MCDERMITT v. SMITH
ENTRY Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus - Accordingly, McDermitt's petition for a writ of habeas corpus must be denied and the action dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Entry shall now issue (SEE ENTRY). Copy sent to Petitioner via US Mail. Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 5/23/2017.(DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
Case No. 2:16-cv-00113-WTL-MJD
Entry Discussing Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The petition of Clayton McDermitt for a writ of habeas corpus challenges a prison
disciplinary proceeding identified as No. ISF16-02-0315. For the reasons explained in this Entry,
McDermitt’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.
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
On February 4, 2016, Correctional Officer T. White wrote a Report of Conduct that charged
McDermitt with Attempting an Unauthorized Financial Transaction. The Conduct Report states:
On 2-4-2016 at approximately 1020 hrs. while listening to recorded calls, I heard
the following conversation.
On 2-3-2016 at approximately 1250 hrs Offender Clayton McDermitt DOC
#157037 called 260 316 3549 from offender phone 17NA-2 on a prepaid call and
was talking to a female. At approximately 0634 into conversation offender
McDermitt said, “Listen 945.” She replied, “Hold on.” At approximately 0652 into
call he stated “945 0394.” She replied “Ok.” At approx.. 0700 into call he said
“That’s[sic] cell phone number. Give her 100 gonna get it on commissary list she
aint on my visit list she gonna figure how to put it on my books.”
Dkt. 80-1 (Exhibit A).
Department of Correction rules establish limits on the sources of funds to inmates.
Offenders may only receive funds from immediate family or friends who are on the offender’s
On February 17, 2016, McDermitt was notified of the disciplinary charge when he was
served with the Conduct Report and the Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. McDermitt was notified
of his rights, pleaded not guilty, and requested a lay advocate, who was provided. McDermitt did
not request any witnesses or physical evidence.
The hearing officer conducted the disciplinary hearing in ISF16-02-0315 on February 19,
2016. McDermitt’s comment was “just trying to get some Comm[issary].” The hearing officer
found McDermitt guilty of the charge of Attempting an Unauthorized Financial Transaction. In
making this determination, the hearing officer considered staff reports and McDermitt’s statement,
and evidence from witnesses. The reason for the decision was “H/O believes conduct report to be
true and factual, finds preponderance of evidence.” The sanctions included an earned credit time
deprivation of 30 days, and imposition of suspended sanctions from a previous case, which were
a 90-day loss of earned credit time and demotion from Credit Class 1 to Credit Class 2. The hearing
officer imposed the sanctions because of the seriousness of the offense and the degree to which
the violation disrupted/endangered the security of the facility.
McDermitt filed an appeal to the Facility Head on February 21, 2016. The Facility Head
denied the appeal on March 8, 2016. McDermitt appealed to the Final Reviewing Authority, who
denied his appeal by letter dated March 23, 2016. This petition for writ of habeas corpus followed.
McDermitt brings a petition for habeas relief on the grounds that 1) the hearing officer did
not conduct an investigation as required by DOC policy and procedures, and 2) DOC has not
provided any way to tie up old business from family and friends. Noticeably absent is any argument
or evidence which suggests that McDermitt was denied due process during the course of his
McDermitt’s first ground for relief is that the hearing officer violated DOC policy by
failing to conduct an investigation. This claim fails because violations of DOC policies are not
cognizable in federal habeas corpus actions. Estelle v. McGuire, 502 U.S. 62, 67-68 (1991) (federal
habeas relief is only available for violations of U.S. Constitution or other federal laws); Hester v.
McBride, 966 F. Supp. 765, 774-75 (N.D. Ind. 1997).
McDermitt’s second ground for relief is also without merit. McDermitt claims that the
DOC does not provide any way to tie up old business from family and friends. Here, McDermitt
was subject to discipline because he attempted to engage in an unauthorized financial transaction
with someone who was not on his Visitor’s List. Department of Correction rules establish limits
on the sources of funds to inmates. The only individuals from whom an offender may receive funds
are immediate family or friends who are on the offender’s Visitors’ List. McDermitt’s due process
rights were not violated in the application of this DOC policy to him during the disciplinary
proceeding. No relief is warranted on this basis.
“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 McDermitt to the relief he seeks.
Accordingly, McDermitt’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
PUTNAMVILLE - CF
PUTNAMVILLE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
1946 West U.S. Hwy 40
Greencastle, IN 46135
All Electronically Registered Counsel
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