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Arteaga v. Hubbard

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 19, 2017

SUSAN HUBBARD, et al., Defendants.


          NATHANAEL M. COUSINS, United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Anthony Arteaga, a California state prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his right to due process, and violated the unconstitutional conditions doctrine. The Court exercised supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claim. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff has filed an opposition, and Defendants have filed a reply. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


         The following facts are taken in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, and are undisputed unless otherwise indicated.

         In October 2012, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) implemented a “Security Threat Group Prevention, Identification, and Management” (“STG”) pilot program. Butler Decl. ¶ 5. The STG pilot program changed the CDCR's gang management policy from a “status-based” model to a “behavior-based” model that focused less on the labelling of an inmate as a gang member or associate, and more on that inmate's behavior. Giubino Decl. ¶ 5. That is, once an inmate was identified and validated as a gang member or associate, this identification no longer automatically resulted in a Secured Housing Unit (“SHU”) placement. Id.

         Another significant change implemented by the STG pilot program was the process through which inmates who had been validated as gang members or associates could earn their way from segregated housing back to the general population. Adams Decl. ¶ 3. This “step down program” (“SDP”) was an alternative procedure for inmates to disassociate from gang activity and earn incremental privileges without debriefing.[1] Id. Prior to the STG pilot program, a validated prison member or associate was housed to an indeterminate term in the SHU for a minimum of six years. Giurbino Decl. ¶ 7. The SDP was an incentive-based, multi-step process, designed to be completed in five steps within three to four years. Ducart Decl. ¶ 4. It was intended to provide specific steps for inmates to demonstrate their ability to refrain from prison gang behavior, and prepare them for return to general population and eventual release to the community. Id.

         Steps 1 and 2 placed STG inmates in the SHU mainly for observation in order to segregate and monitor their behavior. Giurbino Decl. ¶ 8. STG inmates in Steps 1 and 2 were inmates who were deemed to present the greatest threat to others and to institutional security. Id. These two steps were designed to be completed within a total of 24 months, but inmates could accelerate to the next step earlier if they met the program requirements. Id. Most of the program requirements could be completed within the inmate's cells. Id. Some components of Steps 1 and 2 were reading comprehension testing, and skill-based programming like self-directed journals.[2] Id.

         Steps 3 and 4 were reintegration steps once inmates completed Steps 1 and 2. Id. ¶ 9. These steps began reintegration with other inmates within the SDP by offering program and privilege incentives while still being housed in segregation. Id. Step 3 continued education and skill-based programming components such as anger management, parenting, and violence prevention programs. Id. Step 4 included further education and skill-based programming, twelve-step self-help programs, and STG-diversion programs. Id. After an inmate successfully completed all four steps, Step 5 included eligibility for transfer into general population and a twelve-month observation period. Id. ¶ 10.

         Plaintiff was originally validated as an associate of the Mexican Mafia (“EME”) prison gang in 2002. Hubbard Decl., Ex. A. Plaintiff was again validated as an active associate of the EME on January 12, 2012. Id. On August 26, 2013, Plaintiff received notice of his upcoming hearing before the Departmental Review Board (“DRB”) for determination of whether Plaintiff should be considered for, and placed into, the STG pilot program. Id. ¶ 7. The notice included a copy of the STG handbook and evidence regarding Plaintiff's gang-related behavior for the previous four years. Id. At this time, Plaintiff was housed in California State Prison - Corcoran in the SHU. Adams Decl. ¶ 5.

         On September 24, 2013, while house at California State Prison - Corcoran, Plaintiff appeared before the DRB. Hubbard Decl. ¶¶ 5, 8 and Ex. A. At the hearing, the DRB decided to place Plaintiff into Step 1 of the SDP. Id., Ex. A. Plaintiff disagreed with the placement. Id. Plaintiff informed the DRB that he would refuse to participate in the SDP, and that he could not be forced to participate. Thereafter, Plaintiff was transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison (“PBSP”) SHU. Hubbard Decl. ¶ 8.

         On January 29, 2014, Plaintiff was given an SDP Orientation to “Brave Series Step 1” self-directed journaling program, and was issued the first journal, along with a “Readiness to Change” form. Nealy Decl., Ex. A. The “Brave Series” is a “self-directed journaling program for inmates housed in a SHU, and in Steps 1 and 2 of the SDP.” Id. “The journaling program is a weekly interactive journaling program, designed to help inmates develop a system of new values and strategies that lead to responsible thinking and behavior. Inmates who wish to participate are provided with a new journal, along with a “Readiness to Change” Form (self assessment forms) to be completed by the inmate weekly.” Id. Plaintiff was told that he was not required to complete the journaling assignments, but that the failure to do so may result in Plaintiff's retention in Step 1 or 2. Id.

         While in PBSP SHU, Plaintiff successfully completed Steps 1 and 2 of the SDP, including the requirement of completing interactive self-journaling. Ducart Decl. ¶¶ 6-7 and Exs. A, B. Specifically, on March 17, 2014, Plaintiff successfully transitioned to Step 2. Nealy Decl., Ex. C. Then on November 12, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before the Initial Classification Committee, who noted that Plaintiff had successfully completed Step 2, and recommended transferring Plaintiff to California Correctional Institute - Tehachapi or California State Prison - Corcoran. Ducart Decl. ¶ 7, Ex. B.

         In January 2016, Plaintiff appeared before the DRB for a determination of whether Plaintiff could be transferred from the SHU to general population. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff was ultimately transferred to PBSP's Restricted Custody General Population Unit based on concerns for Plaintiff's safety. Id. and Ex. C.

         Plaintiff has filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging that Defendants violated his right to due process when they required him to undergo “cognitive behavioral therapy, ” which includes participating in the interactive journaling component of the SDP. He also claims that Defendants violated the unconstitutional conditions doctrine, and raises a state law claim.


         A. Standard of Review

          Summary judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery, and affidavits show there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See id.

         A court shall grant summary judgment “against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial[, ] . . . since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying those portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to “go beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the ‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ' designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” See Id. at 324 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).

         For purposes of summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party; if the evidence produced by the moving party conflicts with evidence produced by the nonmoving party, the court must assume the truth of the evidence submitted by the nonmoving party. See Leslie v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1158 (9th Cir. 1999). The court's function on a summary judgment motion is not to make credibility determinations or weigh conflicting evidence with respect to a disputed material fact. See T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         C. Analysis

         Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing that: (1) Plaintiff was not denied due process; (2) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity; (3) Plaintiff's request for injunctive relief should be denied as moot; (4) Defendants did not violate the unconstitutional conditions doctrine; (5) Plaintiff's state law claim should be dismissed for failing to comply with the California Tort Claims Act; and (6) the Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claim. The Court addresses each argument below.

         1. Due process

         a. Procedur ...

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