United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
GONZALEZ ROGERS United States District Judge.
February 3, 2015,  Jose Manuel Carranza, a state prisoner,
filed the instant pro se action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff challenges his validation as a
gang member and placement in the Secure Housing Unit
(“SHU”) at Pelican Bay State Prison
(“PBSP”), where he was previously incarcerated.
Dkt. 1. Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief and monetary
damages. Id. at 62-64. At the time he filed the instant
complaint, Plaintiff had informed the Court that he
“originally filed this complaint on March 21,
2014.” Id. at 9. The following background
relating to Plaintiff's prior action is taken from the
Court's July 20, 2015 Order of Partial Dismissal; and
Serving Cognizable Claims:
The Court notes that Plaintiff is referring to the second
amended complaint that he filed in his prior action, Case No.
C 13-3337 YGR (PR). Dkt. 24 in Case No. C 13-3337 YGR (PR).
After the Court had ordered service of the claims in his
prior action (but before Defendants filed their answer),
Plaintiff moved for voluntary dismissal so that he could
exhaust his administrative remedies. Dkt. 30 in Case No. C
13-3337 YGR (PR). Plaintiff claimed that while he had
exhausted his prison administrative remedies, he had failed
to file a claim for damages with the California Victim
Compensation and Government Claims Board
(“CVCGCB”). Id. at 2-3.
On July 25, 2014, pursuant to Plaintiff's notice of
voluntary dismissal, the Court terminated his prior action.
Dkt. 31 in Case No. C 13-3337 YGR (PR) at 1. The Court noted
that the dismissal was without prejudice. Id.
On September 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed a claim with the
CVCGCB, which did not act on his claim within forty-five
days; therefore, he claims this constitutes a denial. Dkt. 1
at 9-10 (citing Cal. Gov't Code § 912.4(c)).
at 1-2. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed his complaint in the
instant action, raising the same allegations that he brought
in his prior action, and he has named all of the same
Defendants, except Sergeant A. B. Gomez. Compare
Dkt. 1 at 5-10 to Dkt. 24 in Case No. C 13-3337 YGR (PR) at
12. Thus, in the instant action, the named Defendants from
PBSP are as follows: Warden G. D. Lewis; Chief Deputy Warden
P. T. Smith; Facility Captain K. Cruse; Sergeant R. Randow;
and Licensed Clinical Social Worker V. Cappello. Dkt. 1 at 5.
Meanwhile, the named Defendants from the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
(“CDCR”) in Sacramento are the following:
Director Matthew Cate; Appeals Examiner K. J. Allen; Inmate
Appeals Branch Chiefs R. Manuel and D. Foston; Special
Services Unit Special Agents B. Kinroton, D. S. McClure,
Buechner, S. S. Kissel and C. M. Rojers. Id.
following background relating to Plaintiff's claims is
also taken from the Court's July 20, 2015 Order of
Partial Dismissal; and Serving Cognizable Claims:
Plaintiff challenges his July 8, 2009 placement and resulting
retention in administrative segregation in the SHU on the
basis of his alleged association with the Mexican Mafia
(“EME”) prison gang. Plaintiff denies that he is a gang
associate, and alleges multiple violations of the federal and
state constitutions stemming from his placement and retention
in the SHU. Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that he is serving
a prison term of twenty-seven years to life with the
possibility of parole. Dkt. 1 at 32. Although he is now in
general population, Plaintiff claims that prison officials
“continue to classify [him] as a validated Mexican
mafia associate.” Dkt. 2 at 1-2. Plaintiff explains
that he is now on a “twelve-month observational period
in  general population, ” where due to his status as
a gang associate, he is subjected to aggressive searches,
urinalysis testing, and excessive monitoring of visitors,
phone calls, and mail. Id. at 1. Also, Plaintiff
emphasizes that he can be sent back to the SHU indefinitely
if he is written up for a rules violation and that his gang
validation renders him ineligible for parole. Id. at
2. Thus, Plaintiff argues that he “continues to suffer
continuous harm and discipline and punishment as a result of
CDCR[']s erroneous validation.” Id.
Plaintiff also objects that his “validation as an
associate is based on his ethnic group as a southern Hispanic
rather than actual gang activity.” Id.
