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Williams v. Grannis

June 8, 2010


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



Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is defendants' November 9, 2009, motion to dismiss, to which plaintiff filed an opposition on November 30, 2009, after which defendants filed a reply on December 7, 2009.


Plaintiff names as defendants Chief of Inmate Appeals, N. Grannis; Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) Chief Disciplinary Hearing Officer D. B. Long; and MCSP Disciplinary Hearing Officer D. Chambers. Complaint, p. 4. Plaintiff alleges that he is not challenging the 60-day credit loss that he was assessed on being found guilty at his August 28, 2008, prison disciplinary hearing. Id., at 2. Rather, plaintiff states at one point that he challenges the disciplinary procedures that placed him in administrative segregation while his disciplinary hearing was pending which he alleges violated his due process rights. Id. Elsewhere, however, he focuses on a challenge to the procedures at the hearing, arguing that they violated due process. See below. Also, plaintiff has made a claim of retaliation as set forth in the following.

Plaintiff states that he arrived at MCSP on June 24, 2008, and thereafter on July 15, 2008, he challenged the adequacy of the Facility A law library. Complaint, p. 5. He was "sternly threatened," on July 16, 2008, by the law librarian, named Reece, not a defendant, about pursuing any effort to improve library services at MCSP. Id. at 6. Plaintiff was warned: "[n]o one has successfully challenged the law library and remained at Mule Creek Prison to see the results." Id. He was further informed on the same day by an inmate law library worker named Al Kembro that every previous inmate who had "challenged the law library" was shortly thereafter "'falsely charged-thrown in the hole (Ad Seg)- and transferred.'" Id.

On August 5, 2008, plaintiff was removed from his education assignment and interviewed by Sergeant R. J. Bueno, not a defendant, who directed plaintiff to drop his administrative grievance regarding the library, which plaintiff refused to do. Complaint, p. 7. Thereafter, Bueno informed plaintiff that Reece, the law librarian, believed plaintiff to be a threat to her and that she had seen plaintiff masturbating as he looked at her on the previous Saturday. Id. Plaintiff told Bueno that he had been with another inmate in the library that day, August 2, 2008, and had only stayed fifteen minutes, enough time to get copies. Id. Plaintiff was placed in Ad Seg*fn1 on August 5, 2008, on an unspecified charge with no date, time or place provided for the alleged over-familiar behavior. Id. at 8.

On August 7, 2008, Sgt. Bueno authored a chrono based on an anonymous note that plaintiff gets "sexually aroused when [he] gets in verbal confrontations with Ms. Reece." Complaint, p. 8. On August 19, 2008, plaintiff requested that Shirley, apparently his assigned investigative employee, interview the library workers who had worked on Saturday, August 2, 2008, and take their statements; interview and take a statement from the assigned female correctional officer who escorted and maintained order among the inmates going to and from the law library that day; copy the inmate law library log for that day; provide a statement from plaintiff's education instructor, Mr. Sand (not a party). Id., at 9. Shirley later told plaintiff that defendant Lieutenant Chambers told her that any request involving the law library or education department had to be denied, saying only that she could take plaintiff's statement. Id., at 10.

However, at the August 27, 2008 hearing, defendant Chambers refused to incorporate plaintiff's statement as part of his defense; refused to permit plaintiff to question the confidential source by ""/intercom; denied plaintiff's request for an inmate witness, Aaron Bjorkstrand, who had worked in the library and had relevant information. Complaint, pp. 10-11. Plaintiff was found guilty by defendant Chambers based on a hearsay anonymous note, which was not an accusation by Reece.*fn2 Id., at 11. When plaintiff told defendant Chambers he had violated his due process rights, that defendant stated: "[w]e just want you out of the administration." Id. Defendant Long, on August 28, 2008, reviewed plaintiff's rules violation report and defendant Chambers' disposition, as well as plaintiff's specific concerns detailing how he had been deprived of due process but failed to correct or instruct Chambers to rectify his findings and disposition. Id., at 12-13. Defendant Grannis, on September 10, 2008, was provided with information concerning plaintiff's having been issued a rules violation report (RVR) in retaliation for his use of the grievance procedure and of all the due process violations to which he had been subjected by the RVR and at the disciplinary hearing resulting in a finding of guilt based on insufficient evidence, but failed to correct either defendants Long or Chambers.

Id. at 13-15.

As relief, plaintiff seeks only injunctive relief from the court: to have the findings of the disciplinary hearing invalidated as violative of his Fourteenth Amendment due process rights; to hold an in camera hearing to determine the sufficiency of the confidential information evidence; and to be placed back into general population pending any investigation. Complaint, p. 5.


Before considering defendants' motion to dismiss, the court finds that there is a threshold jurisdictional issue that must be addressed sua sponte. Plaintiff appears to bring this § 1983 action claiming that he does not challenge the credit loss but nevertheless seeking to invalidate the disciplinary findings on due process grounds in an effort to circumvent the state court exhaustion requirements for a federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the result of which would be to engage this heavily burdened court in what is a fruitless academic exercise. See 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 276, 92 S.Ct. 509 (1971); Middleton v. Cupp, 768 F.2d 1083, 1086 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 478 U.S. 1021 (1986). The court finds that plaintiff's claims seeking injunctive/declaratory relief are moot. There is no "presumption of collateral consequences to prison disciplinary proceedings." Wilson v. Terhune, 319 F.3d 477, 481 (9th Cir. 2003). Thus, a declaration of due process violations is meaningless. Moreover, there is no needed injunctive relief. Plaintiff does not challenge the loss of behavioral time ...

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