Fields v. Batson et al
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION re 1 Complaint and 11 Amended Complaint filed by Terry Joe Fields: IT IS RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's civil rights complaint be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE as frivolous and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). Objections to R&R due by 2/12/2009. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark Hornsby on 1/26/09. (crt,Cassanova, M)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT W E S T E R N DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA S H R EV E P O RT DIVISION T E R R Y JOE FIELDS VERSUS A N T H O N Y BATSON, ET AL. CIVIL ACTION NO. 08-1269-P J U D GE HICKS M A G I S T R A T E JUDGE HORNSBY
R E P O RT AND RECOMMENDATION This matter has been referred to the undersigned magistrate judge for review, report and recommendation in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(B). S T A T E M E N T OF CLAIM B e f o r e the Court is a civil rights action filed in forma pauperis by pro se plaintiff T erry Joe Fields ("Plaintiff"), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. This complaint was received and f i l ed in this Court on August 26, 2008. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the David Wade
C o r r e c t io n a l Center in Homer, Louisiana. He names Anthony Batson, Susan Tucker, Wayne M illus, Beth Florentaine and Jerry Goodwin as defendants. Plaintiff claims that on May 21, 2006, he was transferred from David Wade C o r r e c t i o n a l Center to Forcht Wade Correctional Center for security reasons. P l a i n ti f f claims that on March 26, 2008, an administrative segregation classification h e a r i n g was conducted and he was upgraded from DD extended lock down to the working cell block. He claims that on April 10, 2008, an administrative segregation classification h e a r i n g was conducted and he was denied eligibility for reclassification because be had been a s s i g n ed to the working cell block for less than 30 days. He claims that on April 17, 2008,
a n administrative segregation classification hearing was conducted and he was denied r e a s s ig n m e n t and the prescribed period for rehearing was increased from 30 days to 60 days. P l a i n ti f f claims that on June 7, 2008, Classification Officer Reshard Bistro informed him that he was going to be transferred to the Forcht Wade Correctional Center general p o p u l a t io n . He claims he never was transferred to the general population. P l a i n ti f f claims that on June 21, 2008, he spoke with Lt. Col. George Savage because h e had not had an administrative segregation review board hearing since April 17, 2008. He c la im s Lt. Col. Savage instructed him to file a grievance in the administrative remedy p r o c e d u r e . Plaintiff claims that on June 22, 2008, he filed a grievance in the administrative r e m e d y procedure. He claims that in said grievance, he complained that the review board w a s discriminating against him. He claims that on June 23, 2008, Wayne Millus replied to his grievance stating that lock down review board decisions were not able to be reviewed in t h e administrative remedy procedure. He claims this response violated his constitutional righ ts. Plaintiff claims that on June 24, 2008, he filed a grievance in the administrative r e m e d y procedure. He claims that in said grievance, he complained of a Fourteenth A m e n d m e n t violation, an Eighth Amendment violation, a Title VII violation and a La. R.S. 14: 134 .2 violation. He claims his grievance was not processed. He claims Wayne Millus is r e s p o n s ib l e for processing all grievances in the administrative remedy procedure. P l a i n ti f f claims that on July 8, 2008, he filed a grievance in the administrative remedy pro ced ure . He claims his grievance was not processed. Page 2 of 11
P l a i n ti f f claims that on July 10, 2008, he spoke with Classification Officer De bbie Millus. He claims Debbie Millus told him that Beth Florentaine blew her down when s h e asked why he was still in segregation lock down after completing his sentence and m e e t i n g the requirements to be placed in general population. P l a i n ti f f states that on July 12, 2008, he wrote Warden Batson a letter in which he a s k e d for mercy and fair treatment. He claims Warden Batson did not respond to his letter. P l a i n ti f f claims that on July 13, 2008, Classification Officer Reshard Bristo told him t h a t Beth Florentaine was transferring him to David Wade Correctional Center. He claims B i s t ro stated that he informed Florentaine that he could not be transferred because he had e n e m i e s at David Wade Correctional Center. Plaintiff claims he sent a letter to
V en eti a Michael regarding the transfer and he received no reply. P l a i n ti f f claims that on July 21, 2008, he was transferred to David Wade Correctional Center. He claims he was transferred because he filed a grievance in the administrative r e m e d y procedure. He claims he spoke to Lonnie Nail regarding his situation. He claims N a i l informed him that he was going to be placed in administrative segregation lock down b e ca u se his prison record had not been transferred with him. P l a i n ti f f claims that on July 22, 2008, he filed a grievance in the administrative r e m e d y procedure regarding his enemies and safety concerns. He claims Tommy Garrett f a i le d to properly perform his duties and rejected his grievance as a Forcht Wade Correction al Center matter.
