Goyne v. Morales

Filing 9

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS for 4 Report and Recommendations. Signed by Judge Xavier Rodriguez. (ep, )

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In the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas D A V I D GOYNE, P la in tiff v. W A R D E N PAUL MORALES, D e fe n d a n t § § § § § § § § § Civil Action No. SA-08-CA-1017-XR ORDER O n this date the Court considered the Report and Recommendation of the U n it e d States Magistrate Judge (docket no. 4) and Plaintiff's objections thereto. U p o n Plaintiff's institution of this lawsuit, the Court referred the case to the M a g i st r a t e Judge for initial consideration and for a ruling on Plaintiff's motion t o proceed in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. The Magistrate J u d g e then recommended that the Court dismiss with prejudice Plaintiff's c o m p la in t as frivolous. Having carefully considered the recommendation of the M a g is t r a te Judge and Plaintiff's objections thereto, the Court accepts the M a g is tr a te Judge's recommendation and DISMISSES this case. I. Background T h is is a civil action brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Plaintiff, David G o y n e , an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice­Correctional I n s tit u t io n s Division ("TDCJ-CID"), against Paul Morales, the senior warden at th e facility in which Plaintiff is being held.1 In this action, Plaintiff generally t a k e s issue with Defendant's actions requiring Plaintiff to labor as part of P la in tiff's punishment. In the complaint, Plaintiff specifically contends that the im p o s it io n of forced labor upon him violates the Thirteenth Amendment's p r o h ib it io n of involuntary servitude, the Tenth Amendment, the Separation of P o w e r s Doctrine, the Due Process Clause, the Ex Post Facto Clause, and the D o u b le Jeopardy Clause. II. Standard of Review S e c t io n 1915(e)(2) requires the dismissal of an in forma pauperis p r o c e e d in g which is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim on which relief m a y be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune fr o m such relief. To state a claim upon which relief can be granted, a complaint n e e d not contain detailed factual allegations, but must include more than labels a n d conclusions or a formalistic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. B ell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). Factual allegations m u s t be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. D is m is sa l of a claim as frivolous is permissible when the complaint lacks an Plaintiff pled guilty in the 259th Judicial District Court of Jones C o u n ty to murder and was subsequently sentenced to serve 45 years in the T D C J -C ID . 2 1 a r g u a b l e basis either in law or in fact, or relies upon an indisputably meritless le g a l theory. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Geiger v. Jowers, 404 F .3d 371, 373 (5th Cir. 2005). I n reviewing the Magistrate Judge's recommendation, the Court must c o n d u c t a de novo review of any of the Magistrate Judge's conclusions that P la in tiff has specifically objected to. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) ("A judge of the c o u r t shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or s p e c i f i e d proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made."). A s to the portions of the report which are not objected to, the Court needs only t o review those portions to determine whether they are clearly erroneous or c o n tr a r y to law. Id.; United States v. Wilson, 864 F.2d 1219, 1221 (5th Cir.), cert. d e n i ed , 492 U.S. 918 (1989). I I I . Analysis A. T h i r t e e n t h Amendment P la in t if f complains that, while in prison, Defendant required Plaintiff to p e r fo r m labor against his will, in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. The M a g is t r a t e Judge concluded that Plaintiff's involuntary servitude claim was fr iv o lo u s . The Thirteenth Amendment permits involuntary servitude without p a y as punishment after conviction of an offense, even when the prisoner is not e x p lic it ly sentenced to hard labor. U.S. CONST. amend. XIII, § 1; Smith v. 3 D r e tk e , 157 