United States District Court, E.D. California
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
M. KELLISON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a prisoner proceeding pro se, brings this civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court
is defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 50),
plaintiff's opposition thereto (Doc. 60), and
defendant's reply brief (Doc. 62).
action proceeds on plaintiff's second amended complaint
(Doc. 22) against defendant Sisson, in his official capacity,
on the claim that defendant Sisson violated plaintiff's
Due Process rights during a prison disciplinary proceeding.
Plaintiff alleges defendant Sisson arbitrarily refused to
allow plaintiff to question his witness. All other defendants
and claims have been dismissed. Defendant moves for summary
judgment arguing: 1) plaintiff's official capacity claim
fails as a matter of law; 2) plaintiff fails to state a claim
for injunctive relief; 3) and plaintiff's due process
rights were not violated.
has submitted a statement of undisputed facts in support of
the motion for summary judgment. The statement of undisputed
facts is supported by defendant Sisson's declaration and
defendant's responses to plaintiff's interrogatories.
Defendant also provided a copy of the Rules Violation Report,
plaintiff's Institutional Classification Committee
decision, plaintiff's inmate grievance with decisions,
and a declaration of records by the prison litigation
coordinator authenticating the records provided.
relevant evidence defendant has submitted is summarized as
• At the time relevant to this action, defendant Sisson
was a correctional lieutenant employed by California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) at High
Desert State Prison (HDSP);
• While housed at Pleasant Valley State Prison,
plaintiff was issued a prison rules violation report (RVR)
for battery on an inmate. According to the RVR, on August 15,
2011, while administering the morning medication, Licensed
Vocational Nurse Hernandez was approached by Inmate Sams for
his medication. Inmate Sams was holding a towel to the right
side of his face. Nurse Hernandez asked Sams what happened
and Sams stated that Hardy [plaintiff] hit him in the middle
of the night. Sams removed the towel from his face to reveal
swelling to the right jaw and a cut next to his right eye.
Nurse Hernandez notified Correctional Officer Hernandez of
Sams' injures, who in turn notified Correctional Sergeant
Mendez of the incident.
• On September 16, 2011, plaintiff was found guilty of
battery on an inmate by Senior Hearing Officer Perry.
• As a result of the RVR findings, plaintiff was placed
in a Security Housing Unit (SHU) from August 15, 2011 until
October 20, 2011.
• Plaintiff successfully appealed the disciplinary
findings through the administrative grievance process. As a
result, the RVR was vacated, the lost credits were restored,
and the disciplinary was ordered reissued and reheard.
• The RVR was reissued, and on February 2, 2012, it was
reheard by Senior Hearing Officer Dotson. Dotson found
plaintiff guilty of the charge.
• Plaintiff again successfully appealed the disciplinary
findings through the administrative grievance process. The
third level decision ordered the rules violation reissued and
reheard finding the senior hearing officer could not deny
plaintiff's request to have the reporting employee
• On April 1, 2012, plaintiff was transferred to HDSP.
• On October 16, 2012, plaintiff appeared before
defendant Sisson for a second rehearing of the RVR.
• Plaintiff plead not guilty to the prison disciplinary
charge, and submitted a written statement in his defense.
Plaintiff claimed he was not guilty because there was a lack
of visual evidence; a lack of investigation; a lack of
witness credibility; no marks, cuts or scratches on
plaintiff's hands consistent with a battery; he made no
admission of committing the battery; and the reporting
employee was not sure if plaintiff committed the battery.
• Plaintiff requested three witnesses at the hearing:
the reporting employee, Nurse C. Hernandez, Correctional
Sergeant J. Mendez, and Correctional Officer J. Hernandez.
Because plaintiff had been transferred to HDSP, the witnesses
would be questioned by telephone.
• Plaintiff had an investigative employee (IE) assigned
to assist him.
Plaintiff asked questions of these three staff members
through the IE, who documented their responses in the IE
• According to the IE report, plaintiff asked Officer
Hernandez and Sergeant Mendez the same two questions: 1) if
they witnessed plaintiff commit a battery on Sams, and 2) if
plaintiff admitted to them that he committed a battery on
Sams. Both witnesses answered “no” to the
questions. Plaintiff also asked six questions of the
reporting employee, Nurse Hernandez. Plaintiff asked her 1)
if she visually witnessed plaintiff commit a battery on
inmate Sams, to which she replied, “no;” 2) if
she observed plaintiff at all while she was administering the
morning medication, to which she replied, “Yes he was
looking out of the cell;” 3) whether plaintiff admitted
to her that he battered Sams, to which she replied, “I
didn't ask him;” 4) whether she noticed any blood
on him when she competed a 7219 report, to which she replied,
“I don't recall;” 5) whether there were any
marks, cuts, or scrapes on plaintiff's hands and knuckles