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Haddix v. Burris

United States District Court, N.D. California

March 10, 2015

C/O SEAN BURRIS; et al., Defendants.


EDWARD M. CHEN, District Judge.


This is a pro se prisoner's civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which the remaining claims are that defendant correctional sergeant J. Frisk ordered a cell search and a move to a cell with a Lexan front for Terrence Lloyd Haddix, Jr., in retaliation for the latter's First Amendment activities. Sergeant Frisk now moves for summary judgment and Mr. Haddix opposes the motion. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be denied with regard to the cell search and granted with regard to the move to the Lexan cell. The action will be referred to the Pro Se Prisoner Mediation Program.


The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted:

The events in question took place in May - July 2011 at Pelican Bay State Prison. At the time, Mr. Haddix was incarcerated in the security housing unit ("SHU") at Pelican Bay. Docket #

Defendant J. Frisk was a correctional sergeant "in the Institutional Gang Investigators Unit at Pelican Bay. In this role [he] was primarily responsible for gathering intelligence on potential inmate gang activity. As a Correctional Sergeant, [he] was also responsible for supervising and training subordinate correctional officers in the safe custody, discipline, and welfare of the inmates at Pelican Bay. In particular, [he] was frequently required to train subordinate correctional officers on proper cell search procedures." Docket # 41 (Frisk Decl.) at 1-2.

Sean Burris was a correctional officer ("C/O") in the Institutional Gang Investigations Unit ("IGI"), and was assigned to Pelican Bay. Docket # 21 at 3.

A. Inmate Appeals And Letters

In about May 2011, C/O Burris investigated Mr. Haddix to determine whether he qualified for release from the SHU due to prolonged inactivity in a gang. Id. Mr. Haddix disagreed with something C/O Burris wrote about him. Id. at 3-4.[1] On May 16, 2011, Mr. Haddix submitted a CDCR-22 request for an interview to C/O Burris to discuss the matter. C/O Burris denied the request the next day, stating that Mr. Haddix already had an interview with him regarding the information obtained during the gang inactivity investigation. See Docket # 21 at 4, 19. On May 17, 2011, Mr. Haddix resubmitted the request for supervisor-level review, and on May 20, 2011, IGI sergeant Pieren responded unsatisfactorily to Mr. Haddix's request. See id. at 4-5.

On May 25, 2011, Mr. Haddix filed a CDCR-602 inmate appeal and a CDCR-1858 staff complaint against C/O Burris. id. at 5. The inmate appeal was rejected two days later because Mr. Haddix had exceeded the allowable number of inmate appeals in a 14-day period. Id. On June 12, 2011, Mr. Haddix refiled the appeal and supporting documents. Id.

On May 26, 2011, Mr. Haddix sent a letter to warden Lewis, complaining about C/O Burris' actions. Id. The letter was returned to Mr. Haddix on June 17, 2011 by a correctional officer. The envelope had a May 31, 2011 postmark and also had a June 1, 2011 date stamp, although the date stamp does not show who put it there. See id. at 6, 34. Inside the envelope was Mr. Haddix's letter to warden Lewis as well as a typed note from sergeant Frisk stating: "If you have a complaint against IGI staff, you need to submit a staff complaint to the Appeal coordinator and follow the guidelines set forth in the California Code of Regulations, Title 15, section 3084, Inmate Appeals.'" Docket # 21 at 6, 34.[2]

On June 1, 2011, Mr. Haddix wrote a letter to Anthony Chaus, head of the office of correctional safety ("OCS") complaining about C/O Burris' actions. Id. at 5. On June 17, 2011, Everett Fischer of the OCS sent Mr. Haddix a letter stating that, on June 14, 2011, the OCS was requested to respond to Mr. Haddix's June 1, 2011 letter. Id. at 39. Mr. Fischer wrote that C/O Burris did not work for the OCS and was instead assigned to Pelican Bay; as a result, Mr. Fischer had forwarded Mr. Haddix's letter to warden Lewis, and told Mr. Haddix that he could contact his inmate counselor or Pelican Bay public information officer lieutenant Acosta if he had further questions. Id.

B. The June 13 Cell Search

A regulation provided the following regarding cell searches: "Inspections of inmate cell or living areas, property, work areas, and body shall be conducted on an unannounced, random basis as directed by the institution head. Such inspections shall be conducted no more frequently than necessary to control contraband, recover missing or stolen property, or maintain proper security of the institution." 15 Cal. Code Regs. § 3287(c). The CDCR Operations Manual § 52050.16 provided that "[p]ost orders shall require that a minimum of three cells, rooms, dorms or living areas in each housing unit is searched daily on each of the second and third watches by the assigned unit officer." Docket # 55-4 at 79.

On June 13, 2011, while Mr. Haddix was on the yard, C/O Chavez searched his cell. C/O Chavez conducted the search at the direction of sergeant Frisk. C/O Chavez approached sergeant Frisk "and inquired as to whether the IGI Unit needed any help. At that time, [C/O Chavez] was a relatively new officer and had only been assigned to Pelican Bay for approximately four months. [Sergeant] Frisk responded in the affirmative, and he indicated a cell for [C/O Chavez] to search, which Mr. Haddix was assigned to at the time." Docket # 64 at 2.

Although the parties agree that Mr. Haddix's cell was searched and that the search was pursuant to sergeant Frisk's directive, they disagree as to sergeant Frisk's reasons for choosing Mr. Haddix's cell to be searched. Mr. Haddix states that, in response to his inquiries at the time of the search, C/O Chavez told him "that IGI had ordered him to strip and search Plaintiff's cell real good, '" that the search was "conducted as a scare tactic for a problem inmate.'" Docket # 21 at 5-6. Mr. Haddix further states that C/O Chavez later told him: "I went to IGI to find out why I was ordered to search your cell and they couldn't even look me in the eye.' Officer Chavez went on to say, I found out, Haddix, that IGI used me to try to scare you into dropping your complaint.'" Id. at 6.[3]

C. More Inmate Appeals And Letters

On June 19, 2011, Mr. Haddix sent a second letter to warden Lewis complaining about C/O Burris and sergeant Frisk. He did not receive a response. Docket # 21 at 7.

While being interviewed for a different inmate appeal on June 20, 2011, Mr. Haddix asked sergeant Frisk why he ordered a cell search and expressed his belief that it was retaliatory for Mr. Haddix's staff complaint against C/O Burris and letter to warden Lewis. Docket # 21 at 7. Sergeant Frisk stated that as of June 13, 2011, he had no knowledge of the complaint or letter. Id. Elsewhere, Mr. Haddix states that sergeant Frisk "began to smirk" and said "the ...

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