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Ryidu-X v. Stouffer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 26, 2014

MALCOM M. RYIDU-X, #273-575 Plaintiff
v.
DEPUTY SECRETARY J. MICHAEL STOUFFER[1] WARDEN JOHN WOLFE OFFICER JOHN DOE ONE OFFICER JOHN DOE TWO NURSE/MEDICAL TECHNICIAN JOHN DOE THREE CO II ALEXANDER FLEET SGT. ROBERT JORDAN HEARING OFFICER JOHN SANDSTROM. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

This case began with an earlier civil rights action filed by Maryland Division of Correction ("DOC") prisoner Malcom Ryidu-X. On May 9, 2013, this Court granted summary judgment to correctional Defendants in Ryidu-x v. Stouffer, et al., Civil Action No. WDQ-12-423 (D. Md.), a civil rights action addressing whether Ryidu-X could be permanently denied visitation based on disciplinary findings that he might be an escape risk. ( Id., ECF 34 and 35.) In granting summary judgment, the Court noted that Ryidu-X had failed to timely oppose the Defendants' dispositive motion. ( Id., ECF 34, p. 2).[2]

On May 13, 2013, the Clerk received a paper from Ryidu-x, dated May 5, 2013, alleging that the Defendants in the previous case were willing to allow him visitation as a "smoke-screen to justify [their] punishment of the plaintiff for his refusal to participate in and/or become a part of the prostitution activities in which he was solicited to engage upon his arrival at the Jessup Correctional Institution on 3/10/10."

To be received as a timely opposition in Civil Action No. WDQ-12-423, the paper should have been dated on or before April 25, 2013. The untimely paper was not docketed in the closed case. Instead, the instant case was opened on May 13, 2013, the paper docketed therein, and Ryidu-X was given an opportunity to supplement it by providing the name(s) of the individuals responsible - including the date(s) such offenses occurred - and an indigency affidavit or civil filing fee.[3] See Ryidu-X v. Stouffer, Civil Action No. WDQ-13-1398 (D. Md.), ECF 1 and 2.

Ryidu-X signed his supplemental paper on May 23, 2013; it was received and docketed by the Clerk as an Amended Complaint on May 30, 2013.[4] ( Id., ECF 4). Now pending are the motion to dismiss or for summary judgment filed by Defendants Stouffer, Wolfe, Fleet, Jordan and Sandstrom (ECF No. 17)[5] and Ryidu-X's opposition. (ECF 20). A hearing is not needed to resolve the motion. See Local Rule 105.6. (D. Md. 2014).

Background

Ryidu-X alleges that in March and April, 2010, at the Jessup Correctional Institution (JCI), he was "solicited by SGT Jordan" and an unidentified officer to participate in "homosexual activities" at JCI in exchange for contraband or other favors. He further alleges that on or about April 17, 2010, he was "threatened by SGT Jordan" and an unidentified officer with "formal disciplinary actions" for refusing to participate in a "homosexual prostitution ring" at that institution. He alleges that two days later another unidentified officer made the same threat about formal disciplinary charges if he made any complaint against JCI staff "in relation to the above stated homosexual prostitution ring." Then, on April 27, 2010, Ryidu-X claims he was "threatened" by CO II Fleet with "formal disciplinary actions" if he did not "keep [his] mouth shut" or "mind [his] business" about the homosexual activity.

Ryidu-X next alleges that in December 2010, an unidentified "nurse/medical technician" tried to "engage [him] in a homosexual manner" by offering some type of drug in exchange for Ryidu-X exposing his genitals and masturbating. Correctional staff are not alleged to have been involved in this incident. Ryidu-X alleges that on December 28, 2010, an unidentified officer told him he was going to receive a notice of infraction because he had submitted an Administrative Remedy Procedure request ("ARP") about the medical technician's alleged advances. Ryidu-X further claims that on January 3, 2011, Fleet and Sandstrom participated in a hearing at which he was found guilty of several rule violations "to punish [him] for [his] continued rejection of homosexual demands of prison staff" at JCI.[6]

Defendants present a different version of events. Defendant Jordan, who supervises roughly a dozen correctional officers, asserts that Ryidu-X's allegations of a "prostitution ring" are a complete fabrication, and he never had such a conversation with any prisoner. (ECF 17-6, ¶ 3).

