United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
Gatewood is an inmate in the custody of the Maryland Division
of Correction (''DOC''), presently
incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution
25, 2016, Gatewood filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Hearing Officer Peter Juknelis; former Warden John
Wolfe; and Stephen T. Moyer, Secretary of the Maryland
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
(''DPSCS''). ECF 1. The suit is rooted in
events that occurred at Jessup Correctional Institution
(''JCI'') on July 27, 2012, where Gatewood
was found in possession of eight sharpened metal objects. He
was subsequently found guilty of prison rule violations by
Hearing Officer Juknelis.
alleges that plaintiffs disciplinary hearing violated his
right to due process. ECF 1. As relief, Gatewood asks for
reinstatement of 90 days of good conduct credit, back pay
from his prison job, and punitive and compensatory damages.
ECF 1 at 3.
defendants have filed a motion to dismiss or, in the
alternative, for summary judgment. ECF 14 (''Motion).
The Motion is supported by several exhibits. Gatewood has
filed an opposition (ECF 21, ''Opposition''),
with exhibits. No reply was filed.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow,
I shall construe defendants‘ Motion as a motion for
summary judgment and grant it.
27, 2012, correctional officers searched Gatewood‘s
cell at JCI and discovered eight sharpened metal objects and
one stone sharpener. ECF 1 at 3; ECF 14-2 at 5 (Disciplinary
Hearing Record); ECF 21-1 at 32
(Administrative Law Judge‘s Decision). Gatewood was
placed in administrative segregation and received a Notice of
Inmate Rule Violation that same day. ECF 21 at 2.
disciplinary hearing was held on August 23, 2012, at which
Juknelis presided. ECF 14-2 at 4-7. Gatewood acknowledged the
sharpened objects were his, but claimed he used them as tools
to repair appliances. Gatewood did not claim he was innocent
of the infractions. ECF 14-2 at 4-5; ECF 21-1 at 37-38.
at the hearing, Gatewood moved to dismiss the infractions
against him, contending that the disciplinary hearing was
untimely and contravened Code of Maryland Regulations
(''COMAR'') 12.02.27.12B. ECF 1 at 3. It
A defendant inmate shall appear before the hearing officer
for a preliminary review of the rule violations charged
within 7 business days after the following events have
concluded in the specified order:
(1) The investigation of the reported event and misconduct is
(2) The Notice of Inmate Rule Violation and Disciplinary
Hearing form is completed; and
(3) The Notice of Inmate Rule Violation and Disciplinary
Hearing form is reviewed by a shift supervisor.
is no dispute that the hearing was conducted twenty-seven
days after Gatewood was served with the Notice of Rule
violation, or twenty days after the end of the prescribed
period to hold the hearing. ECF 21-1 at 34; see also
ECF 21-1 at 34 (indicating that the shift supervisor reviewed
the notice of hearing on the same day it was served on
took notice of COMAR 12.02.27.01 during the hearing. ECF 14-2
at 3. COMAR 12.02.27.01 provides:
A. The Commissioner of Correction shall establish inmate
disciplinary procedures intended for the:
(1) Efficient administration of inmate discipline; and
(2) Orderly operation of a correctional facility.
B. These regulations do not convey or create enforceable
rights, interests, or benefits for a Division of Correction
C. Except for failure to comply with due process, an
inmate's conviction for a rule violation is not affected
by the failure of the Division of Correction to meet
procedural or time requirements under this chapter.
hearing, the facility representative explained that the delay
in holding the hearing was due to ''a large back log
of cases that are being heard in the order which they are
received.'' ECF 14-2 at 4; see also ECF 1 at
3; ECF 21 at 1-2. Juknelis found the explanation reasonable
and noted that Gatewood could not articulate how the delay
harmed his defense. The hearing proceeded. ECF 14-2 at 3.
found Gatewood guilty of violating inmate Rule 105
(possession of a weapon) and Rule 406 (possession of
contraband). ECF 1 at 3; ECF 14-2 at 5; ECF 21-1 at
He sanctioned Gatewood with 90 days of punitive segregation,
revoked 90 days of good conduct credit for the violation of
Rule 105, and imposed 30 days of punitive segregation for the
violation of Rule 406, to be served concurrent with the
sanction for the violation of Rule 105. ECF 14-2 at 6; ECF
21-1 at 32. Juknelis also sanctioned Gatewood with a
mandatory loss of visitation for six months. Id.
appealed the hearing officer‘s decision to the Warden,
but received no response. ECF 1 at 4; ECF 21-1 at 14-16.
Therefore, on October 15, 2012, Gatewood appealed to the
Inmate Grievance Office (''IGO''). ECF 21-1
at 3-6, 29. He claimed a denial of due process and a
lack of evidence to support the rule violations. In addition,