COA: Judge should dismiss habeas petition

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found a Henry County judge erred when he denied an inmate’s petition for habeas corpus challenging a disciplinary decision from the Indiana Department of Correction. The judge should have instead dismissed the petition.

Frederick Holmes-Bey, a DOC prisoner, sought judicial review of the decision by the prison disciplinary board that Holmes-Bey should lose 180 days of credit time, as well as other sanctions, for his refusal of a Sex Offender Management and Monitoring Program polygraph. Holmes-Bey was a participant in the program, but he argued that the sanctions violate his right against self-incrimination.

He sent his request for relief under 28 U.S.C. Section 2254 to Henry Circuit Court 2 instead of federal court. Holmes-Bey sent a letter a few days later to the court saying that it was filed in the wrong court. A month later, Judge Kit C. Dean Crane held that Holmes-Bey’s petition could be filed in state court, but that he was without jurisdiction to consider the request for the writ. Crane then denied the petition.

In Indiana, the enforcement of prison disciplinary sanctions is not subject to judicial review. Although Holmes-Bey claimed the sanctions violated his right against self-incrimination, he strenuously asserted that he is appealing a disciplinary decision, Judge L. Mark Bailey pointed out in Frederick Holmes-Bey v. Keith Butts, 33A05-1406-MI-290.

“Because the objective of Holmes-Bey’s complaint is review and rescission of a disciplinary sanction, Holmes-Bey did not have the right to raise the question in an Indiana court. The appropriate response of an Indiana trial court presented with a purported appeal of a DOC disciplinary decision is to dismiss the complaint because it would not fall within the general scope of authority conferred upon the court by constitution or statute,” Bailey wrote. “Here – assuming that the trial court clerk had no duty to forward the document after discovery that it had been filed in error – the action required of the trial court was dismissal of the improperly filed complaint.”

The judges remanded with instructions to dismiss the petition.


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