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Stone-Bey v. Barnes

July 22, 1997

LORENZO L. STONE-BEY,

PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

JOHN BARNES,

DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No. 93 C 198 Allen Sharp, Chief Judge.

Before CUDAHY, FLAUM, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

ROVNER, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED APRIL 11, 1997

DECIDED JULY 22, 1997

Lorenzo Stone-Bey is an inmate at Indiana State Prison who was found guilty by hearing officer John Barnes of threatening another inmate. Based upon that finding, Barnes sentenced Stone-Bey to a one-year term in disciplinary segregation. After his administrative appeals failed, Stone-Bey filed this action against Barnes and others under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983, seeking damages for alleged violations of his Fourteenth Amendment rights. After dismissing Stone-Bey's claims against the other defendants, the district court eventually entered summary judgment for Barnes, finding that Stone-Bey had not established that his segregation sentence produced an "atypical and significant hardship" under the Supreme Court's decision in Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S. Ct. 2293, 2300 (1995). Stone-Bey v. Barnes, 913 F. Supp. 1226 (N.D. Ind. 1996). Stone-Bey appeals only that portion of the judgment here, arguing that his sentence of disciplinary segregation did impose an "atypical and significant hardship" under Sandin. Although we find that judgment was properly entered for Barnes, we reach that conclusion without resolving the Sandin issue. We instead conclude that Stone-Bey cannot currently maintain this action under section 1983 because he has not complied with the requirements of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), as extended to prison disciplinary proceedings in Edwards v. Balisok, 117 S. Ct. 1584 (1997). Because under Heck and Edwards, Stone-Bey's claims are not yet cognizable under section 1983, they must be dismissed without prejudice.

I.

Prison investigator Karl Swihart received a report that on April 20, 1993, inmate Stone-Bey had threatened to have inmate Raymond Bowens "eliminated" if Bowens did not satisfy an outstanding debt owed to Stone-Bey. In investigating that report, Swihart interviewed Bowens, who told him that Stone-Bey had made the threat because Bowens owed Stone-Bey $75.00 on a drug debt. Swihart then gave Bowens a voice stress analysis test, which indicated that Bowens was not being deceptive in saying that Stone-Bey had threatened him. In the course of his investigation, Swihart also obtained a signed statement from another inmate who indicated that he had witnessed Stone-Bey's threat. Swihart then wrote the following summary of the investigation in his report:

Investigation has determined that several weeks ago offender Bowens purchased $75.00 worth of marijuana from offender Stone. Offender Bowens failed to pay offender Stone as they had previously arranged. On April 20, 1993 at approximately 7:30 p.m. while at recreation offender Stone approached Bowens and demanded his money. At that time Stone told Bowens in the presence of witnesses, that if he did not pay him that Stone would have Bowens eliminated. (R. 25, Ex. C-1.)

At the same time, Swihart prepared a conduct report charging Stone-Bey with violating a provision of the prison code by threatening Bowens. Stone-Bey was provided a copy of that conduct report along with notice of a disciplinary hearing to be held before the Conduct Adjustment Board.

Stone-Bey's hearing commenced on May 12, 1993, with defendant Barnes serving as the hearing officer. At Stone-Bey's request, the written statements of three inmates were read into the record, and Stone-Bey then testified on his own behalf. Later in the hearing, Barnes was told by another member of the prison's staff that Bowens had recanted his allegation, which prompted Stone-Bey to request dismissal of the charge. Barnes denied that request but continued the hearing until May 19.

When the hearing reconvened, Barnes found from a preponderance of the evidence that Stone-Bey had threatened Bowens. In a section of the Disciplinary Hearing Report headed "Finding of fact and evidence relied upon," Barnes wrote the following:

The conduct report, offender/lay advocate statement, investigative file ISP 93-061, witness statement have been reviewed for evidence. The preponderance of evidence indicates that the offender did threaten Bowen[s] per information from investigative report ISP 93-061. (R. 25, Ex. D.) *fn1

Having found Stone-Bey guilty of the "threatening" charge, Barnes imposed a sentence of one year in disciplinary segregation. Stone-Bey was serving a life sentence, but at the time, he had become eligible for a clemency hearing. As a result of the guilty finding on the "threatening" charge and the sentence of disciplinary segregation, however, Stone-Bey lost the opportunity for that hearing.

Stone-Bey appealed Barnes' decision to the prison superintendent and then to the Disciplinary Review Manager of the Indiana Department of Corrections. Both appeals failed, prompting Stone-Bey to file this action under section 1983. The suit was filed pro se and alleged various violations of Stone-Bey's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. Now represented by appointed counsel, Stone-Bey's initial complaint has been distilled into two related due process claims: (1) that the record is devoid of any reliable evidence supporting Barnes' finding of guilt ...


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