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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit Indiana cases since Oct. 23rd

In Johnson v. Finnan (11/2/06, SD Ind., Richard L. Young, Judge), a 4-page opinion, Judge Easterbrook writes:

Disciplinary panels in state prisons are not courts. White v. Indiana Parole Board, 266 F.3d 759, 765-66 (7th Cir. 2001). From this it follows that facts found (or assumed) by a prison disciplinary board are not entitled to the presumption of correctness that 28 U.S.C. §2254(e) affords to judicial findings. Piggie v. McBride, 277 F.3d 922, 925 (7th Cir. 2002). This means, in turn, that when a prisoner who seeks a writ of habeas corpus provides competent evidence (such as an affidavit by someone with personal knowledge of the events) contradicting an assertion by the prison disciplinary board on a material question of fact pertinent to an issue of constitutional law, the district court must hold an evidentiary hearing to determine where the truth lies. Piggie, 272 F.3d at 926; Pannell v. McBride, 306 F.3d 499 (7th Cir. 2002). We publish an opinion in this run-of-the-mine appeal because these established propositions frequently are overlooked in litigation arising from Indiana’s prison system. * * *

Prison disciplinary boards are entitled to resolve conflicts in the stories presented to them, as long as “some evidence” supports the decision. Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445 (1985). But they are not entitled to prevent the prisoner from offering material evidence. If Johnson is telling the truth, that’s exactly what this board did. An evidentiary hearing must be held to determine what happened. If Indiana wants federal courts to treat its decisions with more respect, it has only to provide for review in its own courts as an initial matter. REVERSED AND REMANDED

In Northcutt et al v. GM Hourly Rate Employeees Pension Plan (11/2/06, SD Ind., Sarah Evans Barker, Judge), a 16-page opinion, Judge Ripple writes:
James Northcutt and Lewis Smith brought this action seeking pension plan benefits withheld from them by their employer, General Motors Corporation (“GM”). GM had suspended the payment of these benefits and was treating the amount otherwise due to the plaintiffs each month as reimbursement for past disability and pension plan overpayments. Mr. Northcutt and Mr. Smith claim that § 502 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1132, prohibits GM from invoking contractual remedies for reimbursement and instead requires GM to seek equitable relief before a court. The district court granted summary judgment for GM; it determined that § 502 did not preclude the enforcement of the recoupment provisions. We agree with the district court and therefore affirm its judgment.
In U.S. v. Riakos Barker (10/30/06, ND Ind., Theresa L. Springmann, Judge), a 9-page opinion, Judge Bauer writes:
A jury convicted Riakos Barker of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and two counts of aiding and abetting a straw purchase in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1-2). Barker was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment. On appeal, Barker argues that (1) the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress; (2) the government violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 10 L. Ed. 2d 215 (1963), by failing to provide a witness statement until the first day of trial; and (3) his due process rights were violated by the enhancement of his sentence. We affirm.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 2, 2006 07:26 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions