The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Run Chhoun, an inmate on death row at San Quentin State Prison,
filed this pro se action in state court, alleging that he had
been deprived of various constitutional rights in connection with
his placement on property control status for 90 days at San
Quentin State Prison. The matter is now before the court on
defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court will grant
defendants' motion and enter judgment in their favor.
Run Chhoun filed an unverified complaint in which he alleged
that he had been deprived of various constitutional rights in
connection with his placement on a 90-day "property control"
status at San Quentin. The complaint alleged that property
control allowed a "prisoner to be stripped of all his personal
property that is approved and allowed for him to purchase,
receive, create, produce, own and possess in his cell."
Complaint, p. 10. More significantly, the complaint alleged that property control meant that Chhoun was
"immediately placed in a stripped solitary confinement cell for
(90) ninety days," id., and was "totally confined to said cell
for the first ten days and let out of said cell during the
following eighty days for only ten hours per week or less for
exercise in a solitary confinement exercise cage." Id. at 16.
Defendants removed this action to federal court based on
federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441(b).
The court reviewed the complaint and found that it stated
cognizable claims for relief for violations of Chhoun's rights
under the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment Due Process
Clause and Eighth Amendment.
Defendants next moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Chhoun opposed the motion. The court denied
the motion because it could not be said that Chhoun could prove
no set of facts which would entitle him to relief consistent with
the allegations of the complaint. The court cautioned, however,
that its Rule 12(b)(6) analysis was limited to the allegations in
the complaint, and noted that a different result might occur when
facts outside the complaint's allegations were considered because
the parties' papers had indicated that the actual restrictions
were far less severe than suggested by the allegations of the
complaint. Aug. 3, 2004 Order, p. 3.
Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Chhoun has
The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted:
Chhoun is an inmate on death row at San Quentin State Prison.
He is assigned to the Grade B program and to a single walk-alone
exercise yard.*fn1 The single walk-alone yards (called "cages" by Chhoun) are 10 feet by 15 feet outdoor facilities
constructed of chain-link fencing.
Inmates assigned to the Grade B program are entitled to
state-issued clothing including denim pants, chambray shirts,
boxer shorts, socks, t-shirts, jackets, watch caps, and soft-sole
canvas shoes. They also are entitled to these state-issued items:
toothbrush, comb, wash cloths, towels, tooth powder, toilet
paper, bar soap, detergent, mattress, pillow, sheets, blankets,
trash bag, CDC rule book, Title 15 of the California Code of
Regulations, court decisions, plastic pen refill, indigent
envelopes, and writing paper. In addition to the state-issued
items, Grade B inmates are allowed to have personal non-state
issued property, such as televisions, radios, newspapers and
magazines; property control affects only items in this last
Adjustment Center inmates who engage in disruptive behavior may
be placed on property-control status for an initial 90-day
period. Property control restricts the inmate from possessing
non-state issued property but does not restrict him from
possessing state-issued items. A March 6, 2002, memorandum sent
to inmates and staff described San Quentin's revised procedure
for property control: "Essentially all Adjustment Center inmates
who demonstrate the propensity of violence (i.e., Battery on
staff, planning to batter staff or inmates, gassings, assaults
upon other inmates, disruptive behavior) will be placed on
`Property Control' for an initial period of ninety (90) days.
Inmates demonstrating the aforementioned behavior will be placed
on property restriction immediately." Brau Decl., Exh. B. The
memorandum stated that institutional classification committee
("ICC") review of the restriction would occur at the beginning
and end of the 90-day period. The memorandum described the
property that would be taken away during the 90-day period: all
personal property including personal clothing, electrical
appliances, and in-cell hobby material. Additionally, there would
be no quarterly/annual packages, no canteen purchases and "[no]
Leisure reading material (religious and legal not included)."
Id. Finally, the memorandum stated that inmates would be
entitled to one box equal to one cubic foot of legal materials
during the 90-day period. After the 90-day period ended, the
property would be returned to the inmate unless a decision was
made by the ICC to keep him on property control.
Chhoun and several other inmates were put on 90-day property
control on April 22, 2002 for engaging in disruptive behavior. The incident that
precipitated the decision to put them on property control was a
refusal by the 14 inmates on the exercise yards to exit the yards
and return to their cells. Chhoun states that he was never
personally asked to exit the yard and never refused to do so. The
court need not decide whether Chhoun was involved in the incident
in order to resolve his constitutional claims.
When he was put on property control, Chhoun received a notice
of program review before the ICC. The property control
restrictions were implemented on April 22 or April 23 and the ICC
hearing was on April 25. The following items were removed from
Chhoun's cell: 2 soft-covered books, 2 magazines, an address
book, letters, legal materials, writing materials, and 3 postage