HOLLEMAN v. HORTH
Order Granting Motion to Dismiss and Directing Entry of Final Judgment - For the reasons explained below, Defendant Gwendolyn M. Horth's motion to dismiss, Dkt. No. 19 , is granted. Because all federal claims have been dismissed for failure to state a claim and the Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, this case must be dismissed. Judgment consistent with this Order shall now issue (SEE ORDER). Signed by Judge William T. Lawrence on 3/6/2018. Copy to Plaintiff via US Mail. (DW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
TERRE HAUTE DIVISION
ROBERT L. HOLLEMAN,
GWENDOLYN M. HORTH individually and in
her official capacity as the Chairwoman of the
Indiana Parole Board,
Order Granting Motion to Dismiss and Directing Entry of Final Judgment
For the reasons explained below, Defendant Gwendolyn M. Horth’s motion to dismiss,
Dkt. No. 19, is granted.
I. Standard of Review
Ms. Horth seeks dismissal of the claims against her pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must
contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007)). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled
facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc.
v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions
or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago,
671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief
“to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir.
II. Factual Background
The following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as required when reviewing a
motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true all well-pleaded facts alleged in the Complaint, and
draws all possible inferences in Mr. Holleman’s favor. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94
(2007) (“[W]hen ruling on a defendant’s motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the
factual allegations contained in the complaint.”).
Plaintiff Robert L. Holleman brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
members of the Indiana Parole Board. He alleged that the Board violated his due process right to
present documentary evidence at his parole hearing on November 12, 2017. Specifically, he
alleges he brought a psychiatric report to the video hearing that he wished to have faxed to the
Parole Board members for their consideration, but it was not provided to them and thus they did
not consider it. He sought injunctive relief – namely, a new parole board hearing under certain
The Court screened Mr. Holleman’s complaint on November 15, 2017 and allowed his due
process claim for injunctive relief to proceed against Gwendolyn Horth in her official capacity as
Chair of the Indiana Parole Board. Dkt. No. 4.
Ms. Horth argues that there is no due process right associated with parole hearings.
Because there is no due process right, she argues that the action must be dismissed for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. She further argues that the Court should decline
supplemental jurisdiction over any state law claim, and, in any case, any state law claim is
precluded by the Eleventh Amendment. Mr. Holleman did not file a response and the time to do
so has passed.
A prisoner has no federal constitutional right to be released before the expiration of his
sentence. Greenholtz v. Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7
(1979). Moreover, under Indiana statutes, “a prisoner has neither a liberty nor a property interest
in his application for parole.” Huggins v. Isenbarger, 798 F.2d 203, 206 (7th Cir. 1986); Averhart
v. Tutsie, 618 F.2d 479, 482 (7th Cir. 1980) (“we hold that Indiana state prisoners do not have a
protectible interest in being paroled”); see also Hendrix v. Borkowski, 927 F.2d 607 (7th Cir. 1991)
(“This court has concluded that the Indiana parole scheme creates neither a liberty nor property
interest in an application for parole.”) (citing Huggins). When no recognized liberty or property
interest has been taken, the confining authority “is free to use any procedures it chooses, or no
procedures at all.” Montgomery v. Anderson, 262 F.3d 641, 644 (7th Cir. 2001).
Mr. Holleman’s sole federal claim is that the Board violated his due process right to present
documentary evidence at his parole hearing. Because he has no due process right associated with
the parole hearing, his claim must be dismissed for failure to state a claim.
Mr. Holleman also stated that the Indiana Parole Board violated Indiana Code 11-13-33(i), which states that “[t]he hearing prescribed by this section may be conducted in an informal
manner without regard to rules of evidence. In connection with the hearing, however: … (3) the
person being considered may appear, speak in the person’s own behalf, and present documentary
evidence.” To the extent Mr. Holleman is alleging a state law claim in connection to the Indiana
Parole Board’s alleged violation of this statute, at this early stage of litigation, the Court declines
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction having already dismissed all claims over which it has original
jurisdiction. See Carlsbad Technology, Inc. v. HIF Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639 (2009); 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(c); see also Wright v. Associated Ins. Companies Inc., 29 F.3d 1244, 1251 (7th Cir. 1994)
(“In the usual case in which all federal claims are dismissed before trial, the balance of these factors
will point to declining to exercise jurisdiction over any remaining pendent state-law claims rather
than resolving them on the merits.”).
Finally, Mr. Holleman requested injunctive relief in the form of a new parole board hearing
at which Mr. Holleman is allowed to present relevant documentary evidence and at which none of
his original parole hearing members are allowed to participate in that hearing.
The Eleventh Amendment bars private lawsuits in federal court against a state that has not
consented. Joseph v. Board of Regents, 432 F.3d 746, 748 (7th Cir. 2005). An agency of the state
enjoys that same immunity. Nuñez v. Indiana Dep't of Child Services, 817 F.3d 1042, 1044 (7th
Cir. 2016); see also Moore v. Indiana, 999 F.2d 1125, 1128-1129 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing Pennhurst
State School & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100 (1984)). Likewise, “state officials in their
official capacities are also immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.” Joseph, 432 F.3d
at 748. There are three exceptions to the Eleventh Amendment bar. Nuñez, 817 F.3d at 1044.
First, a state may waive its sovereign immunity and consent to suit in federal court. Id. at 1044-46.
Second, Congress may abrogate a state’s sovereign immunity through an “unequivocal exercise”
of valid legislative power through Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. Third, the Eleventh
Amendment does not bar suits against state officials in their official capacities if the only relief
sought is prospective injunctive relief for ongoing violations of federal law. Nuñez, 817 F.3d at
1044; Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 159-60 (1908).
No exception to the Eleventh Amendment is applicable here, and thus Mr. Holleman’s
requested injunctive relief cannot be granted by this Court. See Pennhurst, 465 U.S. at 106 (“On
the contrary, it is difficult to think of a greater intrusion on state sovereignty than when a federal
court instructs state officials on how to conform their conduct to state law. Such a result conflicts
directly with the principles of federalism that underlie the Eleventh Amendment.”).
Because all federal claims have been dismissed for failure to state a claim and the Court
declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, this case must be dismissed.
Judgment consistent with this Order shall now issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge
United States District Court
Southern District of Indiana
ROBERT L. HOLLEMAN
WABASH VALLEY - CF
WABASH VALLEY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - Inmate Mail/Parcels
6908 S. Old US Hwy 41
P.O. Box 1111
CARLISLE, IN 47838
David A. Arthur
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
INDIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL
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