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McATEE v. McADORY

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois


June 6, 2005.

RONNIE L. McATEE, Petitioner,
v.
EUGENE M. McADORY, Respondent.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES FOREMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Wilkerson, (Doc. 39), recommending that petitioner's amended petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, (Doc. 34), be denied. The Clerk of the Court has informed the parties of their right to file objections and of the consequences of not doing so in a timely fashion. Petitioner has filed objections, (Doc. 41), thus, this Court shall conduct a de novo review of the motion. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). All rights to appeal have been waived with respect to portions of the report and recommendation to which no objections were filed. Lorenzten v. Anderson Pest Control, 64 F.3d 327, 330 (7th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1136 (1996).

Petitioner Ronnie L. McAtee has filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 to challenge the loss of good time credit that resulted from eleven prison disciplinary proceedings. These hearings occurred from April 29, 1998, to August 13, 1998, and involved various infractions that resulted in a loss of 37 months of good time credit.

  After receiving these disciplinary reports, petitioner filed grievances. Thereafter, the Administrative Review Board, (ARB), reviewed the disciplinary reports, and found that it was "reasonably satisfied that the inmate committed the infractions." Accordingly, the ARB recommended that the grievances be denied. Petitioner then filed a complaint with the Circuit Court in Livingston County, Illinois. This complaint was dismissed for failure to state a cause of action, and petitioner appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court which affirmed the dismissal. The Illinois Supreme Court denied leave to appeal.

  Petitioner claims that he was denied substantive and procedural due process during the disciplinary committee hearings because: (1) the disciplinary decisions were not supported by reasoned written records, (2) the disciplinary committee's findings were contrary to the evidence, (3) the disciplinary committee arbitrarily disregarded certain evidence, and (4) no reasoning was given for the disciplinary actions that were taken. The Court has conducted a de novo review of each of the eleven disciplinary reports about which petitioner complains. Upon review, the Court finds that each of these disciplinary reports contains a section called "Basis for Decision" in which the disciplinary committee outlined the evidence that it relied upon in determining that petitioner was guilty of the infractions listed. (Doc. 1, Exhs.). Clearly, each of these reports contains "some evidence" upon which to base a decision which is all that the due process clause requires. See Superintendent, Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Walpole v. Hill, 472 U.S. at 454, 455 (1985) (The requirements of due process are satisfied if "some" evidence supports the decision by the prison disciplinary board to revoke good time credits . . . "Ascertaining whether this standard is satisfied does not require examination of the entire record, independent assessment of the credibility of witnesses, or weighing of the evidence. Instead, the relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the record that could support the conclusion reached by the disciplinary board.").

  Petitioner also argues that disciplinary committee's findings were contrary to the evidence and that the disciplinary committee arbitrarily disregarded certain evidence. First, the Court notes that petitioner does not identify what evidence he claims that the committee disregarded. (See Doc. 3, pp. 27-29). Second, petitioner's argument is a challenge to the committee's credibility determinations. Such an analysis is not required by the Due Process Clause. See Superintendent, 472 U.S. at 455-456 (citations omitted) (The fundamental fairness guaranteed by the Due Process Clause does not require courts to set aside decisions of prison administrators that have some basis in fact. Revocation of good time credits is not comparable to a criminal conviction, . . . and neither the amount of evidence necessary to support such a conviction, . . . nor any other standard greater than some evidence applies in this context.).

  Finally, petitioner objects to the Report and Recommendation on the ground that the Magistrate Judge failed to address petitioner's assertion that the hearing committee was not fair and impartial. Specifically, petitioner claims that Hearing Officers Quinley and McCoy violated 20 Ill. Admin. Code tit. I, § 504.80(d) which petitioner cites as follows: Section (d): Any person who initiated the allegations which serve as the basis for the disciplinary report, or who conducted an investigation into those allegations, or who witnessed the incident or who is otherwise impartial shall not serve on the adjustment committee hearing that disciplinary report.

 (Doc. 3, p. 20).

  Under Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570-71 (1974), petitioner has a right to impartial disciplinary proceedings. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has noted that this impartiality requirement mandates that any decisionmaker who is directly or substantially involved in the incident underlying a prison disciplinary hearing must be disqualified. Gaither v. Anderson, 236 F.3d 817, 820 (7th Cir. 2000), overruled on other grounds by White v. Ind. Parole Bd., 266 F.3d 759, 768 (7th Cir. 2001)).

  Here, however, petitioner fails to specify why he thinks that Quinley and McCoy were not impartial. The Court has reviewed each of the disciplinary reports, and has found no evidence that either Quinley or McCoy were directly or substantially involved in the incidents underlying the disciplinary reports. Upon review, it appears that all of the disciplinary reports were instigated and investigated by other officers, and did not involve Quinley or McCoy as witnesses. Petitioner offers no evidence whatsoever that Quinley and McCoy were not impartial, thus, petitioner's claim in this regard must fail.*fn1 After conducting a de novo review, this Court agrees with the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. Accordingly, this Court ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Doc. 39). Petitioner's amended petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (Doc. 34) is DENIED. This action is dismissed with prejudice. A separate Judgment shall accompany this Order.

  IT IS SO ORDERED.


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