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Mitchell v. Adams

March 5, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge



Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court are plaintiff's two motions to compel further responses/production of documents, filed on, respectively, 6/06/08, and 7/24/08, to both of which defendants have filed their opposition and after service of each of which plaintiff filed a reply.

This motion shows the non-fit of ordinary civil case procedures to a prisoner civil rights action. The resources that could be spent elsewhere for many in prison for substantive needs are instead expended in a search for documents requested by one prisoner in one case. Courts generally labor under the misconception that there is no end of resources, both monetary and time, that can be applied to individual prisoner actions. On the other hand, without court oversight, or even the specter thereof, many legitimate claims of constitutional deprivation would never see the light of day in that the prisons have seemingly instituted no effective way to police day-to day, administrative misconduct. An institution without external oversight is often an institution which becomes a law unto itself, and at times a bad law. Regardless, the undersigned is tasked with applying general discovery rules, and the following order attempts to do so.


This action proceeds on the original complaint, filed on 10/20/06, as modified by the Order, filed on 3/03/08, adopting the Findings and Recommendations, filed on 2/04/08. At this point, plaintiff proceeds upon claims for money damages against the following defendants employed at two state prisons: 1) Corcoran State Prison Employees: D. G. Adams, D.D. Ortiz, K. Daviega,*fn1 J.A. Diaz, T. Galaviz, B. Streeter, P. Chatham, J. Hill, R. Hubach, A. Morrison, J. Diaz, S. Tellerico; and 2) High Desert State Prison Employees: D. Vanderville, B. Epperson, J. Owen, D. Hellwig. Plaintiff expressly states that he has exhausted his administrative remedies as to "all facts" presented in his complaint as of September 22, 2006. He also alleges that his State Board of Control claim was denied on September 27, 2006. Complaint, p. 16.

Plaintiff was incarcerated at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) at the time of filing his complaint.*fn2 He alleges that defendants at both Corcoran State Prison (CSP) and HDSP "collectively conspired" to violate his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Id.

Plaintiff contends that his conflict with defendants D.G. Adams, D.D. Ortiz, K. Daviega, J.A. Diaz, T. Galaviz, B. Streeter, P. Chatham, J. Hill, R. Hubach, A. Morrison, J. Diaz and S. Tellerico started following his arrival at CSP on December 17, 2004. From then until March 21, 2006, plaintiff filed numerous complaints against these defendants and other CSP correctional officers (C/Os). Id., at 17.

On December 6, 2005, plaintiff submitted a grievance to the above-named defendants, alleging discrimination against African American inmates in compelling them, including plaintiff, to double cell with African American prisoners only, forcing non-affiliated African American inmates, including plaintiff, to double cell with those who participated in active inmate gangs and by punishing plaintiff and other non-gang affiliated African American inmates for serious rule violations committed by the gang participants. Id.

On December 21, 2005, plaintiff was interviewed by defendant J.A. Diaz, regarding the Dec. 6, 2005, grievance. Defendant J.A. Diaz stated: "Mitchell, your ass is still here! I'm going to see to it that your ass gets transferred out of Corcoran because we're tired of you filing complaints." He went on to tell plaintiff that defendant Warden D. G. Adams told him to interview plaintiff as to the Dec. 6, 2005, grievance. Defendant J.A. Diaz noted that plaintiff's complaint involved the potential lockdown of the entire African American inmate population related to the Dec. 13, 2005, scheduled execution of "Crip gang leader, Stanley 'Tookie' Williams," and discrimination against African American inmates in housing and punishment.

Id., at 17-18.

After plaintiff explained his complaint as to housing and punishment of African American inmates, defendant J.A. Diaz noted that plaintiff had been filing complaints against CSP administration every month since his arrival and informed plaintiff that he had just attended a staff meeting with defendants Warden Adams and Associate Warden Ortiz, and several C/O's from the yard "where we discussed your complaint filing and your assisting other inmates with their complaint filing against staff." Defendant J.A. Diaz told plaintiff that "we're" not going to tolerate his continued complaint filing, that the method of housing and disciplining of African American inmates would not change, and that plaintiff would be transferred from CSP. Id., at 18-19.

Upon plaintiff's stating that he would file a complaint because defendant J.A. Diaz was violating his First Amendment rights, defendant J.A. Diaz informed plaintiff that he had no rights other than "what we give you." He also told plaintiff that he had instructed defendant Appeals Coordinators T. Galaviz and B. Streeter and all of his staff to no longer address plaintiff's complaints because plaintiff was going to be transferred from CSP. Id., at 19.

