Washington v. Byrd et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting defts' 31 Motion for Summary Judgment, dismissing this case with prejudice. Signed by Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray on 3/16/12. (vjt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
KARL BYRD, Sheriff,
Faulkner County Detention Center, et al.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER1
In this pro se § 1983 action, Plaintiff, Willie Washington, alleges that
Defendants violated his due process rights while he was incarcerated in the Faulkner
County Detention Facility (“FCDF”).2 See docket entries #2 and #5.
Defendants have filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, a Brief in Support, a
Supplemental Brief in Support, and a Statement of Undisputed Facts.3 See docket
On March 21, 2011, the parties consented in writing to proceed before a
United States Magistrate Judge. See docket entry #16.
Several months afer he initiated this action, Plaintiff was released from the
FCDF. See docket entries #18 and #56.
It is well settled that summary judgment should only be granted when the
record, viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that no
genuine issue of material fact exists, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 32223 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986). The moving
party bears the initial burden of informing the court of its basis for the motion and
identifying the parts of the record that show lack of a genuine issue. Celotex, 477 U.S.
entries #31, #32, #33, and #47. Plaintiff has filed a Response, a Brief in Support, and
a Statement of Disputed Facts. See docket entries #39, #54, and #55.
Before addressing the merits of Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment,
the Court will set forth the relevant undisputed facts:4
On November 11, 2010, Plaintiff was arrested on felony charges and
booked into the FCDF. See docket entry #33, Ex. A. At the time of his arrest,
Plaintiff was on parole from an earlier state conviction. Id.
On November 16, 2010, Plaintiff received a disciplinary for sleeping on
a blanket after his mattress was removed from his cell. See docket entries #2 and #5.
He was placed in administrative segregation, but released to general population later
that evening after a corporal reviewed the charges. Id.
On November 21, 2010, Plaintiff received a disciplinary for having an
argument with another prisoner. Id. He was placed in administrative segregation. Id.
Later that evening, a corporal reviewed the charge and sentenced him to three days in
at 323. To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must go
beyond the pleadings and establish "by affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file," that specific facts show a genuine issue for
trial exists. See Fed R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.
Defendants have not specifically admitted or denied Plaintiff’s factual
allegations. See docket entry #33. Instead, they argue that they are entitled to
qualified immunity based upon the facts as alleged by Plaintiff. See docket entries
#32 and #47.
punitive segregation. Id.
On December 10, 2010, Plaintiff received a disciplinary for possessing
contraband in the form of an extra laundry bag. He was placed in administrative
segregation. Id. The next day, a corporal reviewed the charge and sentenced him to
five days in punitive segregation. Id.
On December 17, 2010, Plaintiff received a disciplinary for having an
argument with another prisoner. Id. He was placed in administrative segregation. Id.
Later that day, a corporal reviewed the charge and released Plaintiff to general
On January 3, 2011, the Arkansas Department of Community Correction
revoked Plaintiff’s parole. See docket entry #33, Ex. A.
On January 14, 2011, Plaintiff filed this § 1983 action alleging that
Defendants violated his constitutional rights by placing him in administrative
segregation, on four occasions, without providing him due process.5 See docket
entries #2 and #5. He sought compensatory damages,6 as well as an injunction
The parties have not addressed whether each of the Defendants were
personally involved in these alleged constitutional violations.
The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) provides that prisoners and
detainees cannot recover compensatory damages absent a physical injury. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1997e(e); Royal v. Kautzky, 375 F.3d 720, 723 (8th Cir. 2004). Plaintiff argues that
he is entitled to compensatory damages because, each time he was placed in
segregation, he was forced to sleep on the floor, without a mattress or bedding,
prohibiting Defendants from placing similarly situated prisoners in administrative
segregation for disciplinary infractions, without providing them due process.7 Id.
