United States District Court, N.D. California
CARLOS H. ALMEIDA, Plaintiff,
CLARK E. DUCART, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OF SERVICE
DONATO United States District Judge.
a state prisoner, has filed a pro se civil rights complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He has been granted leave to
proceed in forma pauperis.
courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in
which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or
officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(a). In its review, the Court must identify any
cognizable claims, and dismiss any claims which are
frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted, or seek monetary relief from a defendant who
is immune from such relief. Id. at 1915A(b)(1), (2).
Pro se pleadings must be liberally construed. Balistreri
v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief." Although a complaint "does not
need detailed factual allegations, . . . a plaintiff's
obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do. . . . Factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level." Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). A
complaint must proffer "enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at
570. The United States Supreme Court has explained the
"plausible on its face" standard of
Twombly: "While legal conclusions can provide
the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by
factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual
allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege that: (1) a right secured by the Constitution or laws
of the United States was violated, and (2) the alleged
deprivation was committed by a person acting under the color
of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48
alleges that he was improperly validated as a gang member and
placed in the Secure Housing Unit ("SHU") and
improperly retained there. He argues this violated due
process, the Eighth Amendment, equal protection, and related
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects prisoners
from being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due
process of law. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539,
556 (1974). The procedural guarantees of the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments' Due Process Clauses apply only
when a constitutionally protected liberty or property
interest is at stake. See Ingraham v. Wright, 430
U.S. 651, 672-73 (1977). Liberty interests can arise both
from the Constitution and from state law. See Wilkinson
v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 221 (2005); Hewitt v.
Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 466 (1983). The Due Process Clause
itself does not confer on inmates a liberty interest in
avoiding "more adverse conditions of confinement."
Id. The Due Process Clause itself does not confer on
inmates a liberty interest in being confined in the general
prison population instead of administrative segregation.
See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 466-68.
respect to liberty interests arising from state law, the
existence of a liberty interest created by prison regulations
is determined by focusing on the nature of the deprivation.
Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 481-84 (1995).
Liberty interests created by prison regulations are limited
to freedom from restraint which "imposes atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the
ordinary incidents of prison life." Id. at 484.
When conducting the Sandin inquiry, Courts should
look to Eighth Amendment standards as well as the
prisoners' conditions of confinement, the duration of the
sanction, and whether the sanctions will affect the length of
the prisoners' sentence. See Serrano, 345 F.3d
at 1078. The placement of an inmate in the SHU
indeterminately may amount to a deprivation of a liberty
interest of "real substance" within the meaning of
Sandin. See Wilkinson, 545 U.S. at 224.
assignment of validated gang members to the SHU is an
administrative measure rather than a disciplinary measure,
and is "essentially a matter of administrative
segregation." Bruce v. Ylst, 351 F.3d 1283,
1287 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Munoz v. Rowland, 104
F.3d 1096, 1098 (9th Cir. 1997)). As such, a prisoner is
entitled to the minimal procedural protections set forth in
Toussaint, such as notice, an opportunity to be
heard, and periodic review. Bruce, 351 F.3d at 1287
(citing Toussaint, 801 F.2d at 1100). Due process
also requires that there be an evidentiary basis for the
prison officials' decision to place an inmate in
segregation for administrative reasons. Superintendent v.
Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 455 (1985); Toussaint, 801
F.2d at 1104-05. This standard is met if there is ‘some
evidence' from which the conclusion of the administrative
tribunal could be deduced. Id. at 1105. The standard
is only "minimally stringent" and the relevant
inquiry is whether there is any evidence in the record that
could support the conclusion reached by the prison
decision-makers. Cato v. Rushen, 824 F.2d 703, 705
(9th Cir.1987). The "some evidence" standard
applies to an inmate's placement in the SHU for gang
affiliation. See Bruce, 351 F.3d at 1287-88.
prisoner is placed in administrative segregation, prison
officials must, within a reasonable time after the
prisoner's placement, conduct an informal, non-adversary
review of the evidence justifying the decision to segregate
the prisoner. See Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 476,
abrogated in part on other grounds by Sandin, 515
U.S. 472 (1995). The Supreme Court has stated that five days
is a reasonable time for the post-placement review. See
Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 477. Before the review, the prisoner
must receive some notice of the charges and be given an
opportunity to respond to the charges. See id. at
476. The prisoner, however, is not entitled to "detailed
written notice of charges, representation of counsel or
counsel-substitute, an opportunity to present witnesses, or a
written decision describing the reasons for placing the
prisoner in administrative ...