Superintendent v. Hill
472 U.S. 445 (1985)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445 (1985)

Superintendent, Massachusetts Correctional

Institution at Walpole v. Hill

No. 84-438

Argued March 25, 1985

Decided June 17, 1985

472 U.S. 445

Syllabus

Respondent inmates in a Massachusetts state prison each received disciplinary reports charging them with assaulting another inmate. At separate hearings, a prison disciplinary board heard testimony from a prison guard and received his written report. According to this evidence, the guard heard some commotion in a prison walkway and, upon investigating, discovered an inmate who evidently had just been assaulted, and saw three other inmates, including respondents, fleeing down the walkway. The board found respondents guilty and revoked their good time credits. After an unsuccessful appeal to the prison superintendent, respondents filed a complaint in Massachusetts Superior Court alleging that the board's decisions violated their constitutional rights because there was no evidence to support the board's findings. The Superior Court granted summary judgment for respondents, holding that the board's findings of guilt rested on no evidence constitutionally adequate to support the findings, and ordered that the lost good time be restored. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed.

Held:

1. Since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court interpreted a state statute as providing for judicial review of respondents' claims, there is no need to decide whether due process would require judicial review. Pp. 472 U. S. 449-453.

2. Assuming that good time credits constitute a protected liberty interest, the revocation of such credits must be supported by some evidence in order to satisfy the minimum requirements of procedural due process. Such a requirement will help to prevent arbitrary deprivation without threatening institutional interests or imposing undue administrative burdens. Ascertaining whether the "some evidence" standard is satisfied does not require examination of the entire record, independent assessment of witnesses' credibility, or weighing of the evidence, but, instead, the relevant question is whether there is any evidence in the record to support the disciplinary board's conclusion. Pp. 472 U. S. 453-456.

3. In this case, the evidence before the disciplinary board was sufficient to meet the requirements imposed by the Due Process Clause

Page 472 U. S. 446

of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the evidence might be characterized as meager, and there was no direct evidence identifying any one of the three fleeing inmates as the assailant, the record is not so devoid of evidence that the board's findings were without support or otherwise arbitrary. Pp. 472 U. S. 456-457.

392 Mass.198, 466 N.E.2d 818, reversed and remanded.

O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, and in Parts I, II, and III of which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 472 U. S. 457.

Page 472 U. S. 447

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