F. App'x 747, 748 (5th Cir. 2005). Moreover, the Fifth Circuit Court o f Appeals has explicitly upheld work requirements in Texas prisons against the c h a lle n g e that such a practice amounted to involuntary servitude. Walker v. D ir e cto r Tex. Dept. of Criminal Justice, 177 F. App'x 426, 426 (5th Cir. 2006); Ali v . Johnson, 259 F.3d 317, 318 (5th Cir. 2001). N e v e r th e le s s , "a prisoner who is not sentenced to hard labor retains his t h ir t e e n t h amendment rights." Watson v. Graves, 909 F.2d 1549, 1552 (5th Cir. 1 9 9 0 ) . Plaintiff claims that his sentence mandated physical confinement but not fo r c e d labor. However, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that Texas la w provides that Plaintiff's sentence automatically includes compulsory labor. A s the Magistrate Judge recognized, Texas law not only authorizes but requires c o m p u ls o r y work for all prisoners capable of working. The TDCJ "shall require e a c h inmate and each defendant or releasee housed in a facility operated by or u n d e r contract with the department to work in an agricultural, industrial or o th e r work program to the extent that the inmate, defendant or releasee is p h y s ic a lly and mentally capable of working." TEX. GOV'T CODE § 497.099(a).2 Plaintiff's offense was committed on August 20, 1999. Section 497.099 became effective on September 1, 1999. However, the predecessor to section 497.099, TEXAS GO V E RN M EN T CODE § 497.090, in effect from September 1, 1995 to August 31, 1999, likewise mandated inmates to work. McBride v. TCDJ-ID, 964 S.W.2d 18, 24 n.2 (Tex. App.­Tyler 1997) ("As of September 1, 1995, requiring inmates to work is no longer discretionary, but is mandated by law.") (citing TEX. GOV'T CODE ANN. § 497.090). Therefore, whether section 497.099 or its predecessor applies to Plaintiff's sentence, Texas law requires that compulsory labor shall be part of Plaintiff's punishment. 4 2 U n d e r this statutory scheme, it is immaterial whether Plaintiff was explicitly s e n te n c e d to hard labor. Smith v. Dretke, 157 F. App'x 747, 748 (5th Cir. 2005) (" T h e Thirteenth Amendment permits involuntary servitude without pay as p u n is h m e n t after conviction of an offense, even when the prisoner is not e x p lic it ly sentenced to hard labor."). Consequently, the Court agrees with the M a g is tr a te Judge that Plaintiff's claims should be dismissed to the extent that h e complains generally that forced labor as punishment constitutes involuntary s e r v it u d e in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. B. T e n th Amendment Plaintiff recognizes that involuntary servitude may be constitutionally r e q u ir e d of persons subject to punishment for commission of a federal felony. H o w e v e r , Plaintiff argues that Defendant's actions requiring Plaintiff to labor v io la te s the Tenth Amendment by adopting federal punishment and applying it t o a felon subject only to a sentence under Texas law. Plaintiff further contends t h a t simply because federal felons can be forced to do hard labor by virtue of the T h ir t e e n t h Amendment does not mean that state prisoners can be required to p e r fo r m hard labor. However, as discussed above, Plaintiff was convicted and sentenced under T e x a s law which requires ­ in constitutionally permissible fashion ­ that P la in t if f's punishment include compulsory labor. Plaintiff's attempt to 5 r e c h a r a c t e riz e his punishment as "federal" in nature is irrelevant ­ whether or n o t aspects of his punishment resemble aspects of certain federal punishments, P la in tiff is properly subject to compulsory labor as part of his State sentence. C. S e p a r a t i o n of Powers P la in t iff also believes that Defendant is violating the doctrine of s e p a r a t io n of powers by implementing § 497.099(a) when no mention of hard la b o r is made in the court's judgment. The Magistrate Judge determined that P la in tiff 's claim under the Separation of Power doctrine was not cognizable b e c a u se only state branches of power are involved. Plaintiff did not object to the M a g i st r a t e Judge's recommendation. The Court finds that the recommendation is neither clearly erroneous nor contrary to law. See Baca v. Owens, 293 F. App'x 2 4 7 , 250 (5th Cir. 