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Jones v. Maxfield

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 22, 2016

MARK A. JONES, Plaintiff
v.
MAXFIELD, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOCUMENT 54) THIRTY-DAY OBJECTION DEADLINE ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR EVIDENTIARY HEARING (DOCUMENT 55)

          Dennis L. Beck UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Mark A. Jones (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. Plaintiff filed his complaint on December 3, 2012. It is proceeding on his Second Amended Complaint against Defendant Maxfield for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment.[1]

         Defendant Maxfield filed the instant motion for summary judgment on March 1, 2016.[2]In opposition, Plaintiff filed a motion for an evidentiary hearing. Defendant filed a reply, along with evidentiary objections, on June 28, 2016. The motion is ready for decision pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Any party may move for summary judgment, and the Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a) (quotation marks omitted); Washington Mutual Inc. v. U.S., 636 F.3d 1207, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). Each party’s position, whether it be that a fact is disputed or undisputed, must be supported by (1) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including but not limited to depositions, documents, declarations, or discovery; or (2) showing that the materials cited do not establish the presence or absence of a genuine dispute or that the opposing party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1) (quotation marks omitted). The Court may consider other materials in the record not cited to by the parties, but it is not required to do so. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3); Carmen v. San Francisco Unified School Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001); accord Simmons v. Navajo County, Ariz., 609 F.3d 1011, 1017 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Defendant does not bear the burden of proof at trial and in moving for summary judgment, she need only prove an absence of evidence to support Plaintiff’s case. In re Oracle Corp. Securities Litigation, 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986)). If Defendant meets her initial burden, the burden then shifts to Plaintiff “to designate specific facts demonstrating the existence of genuine issues for trial.” In re Oracle Corp., 627 F.3d at 387 (citing Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323). This requires Plaintiff to “show more than the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence.” Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986)).

         In judging the evidence at the summary judgment stage, the Court may not make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence, Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir. 2007) (quotation marks and citation omitted), and it must draw all inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and determine whether a genuine issue of material fact precludes entry of judgment, Comite de Jornaleros de Redondo Beach v. City of Redondo Beach, 657 F.3d 936, 942 (9th Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citation omitted), cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 1566 (2012). The Court determines only whether there is a genuine issue for trial, and Plaintiff’s filings must be liberally construed because he is a pro se prisoner. Thomas v. Ponder, 611 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir. 2010) (quotation marks and citations omitted).

         II.SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF’S ALLEGATIONS[3]

         At all times relevant to Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant Maxfield, he was housed at the California State Prison-Corcoran’s (“Corcoran”) Administrative Segregation Unit (“Ad-Seg”) and the Security Housing Unit (“SHU”).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Maxfield retaliated against him after he confronted her “with the facts of his gang affiliation and that he is no gang member.” ECF No. 20, at 28. On May 20, 2012, Plaintiff showed Defendant two CDCR 128G chronos that demonstrated that he was not a Black Guerilla Family (“BGF”) member.

         Defendant Maxfield then became angry with Plaintiff and started putting “lies” on his CDCR 128G Chrono to make his arrest record look worse. ECF No. 20, at 28. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Defendant Maxfield placed an “R” suffix on his chrono so that he would be transferred to a higher security prison.

         Plaintiff filed his first grievance on August 13, 2012. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Maxfield repeatedly threatened to transfer him for filing a grievance about his BGF membership.

         III. UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS[4]

         Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) and was incarcerated at Corcoran from March 9, 2011, through March 4, 2014. Plaintiff was a Level IV inmate while housed at Corcoran and was housed in Ad-Seg from February 2, 2012, through July 30, 2012, and the SHU from July 30, 2012, until his transfer to Pelican Bay State Prison (“Pelican Bay”) on March 7, 2014. Pl.’s Dep. 15:20-16:17 (attached as Ex. I to Mayer Decl.).

         During all relevant times, Defendant Maxfield worked as Corcoran’s Ad-Seg Correctional Counselor I (“CC-I”). Maxfield Decl. ¶ 2. Her duties included reviewing an inmate’s file and making placement recommendations to the Institutional Classification Committee (“ICC”). Maxfield Decl. ¶ 4. The ICC would then vote on the recommendations and send them to the Classification Staff Representative (“CSR”) for endorsement. Maxfield Decl. ¶ 5.

         On February 2, 2012, Plaintiff was transferred from Corcoran’s Level IV General Population to Ad-Seg based on an investigation into his association/affiliation with the BGF prison gang. A validation package was submitted to the Office of Correctional Safety (“OCS”) for validation review. Defendant Maxfield was not involved in this process. Maxfield Decl. ¶ 9.

         Based on Plaintiff’s transfer to Ad-Seg, Defendant Maxfield was his assigned CC-I and caseworker. Maxfield Decl. ¶ 10; Pl’s Dep. 62:18-63:2.

         Defendant Maxfield met with Plaintiff before his initial Ad-Seg Review Committee to explain the Committee process and discuss what her initial recommendations to the Committee would be. Maxfield Decl. ¶ 10; Pl.’s Dep. 63:8-13.[5]

         During Plaintiff’s February 16, 2012, Initial Ad-Seg Review Committee hearing, Defendant Maxfield was the assigned Recorder for this ICC. The ICC elected to refer Plaintiff’s case to the CSR, recommending that Plaintiff be retained in Ad-Seg for an additional ninety days pending the gang re-validation process by OCS. Plaintiff disagreed with his placement in Ad-Seg and the gang validation process. Maxfield Decl. ¶ 10, Ex. A.

         On April 5, 2012, Plaintiff was re-validated as a member of the BGF. At that time, validated gang members were typically housed in either Corcoran’s SHU or Pelican Bay’s SHU to serve their indeterminate SHU terms. Maxfield Decl. ¶¶ 12, 13, Ex. C.

         On April 26, 2012, another ICC was held based on Plaintiff’s validation. Defendant Maxfield was Plaintiff’s caseworker and Recorder for this ICC. The ICC elected to refer Plaintiff’s case to CSR, recommending transfer to Corcoran’s SHU, with an alternate recommendation to Pelican Bay’s SHU, for an indeterminate SHU term. Plaintiff ...


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