Defendants contend that Ryidu-X provides no factual support for his conclusionary claim that Fleet and Sandstrom retaliated against him with regard to the January 3, 2011 hearing. They also note that the disciplinary infraction that was the subject of that hearing had been written by officers at WCI. They further argue that Ryidu-X provides no factual support for his charge that a "homosexual prostitution ring" existed at JCI, and does not allege that he was ever forced to engage in homosexual activity against his will or sustained any other harm apart from being found guilty of the WCI infraction.

As noted, the infraction which was the subject of the January 3, 2011 hearing had been written by WCI correctional officers who strip searched Ryidu-X during his March 11, 2011 transfer to JCI. The officers found contraband in Ryidu-X's shoes. (ECF 17-2, Records Declaration of Rolisa Carter, p. 8). Fleet, who represented JCI at the January 3, 2011 hearing, was assigned to administrative duties that included scheduling hearings, ensuring the attendance of witnesses, and presenting documentary evidence. (ECF 17-3, Declaration of CO II Fleet, ¶ 1). Fleet attended the hearing solely as the prison representative. ( Id., ¶ 4). Fleet avers that Ryidu-X's allegation that he threatened to charge him with disciplinary infractions if he did not "keep [his] mouth shut" about a "homosexual prostitution ring" is a complete fabrication and that Fleet has no knowledge of a "homosexual prostitution ring" at JCI. ( Id., ¶ 3).

Sandstrom, employed by the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services as a Disciplinary Hearing Officer, conducted the January 3, 2011 hearing, which took place at JCI. The notice of infraction stated that during a strip search at WCI Plaintiff was found to possess binder clips hidden in his shoes and, when asked what he was going to do with the clips, he replied, "I'm getting out of here one way or the other." (ECF 17-4, Declaration of John Sandstrom, ¶ 1. Id., ¶ 4). Ryidu-X claimed that he did not possess the clips, which must have been found in another's inmate's shoes and mistakenly attributed to him by staff. He also argued that the clips could not reasonably be considered escape paraphernalia, and made a motion to dismiss the infraction based on the length of time it took for him to receive a hearing. Ryidu-X called no witnesses, having waived the presence of the reporting officer that he had previously requested when the notice was served on him. ( Id.). Sandstrom denied Ryidu-X's motion to dismiss the infraction based on regulations and because Ryidu-X could not cite any prejudice to his ability to present a defense. ( Id., ¶ 5). After reviewing the evidence, Sandstrom found Ryidu-X guilty of violating two prison rules, but dismissed a third charge because there was no evidence presented to show that the binder clips were stolen. ( Id. and attached Inmate Hearing Record, p. 3). Sandstrom sentenced Ryidu-X to 90 days segregation and an indefinite loss of visits, which is mandatory for a third occurrence of certain rule violations. ( Id., ¶ 6). At no time before, during or after the hearing, did Ryidu-X inform Sandstrom that he believed the disciplinary infraction was given to him because he refused to engage in homosexual activities with prison staff. ( Id., ¶ 7).

Defendant Wolfe, JCI's Warden, avers that while at JCI, Ryidu-X filed requests for administrative remedy (ARPs) on a variety of matters, and also wrote a number of letters to him. (ECF 17-5, Declaration of Warden Wolfe, ¶ 2). During the entire time he was incarcerated at JCI, Ryidu-X never communicated any complaint directly to Wolfe involving an alleged "prostitution ring" operating in the institution. ( Id., ¶ 3). Wolfe indicates that had such an accusation been made directly to him, Wolfe would have reported it to the DPSCS Internal Investigative Unit ("IIU") for investigation and, if found credible, for action against anyone involved. ( Id.). Wolfe also avers that Ryidu-X did not complain to him that he was being threatened with disciplinary actions in retaliation for not participating in such activity. ( Id.).

JCI records show that Ryidu-X submitted ARP #1350-10, alleging that on December 2 and December 3, 2010 he was solicited to engage in homosexual activity and offered unspecified drugs by an unidentified medical employee of the private contractor that provides health care services to JCI inmates. ( Id., ¶ 4; ECF 17-2, pp. 2-3). The ARP was received by Major Ford and sent to Sgt. Sellman, JCI's ARP Coordinator, who dismissed it for procedural reasons and advised Ryidu-X to resubmit it by December 25, 2010, and in the resubmitted ARP provide the ...


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