Qualified Immunity Bars Plaintiff’s Due Process Claim
Defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff’s due
process claim. See docket entries #32 and #47. Qualified immunity protects
government officials from liability for monetary damages in a § 1983 action unless,
at the time of alleged violation, their conduct violated a clearly established federal
statutory or constitutional right. Ashcroft v. Al-Kidd, 131 S. Ct. 2074, 2084 (2011);
thereby causing him back pain. See docket entries #5 and #55. Being required to
sleep on the floor for three to five days, on two different occasions, does not constitute
a condition of confinement that rises to the level of a constitutional violation. See,
e.g., O’Leary v. Iowa State Men’s Reformatory, 79 F.3d 82, 83-84 (8th Cir. 1996)
(finding that four days without clothing, blankets, or a mattress failed to rise to the
level of a constitutional violation); Williams v. Delo, 49 F.3d 442, 446 (8th Cir. 1995)
(same). Furthermore, the grievances Plaintiff has produced suggest that his back pain
was caused by being tased, on or about November 12, 2010, which was four days
before he was placed in segregation for the first time. See docket entry #55, Exs. B,
C, D, and E.
Without a physical injury, Plaintiff can only recover nominal damages if he can
prove his due process rights were violated. See Williams v. Hobbs, 662 F.3d 994, 1011
(8th Cir. 2011) (holding that a prisoner, who was denied due process in connection
with his placement in segregation, was entitled to $1 for each time he was denied a
due process hearing, and not a dollar for each day that he spent in segregation).
In his Brief in Support of the Response to Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment (docket entry #54), Plaintiff makes the conclusory assertion that, as pretrial
detainee/parolee, he was entitled to “notice and a hearing” on each of the four
disciplinaries he received.
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231-32 (2009).
To overcome a defendant’s assertion of qualified immunity, the plaintiff must
show that: (1) defendant’s conduct violated a constitutional or statutory right; and (2)
the constitutional or statutory right was clearly established at the time of the alleged
violation. Id. Importantly, under the qualified immunity doctrine, “officials are not
liable for bad guesses in gray areas; they are liable for transgressing bright lines.”
Moore v. City of Desloge, Mo., 647 F.3d 841, 846 (8th Cir. 2011); Ambrose v. Young,
474 F.3d 1070, 1077 (8th Cir. 2007).
Defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity because it was not
clearly established, in November and December of 2010, that Plaintiff was entitled to
any procedural due process in connection with being placed in administrative
segregation for disciplinary violations. The resolution of that issue hinges entirely on
Plaintiff’s “status” at the time he received the disciplinaries, i.e., was he a convicted
prisoner, a pretrial detainee, a parolee, or some combination of the above.
A Convicted Prisoner’s Due Process Rights under Sandin
In Sandin v. O’Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 485 (1995), the Court made it clear that,
when a convicted prisoner is temporarily confined in administrative segregation, it
does not impose an “atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the
ordinary incidents of prison life.” Id. at 484. Under Sandin, a convicted prisoner
does not have a right to any procedural due process in connection with being
temporarily placed in administrative segregation.8 Id. at 486-87 (holding that a
convicted prisoner did not have any due process rights in connection with being
placed in disciplinary segregation for thirty days); Portley-El v. Brill, 288 F.3d 1063,
1065-66 (8th Cir. 2002) (same).
A Pretrial Detainee’s Due Process Rights under Bell
Because pretrial detainees are presumed innocent, they can not be punished for
the crime for which they have been charged. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-37
(1979); Rapier v. Harris, 172 F.3d 999, 102 (7th Cir 1999); Martinez v. Tuner, 977
F.2d 421, 423 (8th Cir. 1992). Being required to comply with an administrative
restriction or condition that adversely affects a pretrial detainee is not “punishment”
In contrast, a convicted prisoner is entitled to due process if the disciplinary
conviction results in the loss of good time credits or the length of disciplinary
confinement is deemed to be long enough to give rise to a liberty interest. Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 557 (1974); Williams v. Hobbs, 992 F.3d 994, 997 (8th Cir.