On Dec. 30, 2005, plaintiff filed a grievance (CSPC-3-06-00115) against defendant J. Hill for threatening plaintiff's safety/life. On Jan. 4, 2006, plaintiff was called to defendant J. Diaz's office, where J. Diaz was present along with defendants J.A. Diaz and S. Tellerico, and plaintiff was informed by these defendants that they were putting plaintiff up for transfer to "a 180 prison" because plaintiff had filed too many complaints and defendant Warden Adams had told them to transfer plaintiff out of CSP. Plaintiff informed these defendants that he had not gotten any disciplinary write-ups in the form of CDC-115's at CSP and asked why his security housing level was being upgraded and he was to be transferred to a "180 design prison." Id., at 20.

Defendants J. Diaz and Tellerico told plaintiff that "we don't want your kind here, so you're being transferred," while defendant J.A. Diaz referred back to his Dec. 21, 2005, interview with plaintiff, telling plaintiff that people like him "who file lawsuits and complaints are troublemakers and they have to go." Plaintiff replied that he would be filing a complaint against each of these individuals, to which defendant J. A. Diaz responded: "[T]his is why we're transferring you, to avoid having to respond to anymore of your complaints. We'll get rid of you and we won't have to respond to, or return any of your complaints you have pending." Id., at 21.

On Feb. 22, 2006, defendant J. Hill called plaintiff into his office about complaint no. CSPC -3-06-00652, which plaintiff had filed against defendant A. Morrison. Defendant Hill told plaintiff that he wanted to talk to him about the grievance against Morrison which plaintiff had filed contending that Morrison had confiscated and destroyed plaintiff's legal documents, as well as about CSPC-3-06-0115, which plaintiff had filed against defendant Hill for threatening plaintiff's safety. Id., at 21-22.

Defendant Hill called defendant Morrison to his office and Hill told plaintiff to explain the circumstances giving rise to the grievance, whereupon plaintiff said that, on Nov. 12, 2005, defendant Morrison stopped plaintiff as he carried envelopes containing legal material and asked plaintiff what was in the envelopes. Plaintiff told Morrison that he was on the way to the law library to conduct legal research and to mail out his legal documents and showed Morrison the documents, whereupon defendant Morrison snatched up the documents and tore them up, telling plaintiff he could not have them. Plaintiff explained that they had been sent to him by the state attorney general's office and concerned a pending case of his and were not contraband. Morrison told plaintiff that the documents pertained to a lawsuit against correctional staff and that they were "'FLSA' time sheets" that plaintiff could not have. Plaintiff told Morrison that his having destroyed the documents sent by the attorney general's office before plaintiff had had a chance to address appeal issues violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, to which Morrison replied that he did not care about plaintiff's rights and stated that since plaintiff had arrived, inmates had started filing lawsuits and staff complaints had increased. Id., at 22-23.

When Morrison tore up the documents, plaintiff informed him that he would file a complaint against him to which Morrison responded that he did not care "because don't you know that correctional staff at Corcoran don't find other correctional staff guilty of rule violations. Nothing is going to happen." Id., at 24.

When defendant Hill asked defendant Morrison if plaintiff's version of events had occurred as plaintiff told it, defendant Morrison stated "yes," and also said that he had told plaintiff they were tired of him and his complaint filing. When plaintiff told defendant Hill that in light of Morrison's admission that plaintiff expected Hill to hold Morrison accountable to departmental policy and procedure, defendant Hill "became enraged," approaching plaintiff with a clenched fist and shouting, inter alia, "I don't give a rat's ass about you or your complaints. We run this fucking yard the way we see fit and we don't have to answer to anyone. Now, I'm telling you to drop your complaints, if you know what's good for you." Id., at 24-25.

Defendant Morrison then threatened plaintiff with a "blanket party," saying "if you keep on snitching and filing complaints, we're going to come an[d] pay your ass a visit dressed all in black and snatch your ass out of your cell at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning and beat your ass! We've done this shit before and we'll do your ass too!" Both defendants laughed and warned plaintiff to drop grievances nos. CSPC-3-06-00115 and CSPC -3-06-00652, and were heard by unidentified inmates and correctional staff. The next day, Feb. 23, 2006, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendants Hill and Morrison for the incident of Feb. 22, 2006, no. CSPC-3-06-01022. Id., at 25-26.

On Feb. 25, 2006, defendant R. Hubach interviewed plaintiff about grievance no. CSPC-3-06-00115, telling plaintiff that defendants Warden Adams, Assoc. Warden Ortiz, and Captain Daviega, his supervisors, were tired of plaintiff's constant "snitching" and complaint filing and had told Hubach to make the complaint "go away." He told plaintiff that it could be in his "best interest" to withdraw CSPC-3-06-00115. When plaintiff protested, defendant Hubach told him that if the complaint was not dropped, plaintiff would be put in administrative segregation (ad seg), "and we will see to it [] that you don't go home on your release date." Plaintiff withdrew the grievance in fear for his life and of losing his release date. Defendant Hubach's statements were made in front of unidentified inmates and correctional staff. Id., at 26-27.

Plaintiff reports that on March 17, 2006, Corr. Counselor Smooth "became verbally hostile" with Inmate Wimberly, yelling because Wimberly had put his name in a report with which he did not wish to be associated, concerning the Feb. 24, 2006, incident in defendant Hill's office (concerning plaintiff's being admonished to drop CSPC-3-06-01022, about the earlier Feb. 22, 2006, incident in Hill's office).

On March 21, 2006, before plaintiff received any appeal responses to grievances CSPC-3-06-00115, CSPC -3-06-00652 or CSPC-3-06-01022 or his complaint relating to classification and cell assignment of African American inmates, plaintiff was transferred to HDSP, with increased security level housing status, where he was housed on a 180 design yard for inmates with serious disciplinary problems. Upon his arrival at HDSP, he was forced into a holding cell for African American inmates only and all of his legal and personal property were contraband. Id., at 30-31.

Plaintiff was interviewed by three unnamed correctional lieutenants who told him that at HDSP all cell and job assignments, etc., were made by race. Plaintiff was told that there were no "'black cells'" on the 270 design yard and because of what had happened between himself and CSP correctional staff, he would be housed in a 180 design special housing unit for "'black inmates with serious disciplinary problems.'" Id., at 31.

On March 23, 2006, plaintiff was interviewed by three unit classification committee members (UCC), defendants D. Vanderville, D. Hellwig, and J. Owen, who told plaintiff that he was "a non-adverse transfer from Corcoran," but that there was a memo from CSP UCC members defendants J.A. Diaz, J. Diaz, and Tellerico, saying that plaintiff files complaints and lawsuits and must be housed at an increased security housing level and on 180 design special housing. Id., at 31-32.

Plaintiff was told by defendants Vanderville, Hellwig, and Owen that he would be housed on the C-Facility 180 yard because he was black, there were no open "black cells" on the 270 yard, and because Corcoran had so advised them. When plaintiff protested that he could be housed with any race, according to departmental policy and procedure, and that he had no disciplinary sanctions from CSP and did not display aberrant behavior to warrant increasing his security status from 270 to 180, he was told by these defendants that he was being upgraded because he filed "too many lawsuits and complaints on staff," and this way he could be confined to his cell for 23 hours a day which would prevent him from engaging in such activity. Id., at 32-33.

Plaintiff complained that the CSR*fn3 endorsed him for housing on a 270 design yard, to which defendants Vanderville, Hellwig, and Owen replied that they did not have to follow the endorsement, that plaintiff was black and no black cells on the 270 yard were open, that even if there were, he would not be housed there based on Corcoran's administration having said to upgrade his security housing level. Plaintiff said that when he had arrived at HDSP Receiving and Release (R&R), he had arrived with white, Hispanic, and Asian inmates who were taken to be housed on the 270 yard. In addition to being housed on a 270 design yard, he asked that he receive a clerk position equivalent to the job assignment as GED clerk he had had at CSP with a pay number. These defendants told plaintiff the other inmates who were sent to be housed on the 270 design yard were not black and did not file complaints and lawsuits against staff and that at HDSP, "everything is done according to race" and black inmates who sue correctional staff do not receive clerk assignments. Plaintiff complained of a violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights for which he intended to file a complaint. Id., at 33-34.

Also, on March 23, 2006, plaintiff contacted his attorney, Robert A. Bailey, to enlist his help in securing his legal and personal property so that plaintiff could meet court deadlines. HDSP's Litigation Coordinator told his lawyer that she would track down plaintiff's legal property to give to plaintiff.

On March 30, 2006, plaintiff filed a 602 appeal no. HDSP-C-06-00807, concerning his transfer and the classification/cell assignment of African American inmates. On April 6, 2006, defendant B. Epperson escorted plaintiff to R&R, where much of his legal and personal property had been damaged and was confiscated, including, among other items, a cassette radio, new razors, a doctor-prescribed knee/ankle brace wrap, a pair of Nike shower shoes, a new hair brush, a pair of head phones, a pack of T-shirts, a pair of Reebok tennis shoes, a beard trimmer. Legal property confiscated included a Black's Law Dictionary, Deering's desktop ...

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