The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Frederick Motz United States District Judge
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
MEMORANDUM Pending are motions to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment filed on behalf of defendants. ECF No. 11, Civil Action No. JFM-12-2696 and ECF No. 10, Civil Action No. JFM-12-2700.*fn1 Plaintiff has responded. ECF Nos. 16 & 17, Civil Action No. JFM-12-2696 and ECF Nos. 14 & 15 Civil Action No. JFM-12-2700. Upon review of papers and exhibits filed, the court finds consolidation for dispositive review is appropriate. An oral hearing in this matter is unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons that follow, the motions to dismiss, construed as a motions for summary judgment, will be GRANTED.
Emerson-Bey a self-represented inmate, housed at the North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"), initiated these proceedings alleging that on June 21, 2012, he was "unjustly and unfairly found guilty of" inmate rule violations. He states that on the same date he wrote an appeal to Warden Bobby Shearin. He received a response from defendant Keith Arnold, rather than Shearin, denying the appeal and imposing an additional sanction/penalty, i.e. that upon completion of plaintiff's segregation time, he would not be provided his appliances for thirty days. Plaintiff alleges that this additional sanction is unconstitutional. Plaintiff further alleges that Arnold wrote to plaintiff's sister, Joan Person, making false statements about him. Lastly, plaintiff alleges that Arnold destroyed two ARPs filed by plaintiff regarding his placement on segregation. ECF No. 1, Civil Action No. JFM-12-2696.
Plaintiff further alleges that on June 25, 2012, he sent two ARPs to Warden Bobby Shearin alleging that a housing unit 4 officer conspired to write a fraudulent rule violation against him on June 1, 2012. He claims that Shearin never investigated his ARPs nor acknowledged their receipt. ECF No. 1, Civil Action No. JFM-12-2700. Plaintiff states that he was unjustly found guilty of rule violations during his June 21, 2012 adjustment hearing and that Shearin delayed reviewing his appeal and ultimately entrusted Arnold to review it, without justification. Id.
The record evidence before the court indicates that on June 1, 2012, Correctional Officer II Snyder wrote plaintiff a Notice of Inmate Rule Violation, charging plaintiff with violating Rules 104 and 405 (use of intimidating or threatening language and demonstrating disrespect or use of vulgar language). Civil Action No. JFM-12-2695, ECF No. 11, Ex. 1. Snyder averred that on June 1, 2012, while conducting a tier walk, he observed plaintiff violently kicking his door. Snyder approached plaintiff and inquired what was wrong. Plaintiff replied that he needed to take his "fucking medication to the Nurse and the dumbass up there locked me in my cell." Snyder asked CO II Drybola to open plaintiff's cell. Plaintiff exited his cell with his "lips quivering and with clenched fists." He advised Snyder that he needed his inhaler. Snyder told plaintiff that he needed to let someone know, as Snyder was just returning to the tier and did not know what was wrong. Plaintiff told Snyder to "fuck off" and approached the control center where he stated to Drybola "I've been locked up for 30 years, you'd die for that type of shit where I come from." Snyder escorted plaintiff to the medical unit and attempted to counsel him regarding his hostile and disrespectful actions. Plaintiff replied, "I've been locked up for 30 years CO, I don't give a fuck about going to Housing Unit 1. You want to ignore me and do a tier walk, I'll fuck your white ass up." Due to plaintiff's hostility he was locked in his cell and Snyder asked for Drybola's assistance to transfer him to a holding cell. As they placed plaintiff in handcuffs to escort him off the tier, plaintiff stated "I don't give a fuck about going to [housing unit] one, when I get back I will see your pussy white asses on the compound." Id.