2011) (holding that a prisoner had liberty interest at stake, and thus a right to due
process of law, in regard to being placed in administrative segregation for fourteen
years). If a convicted prisoner can establish such a liberty interest, due process
requires that, before he can be placed in disciplinary segregation, he must receive: (1)
advance written notice of the disciplinary charges; (2) an opportunity to call witnesses
and present a defense; (3) a written statement of the evidence relied upon by the fact
finder and the reasons for the disciplinary action; and (4) findings that are supported
by “some” evidence. Wolff, , 418 U.S. at 563-67; Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445,
if it is “reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective” such as maintaining
institutional order and safety.9 Bell, 441 U.S. at 539-40. However, if the restriction
or condition is deemed punishment, a pretrial detainee has the right, under the Due
Process Clause, to – at a minimum – notice and an opportunity to be heard.10
See Ferguson v. Cape Girardeau County, 88 F.3d 647, 650 (8th Cir. 1996)
(holding that placement of a pretrial detainee in segregation for 13 days, was not
“punishment” because it was done for the legitimate governmental objectives of
monitoring the plaintiff’s health and preventing him from harming other detainees);
Martinez v. Turner, 977 F.2d 421, 423 (8th Cir. 1992) (remanding for a determination
of whether the pretrial detainee was required to work as “punishment” or in
furtherance of the legitimate governmental objective of “general housekeeping”);
Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 438 (7th Cir. 2002) (explaining that placement of a
pretrial detainee in disciplinary segregation is not “punishment” if it is done for
legitimate institutional concerns such as preventing suicide, housing needs, or
reducing danger to others).
It is unclear whether county jails, which have limited financial resources and
generally hold individuals for short periods of time, are required to give pretrial
detainees the full Wolff and Hill due process protections. See Mathews v. Eldridge,
424 U.S. 319, 334 (1976) (explaining that: “Due process is flexible and calls for such
procedural protections as the particular situation demands”); compare Cummings v.
Dunn, 630 F.2d 649, 651 (8th Cir. 1980) (finding, without resolving the issue, that no
constitutional violation occurred where a pretrial detainee was afforded the full
Wolff due process protections before being placed in segregation); with Senty-Haugen
v. Goodno, 462 F.3d 876, 888 (8th Cir. 2006) (explaining that a civilly committed
sexual offender is entitled to, at a minimum, notice and an opportunity to be heard
prior to being placed in segregation); Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 438 (7th Cir.
2002) (holding that a “pretrial detainee cannot be placed in segregation as punishment
for a disciplinary infraction without notice an opportunity to be heard; due process
requires no less”); Hart v. Beasley, 3:10CV00015 BD, 2011 WL 39134 (E.D. Ark.
Jan. 6, 2011) (unpublished opinion) (holding that a pretrial detainee was entitled to
notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to being placed in segregation, as
A Pretrial Detainee/Parolee’s Due Process Rights
At the time Plaintiff received each of the four disciplinaries, he was a pretrial
detainee/parolee. Based solely on his own subjective opinion, Plaintiff asserts that he
was placed in administrative segregation as punishment, rather than for the legitimate
governmental objectives of maintaining order and safety within the FCDF. See docket
entry #31, #32, #33, and #47. While Defendants do not directly address this assertion,
it seems manifest that one of the important purposes of all disciplinaries is to maintain
order and safety within the facility. Certainly, that is the case regarding the four minor
disciplinaries that Plaintiff received, as evidenced by the fact that none of the
disciplinaries resulted in him spending more than a few days in segregation. This calls
into serious question Plaintiff’s entirely subjective belief that he received the
disciplinaries as punishment.
Both sides agree that Plaintiff did not receive notice and a hearing either before
or after he was placed in segregation.
Defendants argue that, because Plaintiff was a pretrial detainee/parolee at the
time he received the disciplinaries, he had essentially the same status as any other
convicted prisoner, and was not entitled to any due process. In other words,
Defendants argue that, as a parolee, Plaintiff was still serving the remainder of his
earlier sentence, but the State had allowed him to do so outside of prison.
Plaintiff does not contest the fact that he was a parolee at the time he received
the disciplinaries. However, he contends that, because he had not yet been convicted
of violating his parole (based on the pending criminal charges), he was entitled to the
same constitutional protections afforded a pretrial detainee, including notice and a
hearing on the alleged disciplinary violations.