2008). The Court thus dismisses Plaintiff's separation of p o w e r s argument. D. E x Post Facto P la in t iff next argues that requiring Plaintiff to work violates the Ex Post F a c t o Clause of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff observes that he c o m m it t e d his offense on August 20, 1999, prior to September 1, 1999, the date o n which § 497.099(a) became effective. We agree with the Magistrate Judge t h a t Plaintiff's claim is without merit. The predecessor to section 497.099, T EXAS GOVERNMENT CODE § 497.090, in effect from September 1, 1995 to August 6 3 1 , 1999, likewise mandated inmates to work. McBride v. TCDJ-ID, 964 S.W.2d 1 8 , 24 n.2 (Tex. App.­Tyler 1997) ("As of September 1, 1995, requiring inmates t o work is no longer discretionary, but is mandated by law.") (citing TEX. GOV'T C O DE ANN. § 497.090). Therefore, whether section 497.099 or its predecessor a p p lie s to Plaintiff's sentence, Texas law has required compulsory labor to be p a r t of Plaintiff's punishment.3 I n his objections, Plaintiff further maintains that if he refuses to engage in prison labor, he will be disciplined with consequences which affect his e lig ib ility for parole, and that such disciplinary measures would effectively e x t e n d the duration of his punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause. H o w e v e r , "good time credits affect only parole eligibility and their loss does not in c r e a s e the sentence." Farr v. Rodriguez, 255 F. App'x 925, 927 (5th Cir. 2007) (c i t i n g Palmer v. Texas Bd. of Paroles, 89 F. App'x 857, 858 (5th Cir. 2009)). T h e r e fo r e , no ex post facto violation arises from a loss of good time credits. Id. F u rt h e r , "[t]o fall within the ex post facto prohibition, a law must be retrosp ective­ that is, `it must apply to events occurring before its e n a ct m e n t '­ a n d it `must disadvantage the offender affected by it,' by altering the Plaintiff also argues that neither § 497.090 nor § 497.099 could have applied to his sentence because each is contained in the Texas Government Code, not the Texas Penal Code or the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The Magistrate Judge concluded that the code in which these sections are codified is irrelevant, and this Court agrees. 3 7 d e f in it io n of criminal conduct or increasing the punishment for the crime." Lynce v . Mathis, 519 U.S. 433, 441 (1997). Plaintiff fails to identify as the source of his c la im a law or regulation enacted since his incarceration that is being applied r e tr o a c tiv e ly to increase his punishment. In fact, throughout the duration of his c la im , Texas law has clearly mandated that all TDCJ inmates engage in c o m p u ls o r y labor.4 The Court thus finds that Plaintiff does not state a claim u n d e r the ex post facto clause. E. D u e Process P l a in t iff additionally asserts that Defendant violates his right to due p r o c e s s by subjecting Plaintiff to forced labor when only imprisonment and fine w e r e permissible under the applicable statute proscribing murder and only im p r is o n m e n t and fine were ordered by the court. The Magistrate Judge c o n c lu d e d that Plaintiff's due process argument fails because compulsory labor fo r prisoners was and is constitutionally authorized and statutorily mandated fo r all TDCJ inmates, no matter the crime nor the sentence. In his objections, Plaintiff argues that he may lose good conduct credits fr o m his refusal to work, which would result in a violation of his due process See also Franklin v. Johnson, No. 00-1103, 2001 LW 360832, at *1 n.2 (5th Cir. March 21, 2001) (noting in 2001 that "Texas prison regulations have provided for reductions in class and loss of good conduct time as punishments for major disciplinary violations since at least 1991") (citing TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, INSTITUTIONAL DIVISION, DISCIP LIN A RY RULES AND PROCEDURES FOR INMATES, 13 (May 1991)). Plaintiff does not argue that any relevant change in regulations has since occurred. 