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P l a i n ti f f claims that on August 12, 2008, he was called to Jamie Fussell's office after he was placed on DD ext/ld for his Forcht Wade Correctional Center violation. He claims Jam ie Fussell and Lonnie Nail informed him that he was being placed in the working cell b l o c k because one of his known enemies had been placed on DD ext/ld. He claims that he i n f o r m e d Fussell that he had completed his punitive sanction at FWCC and should be placed in the general population. He claims Fussell informed him that an inmate could not be transf erred from DD ext/ld to general population and refused his request. P l a i n ti f f claims he is being harshly punished because he is black. He claims white inm ates who are confined for the same violations are treated differently. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and compensatory and punitive damages. L A W AND ANALYSIS D u e Process in the Disciplinary Process P l a i n ti f f complains that at his April 17, 2008 administrative segregation classification h e a r i n g , he was denied reassignment and the prescribed period for rehearing was increased f r o m 30 days to 60 days. To the extent Plaintiff contends he was punished without due pro ces s, that claim is not cognizable. In Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 132 L.Ed.2d 418 (1995), the S u p re m e Court clarified when due process protections attach to the prison disciplinary p r o c e s s . The Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment d o e s not afford an inmate a protected liberty interest that would entitle the inmate to Page 4 of 11
p r o c e d u r a l protections in the disciplinary process when the maximum sanction the inmate could receive does not "present the type of atypical, significant deprivation in which a state m i g h t conceivably create a liberty interest" and the duration of the prisoner's original s e n t e n c e is not affected. Id. 132 L.Ed.2d at 431. Under the guidance provided by Sandin, the Fifth Circuit has held that as a general rule, only sanctions which result in loss of good tim e credit or which otherwise directly and adversely affect release will implicate a cons titutionally protected liberty interest. Orellana v. Kyle, 65 F.3d 29, 31-32 (5th Cir. 1995). Moreover, in commenting on Sandin, the Fifth Circuit noted that liberty interests w h i c h are protected by the Due Process Clause are generally limited to actions which affect t h e quantity of time rather than the quality of time served by a prisoner. Madison v. Parker, 1 0 4 F.3d 765, 767 (5th Cir. 1997) citing Sandin, 115 S.Ct. at 2297. P l a i n ti f f in the instant case does not allege that the disciplinary action affected the d u r a t io n of his sentence or that the disciplinary sentence was atypical of the prison enviro nm ent. To the contrary, Plaintiff's allegations concern the continuation of a working cell block sentence and the prescribed period for a hearing which is far from "extraordinary." This Court finds that under Sandin, Orellana and Madison, an extension of a working cell b l o c k sentence and a change in the prescribed time for a hearing does not constitute the type o f atypical punishment that presents a significant deprivation which would implicate due p r o c e s s concerns. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims that he was punished without due process of law are w i t h o u t merit and should be dismissed with prejudice as frivolous. Page 5 of 11
C l a s s i fi c a t io n and Place of Incarceration P l a i n ti f f complains that he was not transferred from segregation lock down after c o m p l e t in g his sentence and meeting the requirements to be placed in general population. H e complains that he was denied reassignment from the working cell block. He further c o m p l a i n s that he was not transferred to the general population even though he had been i n f o r m e d that he would be. Plaintiff complains he was transferred to David Wade Plaintiff
C o r r e c t io n a l Center even though he had known enemies incarcerated there.
