 1077 (7th Cir.1994) (citing Hill, 472
U.S. at 454, and Wolff, 418 U.S. at 566)). Mr. Washington received all the process he
was due in this regard.
Finally, Mr. Washington argues IDOC’s officials slandered him and placed him
at risk when they associated him with a Security Threat Group. However, such a claim
does not state a due process violation. Due process requires 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.
Hill, 472 U.S. at 454. Mr. Washington received all of the protections he was due and is
not entitled to relief on this claim.
The respondent wholly failed to respond to the arguments set forth in grounds 2 and 3 of the petition. See
dkt. 1, at p. 3. In the future, the respondent should ensure that he responds to all claims set forth by the
“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 Mr. Washington to the relief he seeks. Accordingly, Mr. Washington’s petition for
a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
LARRY J. McKINNEY, JUDGE
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
Marjorie H. Lawyer-Smith
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
WABASH VALLEY - CF
WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
6908 S. Old US Hwy 41
P.O. Box 1111
CARLISLE, IN 47838
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