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Gladhill v. Watson

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

August 28, 2013

AUSTIN GLADHILL, III, # 322-221,
v.
RANDY WATSON, Commissioner of Corrections.

MEMORANDUM

CATHERINE C. BLAKE, District Judge.

Austin Gladhill ("Gladhill"), a self-represented litigant, brings this hybrid civil rights and habeas corpus action for injunctive relief and damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2241, alleging his diminution credits[1] were "illegally confiscated." (ECF No. 1, Attachment at 1.) By his counsel, defendant Randy Watson ("Watson"), Director of Programs and Services, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, [2] filed, with exhibits, a motion to dismiss or in the alternative, a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 9.) Gladhill filed a reply. (ECF No. 12.) The case is ripe for disposition, and the court deems a hearing unnecessary to resolve the issues. See Local R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For reasons to follow, the court will grant summary judgment in favor of Watson.

BACKGROUND

A. Gladhill's Claims

Gladhill, who is presently an inmate at the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, [3] claims 355 days of diminution credits awarded to him for double-celling or overcrowding were revoked in violation of his civil rights, right to due process, and rights under the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 1, Attachment at 1.) Gladhill describes the "civil Rights violations" as the revocation of double-celling credits he claims he was awarded for "overcrowding Eighth Amendment Violations, " or more specifically, "the violation of [his] right to 55 square feet of space per person." ( Id., Attachment at 4.) Additionally, Gladhill argues his "rights to Due Process have been violated because the [Division of Corrections or "DOC"] has breached a verbal contract by failing to restore [his] credits...." ( Id., Attachment at 5.) As relief, he asks for damages as well as restoration of his credits. ( Id. at 8.)

B. Facts

On March 7, 2011, Gladhill was removed from the Gaudenzia Drug Program after he was charged with violating Inmate Rule 104. (ECF No. 10 at 2; id., Ex. 1.) According to the defendant, Inmate Rule 104 involves the use of intimidating, coercive, or threatening language. ( Id. at 2.) Gladhill was charged with the rule violation after he informed his counselor, Ms. Poff ("Poff"), that a certain correctional officer ("CO") made him angry. ( See id., Ex. 1.) Gladhill told her: "when I get out [of DOC], I'm going to find out where [that CO] lives and kill him." ( Id. ) According to Poff's written statement, "[s]everal minutes later, during the same conversation, Inmate Gladhill stated that he is angry and resentful' and that [he is] going to kill anyone that stands in [his] way." ( Id. )

On March 15, 2011, a DOC hearing officer conducted a hearing on the matter and found Gladhill guilty of violating Rule 104. ( Id., Ex. 2.) The acting warden affirmed the hearing officer's decision, noting "[t]hreats against staff or others [are] unacceptable and all precautions shall be taken to prevent such occurrences." ( Id., Ex. 3.)

As a result of his disciplinary rule conviction for use of threatening language against staff, Gladhill was charged on April 4, 2011, with violating Rule 204. ( Id. at 3; id., Ex. 4.) According to the defendant, Rule 204 prohibits an inmate from "[r]efus[ing] to participate in or engag[ing] in behavior that results in removal from a mandatory remediation program[.]" ( Id. at 3.) See also COMAR 12.02.27.03.A(3) (providing DOC inmates must "comply with the rules of:... [a] program to which the inmate is assigned")

On April 14, 2011, Gladhill appeared before Hearing Officer David Sipes ("Sipes") for his disciplinary hearing on the Rule 204 charge and pleaded guilty to the violation "in an agreement with the institution for 30 days of segregation [and] revocation of 1, 158 [of his good conduct and special project credits]." (ECF No. 10, Ex. 5.) Because Gladhill's disciplinary history was deemed "poor, " he received 30 days of segregation, loss of the diminution credits, and "180 days [loss of visits] as mandated by COMAR."[4] ( Id. )

Gladhill asserts Sipes "advised" him "its [sic] standard procedure to revoke your credits, but then once you go back to housing unit eight and finish the program you will get them back." (ECF No. 12 at 1-2; ECF No. 1, Attachment at 2.) Gladhill claims Sipes "explained" the credits would be restored. (ECF No. 1, Attachment at 2.) In his reply, Gladhill characterizes this explanation as a "promise" and states "[t]hat was the "sole basis for entering into a plea agreement with the state in regards to the rule 204 violation." (ECF No. 12 at 2.) Gladhill claims that after he entered his plea, Sipes "added" loss of visiting privileges. ( Id. )

On August 16, 2012, Gladhill filed a grievance based on the revocation of his credits with the Inmate Grievance Office ("IGO"). (ECF No. 10, Ex. 7.)[5] On October 10, 2012, IGO Deputy Director Robin Woolford sent correspondence to Gladhill, instructing him to "provide a copy of all missing Case Management paperwork within 30 days of the date of this letter" and cautioning him that failure to submit this paperwork would result in the dismissal of the grievance "without further notice." ( Id. ) Watson asserts the IGO received no further documentation from Gladhill, and his grievance was deemed dismissed 30 days later. (ECF No. 10 at 4-5.) Watson, however, has filed no declaration or other documentation to support the assertion that Gladhill failed to provide the requested paperwork, and Gladhill states his claim was "denied all the way through the I.G.O. process." (ECF No. 12 at 2.) Gladhill acknowledges, however, that he did not seek judicial review of the IGO decision. (ECF No. 1 at 6-7.)

Gladhill eventually reentered and completed the Gaudenzia Drug Program at Patuxent Institution. ( Id., Attachment at 2; ECF No. 10 at 4.) Thereafter, he requested restoration of the 1, 158 credits. Full restoration of credit was recommended by Mr. Lagendre, Gladhill's case manager, Ms. Davis, the case management supervisor, Ms. Johnson, the facility administrator, and Ms. Chippendale, the regional warden. (ECF No. 12 at 5; ECF No. 1, Attachment at 3-4; ECF No. 10, Ex. 6.)

On September 24, 2012, Watson partially granted Gladhill's restoration request, returning half the number (579) of the 1, 158 revoked credits because "the nature of the infraction and threat against staff does not warrant full restoration." (ECF No. 10, Ex. 6.) Gladhill asserts among the unrestored credits were 355 for double celling. (ECF No. 12, Ex. A.) He does not claim, and it does not appear, he ...


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