c o m p l a i n s he was placed in the working cell block and not the general population. These a r e not claims that this Court can resolve. Federal courts should not, under the guise of e n forcing constitutional standards, assume the superintendence of state prison administration. S e e Jones v. Diamond, 636 F.2d 1364, 1368 (5th Cir. 1981) (en banc) (overruled on other ground s). Thus, this Court accords state prison administrators wide-ranging deference to adop t and to execute policies and practices that are needed to maintain and preserve order, disc iplin e and security in prison. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 547 (1979). T h e classification of prisoners is such a practice that is left to the discretion of prison o f f i c i a l s . See McCord v. Maggio, 910 F.2d 1248, 1250 (5th Cir. 1990). "It is well settled t h a t `[p]rison officials must have broad discretion, free from judicial intervention, in c l a s si f yi n g prisoners in terms of their custodial status'." McCord, 910 F.2d at 1250 (quoting Wilk erson v. Maggio, 703 F.2d 909 (5th Cir. 1983)). In Louisiana, the classification of prisoners is the duty of the Department of C o r r e ct i o n s and an inmate, such as Plaintiff, has no right to a particular classification. In Page 6 of 11
a d d i t io n , "speculative, collateral consequences of prison administrative decisions do not create constitutionally protected liberty interests." Luken v. Scott, 71 F.3d 192, 193 (5th Cir. 1 9 9 5 ) (citing Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 299 n.8, 96 S. Ct. 2532, 2540 n.8 (1976)). The United States Supreme Court has held that it is for state prison authorities to d e c i d e where a state prisoner is to be incarcerated, and that a prisoner has no right to c h a l le n g e his place of incarceration. See Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 103 S.Ct. 1741, 7 5 L.Ed.2d 813 (1983); Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 96 S.Ct. 2532, 49 L.Ed.2d 451 (1976). Under Olim and Meachum, Plaintiff has no right to challenge his transfer from Forcht Wade Correctional Center to David Wade Correctional Center. A cc or di ng ly, Plaintiff's claims regarding his classification and place of incarceration are frivolous because they lack an arguable basis in law and in fact, and they should be d i s m i s s e d with prejudice as frivolous. R e t a l i a ti o n Plain tiff claims he was transferred to David Wade Correctional Center in retaliation f o r his filing of a grievance in the administrative remedy procedure. Plaintiff claims he has k n o w n enemies at David Wade Correctional Center. Plaintiff admits that when he was transferred to David Wade Correctional Center he was placed in administrative segregation lock down. He further admits that prison officials transferred him to the working cell block when one his known enemies was placed in lock down. To state a claim of retaliation an inmate must allege the violation of a specific constitutional right and be prepared to establish that but for the retaliatory motive the complained of incidentthe transfer to David Wade Page 7 of 11
Correctiona l Center-would not have occurred. Woods v. Smith, 60 F.3d 1161 (5th Cir. 1995), c i ti n g Mt. Healthy City School Board District Bd. Of Education v. Doyle, 429 U.S. 274, 97 S.C t. 568, 50 L.Ed.2d 471 (1977). As shown above, Plaintiff's constitutional rights have not been shown to have been violated by his place of incarceration or prison classification. Moreover, the retaliatory m o t iv e alleged by Plaintiff is entirely conclusory as he provides no specific allegations s h o w i n g that "but for" this motive he would not have been transferred to David Wade Co rrectio nal Center. Accordingly, Plaintiff's claims regarding retaliation should be dismissed with p r e j u d i c e as frivolous. A d m i n i s t r a t iv e Remedy Procedure P l a i n ti f f complains his grievances were rejected and/or not processed in violation of h i s constitutional rights. Inmates do not have a constitutionally protected right to a prison a d m i n i s tr a t iv e grievance procedure. See Oladipupo v. Austin, et al., 104 F.Supp.2d 626 ( U n i t e d States District Court, Western District of Louisiana 4/24/00); Brown v. Dodson, et a l . , 863 F. Supp. 284 (United States District Court, Western District of Virginia 6/2/94); F l i c k v. Alba, 932 F.2d 728, 729 (8 th Cir. 1991). A prison official's failure to comply with a state administrative grievance procedure is not actionable under Section 1983 because a state administrative grievance procedure does not confer any substantive constitutional right u p o n prison inmates. Mann v. Adams, 855 F.2d 639, 640 (9 th Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U . S . 898, 109 S.Ct. 242, 102 L.Ed.2d 231. Furthermore, state administrative grievance Page 8 of 11