According to CDCR policy and practice, Plaintiff can only
remove his gang associate status if he debriefs or provides
information incriminating other prisoners. Plaintiff argues
that under this policy he can never remove his status because
he is unable to debrief because he is not a gang associate,
and he has no inculpatory evidence to provide prison
officials. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges the following
(1) a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process
rights based upon Defendants' placement of Plaintiff in
long-term administrative segregation in the SHU without a
fair hearing and Defendants' failure to act and
investigate Plaintiff's claim that he is not a prison
(2) a violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free of
cruel and unusual punishment based on Plaintiff's
erroneous classification as a gang associate and placement in
the SHU at PBSP;
(3) a violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free of
cruel and unusual punishment based on Defendants' failure
to act and investigate Plaintiff's claim that he is not a
prison gang associate;
(4) a violation of his Fifth Amendment due process right
against self-incrimination based on Defendants'
requirement that Plaintiff becomes an informant about gang
activities in order to be released from the SHU;
(5) a violation of the terms of the settlement agreement in
Castillo v. Alameida, No. 94-2847 MJJ (PR) (N.D.
Cal.), based on Defendants' placement of Plaintiff in
long-term administrative segregation in the SHU on the basis
of evidence that is unreliable and insufficient;
(6) a violation of his state-created liberty interest in
release from the SHU;
(7) a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process right
by Defendants promulgating, enforcing and implementing prison
rules and regulations that are vague and overbroad;
(8) a violation of his First Amendment right of association
on the ground that Plaintiff's indefinite confinement in
the SHU prevents him from associating with other prisoners;
(9&10) violations of various provisions of California
constitutional and statutory law;
(11) a violation of his rights due to certain Defendants'
failures, in their supervisory capacity, to establish lawful
policies and procedures and to train their subordinate
(12) a violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free
from cruel and unusual punishment on the ground that
Defendants' requirement that Plaintiff debrief and become
an informant exposes him to a substantial risk of death or
serious bodily injury;
(13) a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal
protection based upon Defendants' intentional
discrimination against him on the basis of his racial group;
(14) a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process
rights and state created liberty interest in denying him a
meaningful review of his gang status and SHU confinement for
possible release from such confinement;
(15) a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due process
rights by misinterpreting and arbitrarily applying
regulations concerning gang activity and validations for
association upon the Plaintiff; and
(16) a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection
rights where Plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer
from Defendants utilizing a statewide systemic policy of
using race as a proxy to validate inmates as gang associates
and housing them in long-term administrative segregation in
the SHU and denying them release from this confinement based
on their “gang status.”
at 2-4 (citing Dkt. 1 at 50-61) (footnote in original).
Court's Initial Review of Plaintiff's Claims
Court reviewed the complaint and found as follows, as taken
from its July 20, 2015 Order (cognizable claims (1), (3),
(4), (6), and (8) through (16) emphasized in
1. Plaintiff's claims for injunctive relief based on his
confinement at PBSP [were] DISMISSED as moot.
2. Plaintiff's allegations regarding placement and
retention in administrative segregation in the SHU at PBSP
when liberally construed, state[d] cognizable claims under
section 1983 for a denial of due process and for supervisory
liability-claims (1), (3), (11), (14), and (15)-against the
aforementioned PBSP and CDCR Defendants (hereinafter
3. Plaintiff's allegations present[ed] a constitutionally
cognizable due process claim-claim (6)-based on a denial of
his state-created liberty interest in parole.
4. Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims related to his
alleged erroneous classification as a gang associate and
placement in the SHU at PBSP and Defendants' failure to
investigate his claim that he is not a prison gang
associate-claims (2) and (3)-[were]
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
5. Plaintiff state[d] a cognizable Eighth Amendment
claim-claim (12)-that the debriefing policy subjects him to
cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth
Amendment because it requires him to put himself, his
families and friends at risk of physical attack in order to
be released from the SHU.
6. Plaintiff's claim (5), which state[d] that Defendants
violated some provision in the settlement agreement in
Castillo v. Alameida, N.D. Cal. No. 94-2847 MJJ
(PR), [was] DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
7. Plaintiff state[d] a cognizable claim that the debriefing
requirement violate[d] his Fifth Amendment right against
8. Plaintiff's claim (7), in which he contend[ed] that
Defendants enforced vague and overbroad regulations (related
to gang validation) [was] DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
9. Plaintiff state[d] a cognizable claim of a violation of
his First Amendment right to association based on his
allegation that he was placed and retained in the SHU based
solely on his association with members of the EME Prison
10. The Court will exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's state law claims-claims (9) and (10).
cognizable equal protection claims-claims (13) and (16).
at 12-13 (brackets and emphasis added).
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Dkt. 37. Defendants argue that (1) Plaintiff failed to
exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation
Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. §
1997e(a), as to the claims concerning parole, the CDCR's
gang debriefing program, and alleged racial
discrimination; (2) Plaintiff lacks standing to assert claims
concerning his access to parole and the debriefing program;
and (3) the statute of limitations has expired as to the
remaining claims arising out of Plaintiff's 2009 gang
validation. Id. at 1-2. Accordingly, Defendants
argue they are entitled to summary judgment. Id.
