Colwell v. Robbins et al
OPINION AND ORDER: This case is DISMISSED under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Signed by Judge Damon R Leichty on 11/18/2021. (jdb)
USDC IN/ND case 3:21-cv-00406-DRL-MGG document 18 filed 11/18/21 page 1 of 3
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
SOUTH BEND DIVISION
CAUSE NO. 3:21-CV-406 DRL-MGG
M. ROBBINS et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER
Shawn Colwell, a prisoner without a lawyer, filed a complaint against Officer M.
Robbins, an unknown individual that approved Officer Robbins’ actions, and DHB
Sergeant Carter. ECF 1. “A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se
complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than
formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation
marks and citations omitted). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the court still must review the
merits of a prisoner complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against an
Officer Robbins accused Mr. Colwell of throwing trash from his cell on March 27,
2021, by way of an informal conduct report. He was sanctioned with a 14-day loss of
commissary privileges. Mr. Colwell refused to sign the document because he believed
USDC IN/ND case 3:21-cv-00406-DRL-MGG document 18 filed 11/18/21 page 2 of 3
that it violated IDOC policy.1 The informal sanction was approved by a shift supervisor,
facility head, or designee and then forwarded to DBH Sgt. Carter, who enforced the
sanction. Mr. Colwell believes the defendants conspired to violate his due process rights
by depriving him of a pre-deprivation hearing. A formal disciplinary charge was brought
against Mr. Colwell for the same offense, but he reports that he was found not guilty.
Even though he was found not guilty of the formal charge, his 14-day commissary
restriction had already been served.
The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees prisoners certain procedural due process
rights in prison disciplinary hearings, including an opportunity to be heard before an
impartial decision-maker. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556-73 (1974). However, due
process is only required when punishment extends the duration of confinement or
imposes “an atypical and significant hardship on him in relation to the ordinary incidents
of prison life.” Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). Mr. Colwell’s only sanction was
a 14-day loss of commissary privileges. This does not amount to an atypical or significant
hardship. Therefore, he was not entitled to any rights under Wolff.
“The usual standard in civil cases is to allow defective pleadings to be corrected,
especially in early stages, at least where amendment would not be futile.” Abu-Shawish v.
United States, 898 F.3d 726, 738 (7th Cir. 2018). However, “courts have broad discretion to
deny leave to amend where . . . the amendment would be futile.” Hukic v. Aurora Loan
A violation of a prison’s own policy does not amount to a constitutional violation. Scott v.
Edinburg, 346 F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 2003) (“However, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 protects plaintiffs from
constitutional violations, not violations of state laws or, in this case, departmental regulations and
USDC IN/ND case 3:21-cv-00406-DRL-MGG document 18 filed 11/18/21 page 3 of 3
Servs., 588 F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009). For the reasons previously explained, such is the
For these reasons, this case is DISMISSED under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
November 18, 2021
s/ Damon R. Leichty
Judge, United States District Court
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?