p r o c e d u r e s are separate and distinct from state and federal legal procedures. Thus, a prison official's failure to comply with state administrative grievance procedures does not c o m p r o m i s e an inmate's right of access to the courts. Flick, supra. Thus, insofar as Plaintiff a l l e g e s that the Defendants failed to comply with the prison administrative grievance p r o c e d u r e , those allegations, standing alone, do not provide an arguable basis for recovery und er Section 1983. Accordingly, these claims regarding the administrative remedy procedure should be d i s m i s s e d with prejudice as frivolous. D i s c r i m i n a ti o n P l a i n ti f f claims he was harshly punished in the prison disciplinary proceedings b e c a u s e he is black. He claims white inmates who are confined for the same violations are t r e a te d differently. To prove a cause of action under 1983, Plaintiff must demonstrate that p r i s o n officials acted with a discriminatory purpose. Woods v. Edwards, 51 F.3d 577 (5th Cir. 1995). "Discriminatory purpose in an equal protection context implies that the decision m a k e r selected a particular course of action at least in part because of, and not simply in spite o f , the adverse impact it would have on an identifiable group." Id., citing United States v. G a l l o w a y, 951 F.2d 64, 65 (5th Cir. 1992). P l a i n ti f f has failed to allege a discriminatory purpose. He claims he was harshly p u n i s h e d because he was black. He further claims that white inmates confined for the same v i o l a ti o n s were treated differently. Plaintiff states no facts that indicate Defendants intended
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to adversely impact his race. Rather, Plaintiff rests his claim only on his personal belief that disc rimi natio n played a role in his alleged harsh punishment. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to allege a viable equal protection claim and this claim should be dismissed as frivolous. CONCLUSION B e c a u s e Plaintiff filed this proceeding in forma pauperis ("IFP"), if this Court finds Pl ain tif f's complaint to be frivolous, it may dismiss the complaint as such at any time, before o r after service of process, and before or after answers have been filed. See 28 U . S . C . § 1915(e); Green v. M cK askle , 788 F.2d 1116, 1119 (5th Cir. 1986); Spears v. McCotter, 766 F . 2 d 179, 181 (5th Cir. 1985). District courts are vested with extremely broad discretion in m a k i n g a determination of whether an IFP proceeding is frivolous and may dismiss a claim a s frivolous if the IFP complaint lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact. See Hicks v . Garner, 69 F.3d 22 (5th Cir. 1995); Booker v. Koonce, 2 F.3d 114 (5th Cir. 1993); Neitzke v . Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 109 S.Ct. 1827 (1989). A cc or di ng ly; I T IS RECOMM E N D E D that Plaintiff's civil rights complaint be DISMISSED W I T H PREJUDICE as frivolous and for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and (ii). O B J E C T IO N S U n d e r the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b), parties a g g r i e v ed by this recommendation have ten (10) business days from service of this Report Page 10 of 11
a n d Recommendation to file specific, written objections with the Clerk of Court, unless an e x t e n s io n of time is granted under Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b). A party may respond to another party's objection within ten (10) days after being served with a copy thereof. Counsel are d i r e c te d to furnish a courtesy copy of any objections or responses to the District Judge at the t i m e of filing. A party's failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions and r e c o m m e n d a t i o n s set forth above, within ten (10) days after being served with a copy shall b a r that party, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking, on appeal, the proposed f a c t u a l findings and legal conclusions that were accepted by the district court and that were n o t objected to by the aforementioned party. See Douglas v. U.S.A.A., 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir . 1996) (en banc). THUS DONE AND SIGNED, in chambers, in Shreveport, Louisiana, on this 26th d a y of January, 2009.
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