There do not appear to be any reported cases addressing how a court should
analyze a pretrial detainee/parolee’s due process challenge to being placed in
administrative segregation.11 However, the Court did find several cases discussing
See Whitfield v. Fresno Cnty. Det. Facility, Case No. 95-17072, 1997 WL
135818 (9th Cir. March 24, 1997) (unpublished opinion) (remanding for a
determination of whether a parolee’s due process rights were the same as a convicted
prisoners, under Sandin, or the same as a pretrial detainee, under Bell. The plaintiff
later voluntarily dismissed his case before the issue was resolved); Purkey v. Green,
Case No. 01-3134, 2005 WL 627959, 15-16 (D. Kan. Feb. 24, 2005) (unpublished
opinion) (declining to resolve whether a parolee who was placed in segregation had
the same due process rights as a pretrial detainee or a convicted prisoner because his
claim failed, as a matter of law, under both the Sandin and Bell standards).
Defendants cite two cases discussing the proper constitutional standard to be
applied to a parolee’s excessive force claims. Nether case provides any guidance on
how a court should resolve a due process issue similar to the one presented in this
case. See Rankin v. Klevenhagen, 5 F.3d 103, 105-106 (5th Cir. 1993) (declining to
determine whether a parolee is more like a convicted prisoner or a pretrial detainee
because the Eighth Amendment “malicious and sadistic” standard applies to all
excessive force claims brought by confined individuals, regardless of whether they are
pretrial detainees, parolees, or convicted prisoners); Turner v. White, 443 F. Supp. 2d
288, 293-94 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) (discussing whether the Fourth or Eighth Amendment
standard applied when force was used against a parolee during his arrest; but not
addressing any due process rights that arise under the Fourteenth Amendment).
whether a pretrial detainee/parolee’s due process claims arising from a guard allegedly
exposing him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement as punishment should be
analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause (which is applied to
pretrial detainees) or the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment
provision (which applies to convicted prisoners).12
In Flores v. Mesenbourg, Case No. 95-17241, 1997 WL 303277 (9th Cir. June
2, 1997) (unpublished opinion), a parolee awaiting a revocation hearing alleged that,
to punish him, guards in a county jail subjected him to a variety of inhumane
conditions of confinement. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the parolee’s claims
should be analyzed under the Eighth Amendment standard that applies to convicted
prisoners, rather than the Fourteenth Amendment standard that applies to pretrial
Pretrial detainees are protected entirely from “punishment” under
the Fourteenth Amendment, while convicted prisoners are protected only
from “cruel and unusual punishment” by the Eighth Amendment. We
have little difficulty concluding that the Eighth Amendment provides the
proper standard for Flores. He was subject to incarceration for a parole
violation because he had originally been convicted and given the
sentence which was moderated by parole. His original conviction is the
authority under which he was confined after his parole violation. As a
In the Eighth Circuit, this is not an issue because the same legal standard
applies to conditions of confinement claims brought by pretrial detainees and
convicted prisoners. See Davis v. Oregon County, Mo., 607 F.3d 543, 548-49 (8th Cir.
2010); Butler v. Fletcher, 465 F.3d 340, 345 (8th Cir. 2006).
convicted prisoner, he must rely on the Eighth Amendment to support his
Id. at *1 (internal citation omitted).
In Hamilton v. Lyons, 74 F.3d 99, 102 (5th Cir. 1996), a pretrial
detainee/parolee awaiting trial on new criminal charges alleged that guards in a county
jail punished him by subjecting him to a variety of inhumane conditions of
confinement. The Fifth Circuit recognized that a pretrial detainee/parolee’s status is
different from that of a convicted prisoner, because he has not been found guilty of the
pending criminal charges that are the basis for his current confinement. However, the
Court went on to note that, unlike a pretrial detainee who has not been convicted of
“any” crimes, a pretrial detainee/parolee has already been found guilty of at least one
prior criminal offense for which he was allowed to be released on parole. Id. at 10406. This meant, according to the Fifth Circuit, that a pretrial detainee/parolee could
be subject to “extensive restrictions” on his liberty. Id. at 105 (quoting Morrissey v.
Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 483 (1972)).13
In Morrissey, the Court recognized that: “The State has found the parolee
guilty of a crime against the people. That finding justifies imposing extensive
restrictions on the individual’s liberty.” Id. at 483. Thus, the Court held that a parolee
facing revocation is entitled to far less due process than he received when being tried
for his original criminal offense. Id. Specifically, pursuant to Morrissey, a parolee
facing revocation is only entitled to: (1) written notice of violations; (2) disclosure of
evidence against him; (3) attend hearing and present evidence; (4) confront and cross
examine witnesses, unless there is good cause for no confrontation; (5) neutral and
Finding that a pretrial detainee/parolee fell somewhere between a convicted
prisoner and a pretrial detainee, the Fifth Circuit created a new constitutional standard
which requires a pretrial detainee/parolee to establish, “through direct evidence,” an
“expressed intent by detention facility officers to punish him for the crime for which
he has been charged but not yet convicted [by exposing him to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement].”14 Id. at 106.
The Courts’ holdings in Morrissey, Hamilton, and Flores make it clear that any
liberty interest that Plaintiff may have, as a pretrial detainee/parolee, is far more
circumscribed than that of a pretrial detainee. Thus, in the context of a pretrial
detainee/parolee like Plaintiff, who received disciplinaries and was placed in
administrative segregation for short intervals of time, it is doubtful that he can assert
an actionable due process claim.
While the Court finds Plaintiff’s due process claim to be of considerable
detached hearing body; and (6) written reasons for revocation). Id. at 489; see also
Langella v. Anderson, 612 F.3d 938, 941 (8th Cir. 2010) (explaining that the decision
to revoke parole need only be supported by a preponderance of the evidence).
Under Bell, a pretrial detainee can prevail if he demonstrates that the
conditions were imposed as punishment, rather than to further legitimate
governmental objectives such as safety or institutional order. Bell, 441 U.S. at 53940. By requiring a pretrial detainee/parolee to offer “direct evidence” of an “expressed
intent” by guards to expose him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement to
punish him for the charged crime for which he had not yet been convicted, the Court
in Hamilton gave the pretrial detainee/parolee a much more difficult road to negotiate
in order to prevail on such a claim.
academic interest, it need not resolve that claim in order to grant Defendants’ Motion
for Summary Judgment. If nothing else, the preceding analysis has made one thing
very clear: Plaintiff’s alleged due process right is not clearly established under either
federal statutes or case law.
Thus, Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiffs’ due process
claim. See Wagner v. Jones, 664 F.3d 259, 273 (8th Cir. 2011) (explaining that, when
considering the second prong of the qualified immunity defense: “[I]t is not enough
that a right be established in an abstract sense; rather the contours of the right must be
sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing
violates that right”); Mathers v. Wright, 636 F.3d 396, 399 (8th Cir. 2011) (same).
Plaintiff’s Request for Injunctive Relief
Defendants make the conclusory argument that a finding of qualified immunity
entitles them to dismissal of the entire case. See docket entries #32 and #47. However,
qualified immunity applies only to a request for damages, not to injunctive relief.
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 242 (2009); Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968,
977 (8th Cir. 1999); Williams v. Delo, 49 F.3d 442, 445 (8th Cir. 1995).
In his pleadings, Plaintiff also seeks an injunction requiring Defendants to
change their alleged policy or practice regarding the way pretrial detainees/parolees
are placed in administrative segregation, without allowing them any due process. See
docket entries #2 and #5. As indicated earlier, Plaintiff is no longer confined in the
FCDF. Thus, he is no longer subject to the allegedly unconstitutional policy or
practice that serves as the sole basis for his request for injunctive relief. Under well
established case law, that renders moot his claim for injunctive relief.
Owens v. Isaac, 487 F.3d 561, 564 (8th Cir. 2007) (explaining that a prisoner’s or
detainee’s request for injunctive relief is moot if he is no longer subject to the
allegedly unconstitutional condition or practice); Hanks v. Prachar, 457 F.3d 774, 775
(8th Cir. 2006) (same); Smith v. Hundley; 190 F.3d 852, 855 (8th Cir. 1999) (same).
Accordingly, the due process claim Plaintiff has asserted against Defendants must be
dismissed, with prejudice.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED THAT Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment (docket entry #31) is GRANTED, and this case is DISMISSED, WITH
Dated this 16th day of March, 2012.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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