CO II Drybola also wrote an information report about the incident, indicating that he observed plaintiff come out of his cell and confront Snyder, then walk toward the control center, which Drybola occupied, and ask to speak to him. Drybola indicated plaintiff was in a confrontational state and said in a disrespectful and threatening tone, "I've been locked up for 30 years, you'd die for that type of shit where I come from." Plaintiff then went to the medical room. When he returned he remained disrespectful and confrontational. Drybola also indicated that when he and Snyder escorted plaintiff to the holding cell, plaintiff stated "I don't give a fuck about going to one, when I get back I will see your pussy white asses on the compound." Id., Ex. 2. Plaintiff was served with a copy of the notice of Inmate Disciplinary Hearing and Rule Violation on the same day. Plaintiff signed the notice acknowledging receipt and requested the "video camera [be] checked." He did not request any other witnesses or an inmate representative. Id., Ex. 1.
On June 21, 2012, a hearing was held on the rule violation before Hearing Officer Sandstrom who found plaintiff guilty of the rule violations. Id., Ex. 3. Plaintiff did not request any
witnesses but did request Sandstrom view the video of the incident. Plaintiff testified, denying his involvement in the incident, and alleged he had been mixed up with someone else. The evidence presented at the hearing included the notice of rule violation, CO Drybola's statement, plaintiff's testimony, and review of the video of the incident. Sandstrom made written findings of facts. He found plaintiff guilty of the rule violations for making statements such as: "you die for that type of shit" and "I will see your pussy asses on the compound." Sandstrom found that the video of the incident did not contradict the reports form staff. While no audio was available with the video, Sandstrom noted that the video showed plaintiff storming out his cell, waiving his hands and appearing upset. He further noted that plaintiff could be seen on the video going to the control center, waiving his hands over his head and walking quickly out of sight. Id. Sandstrom did not find plaintiff's testimony persuasive. He found the video validated staff's report and found that the staff reports were credible and reliable. Plaintiff was found guilty of violating Rule 103 for which he was sanctioned to 120 days segregation and 60 days good conduct credits were revoked. He was also found guilty of violating Rule 405 and sanctioned to a concurrent 15 days of segregation. Plaintiff was provided a written copy of the hearing officer's decision on June 21, 2012. Id.
The Warden, or his designee, is required to review findings of guilt made in disciplinary hearings. Id., Ex. 4; See COMAR 12.02.27.31. In reviewing the hearing officer's findings the Warden is authorized to impose additional informal or alternative sanctions regardless of the sanctions imposed by the hearing officer. Id., Ex. 4 & 5; COMAR 12.02.27.31 B.2(b).
Plaintiff appealed the hearing officer's decision on June 21, 2012.
Id., Ex. 7. Arnold, as the Warden's designee, denied the appeal, and
affirmed the hearing officer's decision and sanctions.
Ex. 8 & 9. Arnold also approved the recommendation of the Reduction in
Violence ("RIV") Committee's*fn2 recommendation to
impose an additional thirty days loss of appliances. Id., Ex. 10.
On July 9, 2012, Warden Shearin's office received three ARPs from plaintiff. As the requests did not comport with proper ARP process for filing they were returned to the housing unit manager. Id., Exs. 11-14. On July 27, 2012, plaintiff filed ARP NBCI-2029-12 complaining about the thirty day loss of appliances and 120 days of segregation imposed. Id., Ex. 15. On August 21, 2012, the ARP was dismissed, after it was determined to be a case management decision which is not grievable through the ARP process. Id., Ex. 15.
Plaintiff filed four grievances during 2012 with the Inmate Grievance Office. Id., Ex. 16. Case Number IGO 20121717 was in regard to the June 21, 2012 disciplinary hearing. Id. Ex. 16. The grievance did not complain about the conduct of Arnold or the imposition of loss of appliances. Id., Ex. 17. On December 19, 2012, a hearing was held before the Administrative Law Judge. Id., Ex 18. As of the filing of defendants' dispositive motions, no decision had been rendered.
On July 13, 2012, Arnold wrote a letter to plaintiff's sister in response to her inquiry about plaintiff. Id., Ex. 5. Arnold advised her that plaintiff had received an notice of infraction on June 1, 2012 for unacceptable actions which compromised the safety of staff and inmates and the security of the normal ...