Plaintiff filed an opposition, and Defendants filed a reply.
Dkts. 50, 52. For the reasons outlined below, the Court
GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
Procedural Background Regarding Gang
8, 2009, while housed at CSP-Corcoran, a correctional officer
informed Plaintiff that he was going to be validated as a
prison gang associate. Dkt. 1 at 10. Plaintiff was
informed that his validation was based on three pieces of
“confidential information.” Id. at
11. Plaintiff was placed in administrative
segregation (“ad-seg”) and given notice of the
reason for his placement in a CDCR 114-D form. Id.
However, Plaintiff refused to sign the CDCR 114-D form.
9, 2009, Plaintiff met with an institutional gang
investigator (“IGI”) to discuss his gang
validation. Id. at 12. Plaintiff submitted
a four-page rebuttal to “refute all three (3) source
items used against him.” Id.
16, 2009, Plaintiff appeared before the Institutional
Classification Committee (“ICC”) for review of
his placement in ad-seg. Id. Plaintiff was retained
at ad-seg “pending OCS [Office of Correctional Safety]
response for possible [gang] violation.” Dkt. 2-6 at 2.
The ICC further noted that “[a] release to the GP
[general population] may pose a threat to the safety of
others and endanger the institution[']s security.”
28, 2009, Plaintiff was validated as an EME associate. D'
Agostino Decl., Ex. B at 1. Defendants Kingston, McClure, and
Buechne signed the CDCR 128 B-2 “validation
chrono” (an institutional record) and dated it July 28,
2009. Id. However, Plaintiff claims that he did not
receive notice of his gang validation until August 7, 2009.
Dkt. 1 at 13. On that date, Plaintiff claims to that
he only learned about his gang validation during an interview
with Lt. Keener. Id. Plaintiff informed Lt. Keener
that he “was never brought back to [the ICC], ”
and requested for a copy of his validation chrono.
Id. Lt. Keener then provided Plaintiff with a copy
of his validation chrono. Id.
August 9, 2009, Plaintiff filed a 602 inmate appeal
requesting for the removal of his gang validation status and
to be released from ad-seg. Id. at 14; see
infra Discussion B.2.a.
December 2, 2009, an amended validation chrono was issued to
correct the date of a confidential source item used to
validate Plaintiff. D' Agostino Decl., Ex. C at 1.
Defendants Kissel, Rojers, and McClure signed the corrected
validation chrono. Id.
December 9, 2009, Plaintiff appeared at another ICC hearing,
during which he was notified that he would likely be
transferred to the PBSP SHU, to serve an indeterminate term
as a validated EME associate. D' Agostino Decl., Ex. D at
January 13, 2010, Plaintiff was transferred to PBSP. D'
Agostino Decl., Ex. I.
January 21, 2010, Plaintiff appeared at an ICC hearing
attended by Defendants Smith, Cruse, Randow, and Cappello.
Dkt. 1 at 17. Plaintiff claims that these Defendants informed
him that he was “re-validated on 12/2/09.”
Id. Plaintiff responded as follows, “Why, I
was not given an opportunity to refute the evidence. ICC at
[CSP-]Corcoran said that I was not going to be re-validated
and if I were to be, I would be notified and given an
opportunity to refute the charges.” Id.
Plaintiff added: “I am not a prison gang associate. The
evidence used against me are [sic] false and
unreliable.” Id. at 17-18. The aforementioned
Defendants “told Plaintiff that's not what
we[']re here for, you could appeal your validation but
right now we[']re still gonna house you in SHU per your
validation status of 2/02/09.” Id. at 18.
According to the ICC hearing notes, Plaintiff seemed confused
by the transfer, stating as follows: “Why did I get
transferred here? I had a hardship to stay at COR-SHU
[CSP-Corcoran SHU], I was endorsed there and th[e]y put me
here at the last minute.” D' Agostino Decl., Ex. E
at 1. The committee advised Plaintiff that, as a validated
EME associate, he had been transferred to PBSP in order to
serve an indeterminate term at the PBSP SHU. Id. The
committee further advised Plaintiff that he would be
“retain[ed] in [ad-seg] pending housing availability in
PBSP SHU.” Id. Plaintiff was also
“informed that the Department recognized avenues for
release from SHU are through the debriefing process or
through being determined to be an inactive prison gang member
or associate . . . .” Id. Because the
“last source document used in the validation process
[was] dated 04/13/09, indicating recent (within 6 years) of
gang activity, ” Plaintiff would be “eligible for
an Active/Inactive Review after 2/11/2015.”
15, 2014, the IGI conducted an investigation regarding
Plaintiff's gang status and determined that he “met
the criteria for inactive gang status and recommended his
gang status as an associate of the Mexican Mafia (EME)
Security Threat ...