8 4 r ig h t s . T h e Constitution does not guarantee good time credit for s a t i s f a c t o r y behavior while in prison. However, when a state c r e a te s a right to good time credit and recognizes that its revocation is an authorized sanction for misconduct, a prisoner's interest t h e r e in is embraced within the Fourteenth Amendment's liberty c o n c e r n s so as to entitle him to those minimum procedures a p p r o p r i a t e under the circumstances and required by the due p r o c e s s clause to insure that this state-created right is not a r b itr a r ily abrogated. Malchi v. Thaler, 211 F.3d 953, 958 (5th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). Although t h e Texas legislature specifically states that it has not created a right to good c o n d u c t time, the Fifth Circuit has implied that a liberty interest in good-time c r e d its , protected by procedural due process, may exist under Texas law in c e r ta in limited circumstances. Compare Richards v. Dretke, 394 F.3d 291, 293 (5 th Cir. 2004) with Malchi, 211 F.3d at 957-58. This liberty interest ensures th a t minimum procedures will be followed at disciplinary hearings which could r e s u lt in loss of good time credits. See Richards, 211 F.3d at 958. Plaintiff, h o w e v e r , has not alleged any procedural deficiencies in a disciplinary hearing. T h e r e f o r e , Plaintiff has failed to allege that his procedural due process rights h a v e been violated. See also Luken v. Scott, 71 F.3d 192, 193 (5th Cir. 1995) (d i s m is s in g § 1983 claim that confinement in administrative segregation, which m a y affect good time credits, violated due process; plaintiff failed to show he was n o t afforded constitutionally insufficient process). Morever, Plaintiff does not 9 a lle g e that he has actually lost any good time credits. He only raises the p o s s ib ilit y of loss. Therefore, Plaintiff's due process claim is not ripe. The Court th u s dismisses Plaintiff's due process claim. F. D o u b le Jeopardy F in a lly , Plaintiff claims that changing his punishment from confinement t o labor also violates the Double Jeopardy clause. The Double Jeopardy Clause p r o t e c t s second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal, a second p r o s e c u t io n for the same offense after conviction, and multiple punishments for th e same offense. United States v. Ursery, 518 U.S. 267, 273 (1996). Plaintiff s u g g e s t s that the imposition of forced labor constitutes a second punishment for t h e same offense. The Magistrate Judge concluded that no double jeopardy v io la tio n occurred because Defendant did not subject Plaintiff to additional p u n is h m e n t by requiring him to labor. The Court agrees with the conclusion of t h e Magistrate Judge. Texas law mandates compulsory labor as one aspect of a term of confinement under Texas law. TEX. GOV'T CODE § 497.099(a). The im p o s it io n of forced labor is thus an indistinguishable characteristic of P la in t iff's sentence of confinement and does not constitute the imposition of a d d it io n a l punishment. I n his objections, Plaintiff appears to claim that the potential for loss of g o o d time credits for refusal to work is the additional punishment violating the 10 D o u b le Jeopardy Clause. This claim is not ripe because no denial of good credits, p a r o le , or early release is alleged to have occurred. Even if Plaintiff had so a ll e g e d , the Court does not believe Plaintiff could assert a claim under the D o u b le Jeopardy Clause. See Gross v. Quarterman, Civil Action No. H-04-136, 2 0 0 7 WL 4411755, at *12 (S.D. Tex. Dec. 17, 2007) ("The denial of parole is not a n additional punishment for the original offense. Therefore, the fact that p e tit io n e r may be eligible for parole and yet remains confined without an e x p e c t a n c y of an early release cannot constitute a double jeopardy violation.") (c it in g Coronado v. United States Board of Parole, 540 F.2d 216 (5th Cir. 1976)). T h e Court thus agrees with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation that the d o u b le jeopardy claim be dismissed. I V . Conclusion T h e Court accepts the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge and D IS M IS S E S this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). It is so ORDERED. S I G N E D this 31st day of July, 2009. _________________________________ X A V IE R RODRIGUEZ U N I T E D STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 11

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