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Shamsuid'Diyn v. Moyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 18, 2018

KHALID SHAMSUD'DIYN, #330-816, Plaintiff
v.
STEPHEN T. MOYER, Secretary DPSCS and SCOTT S. OAKLEY, Executive Director, Inmate Grievance Office, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

         The self-represented plaintiff, Shamsud'Diyn, is an inmate in the Maryland Division of Correction (“DOC”).[1] He has filed suit (ECF 1), alleging that while housed at the Maryland Correctional Training Center (“MCTC”) in Hagerstown, Maryland, he was denied a timely rule violations hearing, in violation of Maryland administrative and regulatory authority, and that his placement on segregation pending the hearing amounts to a denial of his constitutional right of access to the courts. Id. at 1, 1-3.[2] In plaintiff's supplement to the Complaint, he adds that he was denied access to the courts because his legal dictionary and other personal property items were confiscated, in retaliation for his exercise of his constitutional right of access to the courts. ECF 4 at 2.

         Shamsud'Diyn seeks injunctive relief mandating dismissal of the rule violation proceedings (ECF 1 at 8); the return of his legal papers (ECF 4 at 2); and compensatory and punitive damages for each day spent in segregation beyond the seven-day period provided by 12.02.27.12B(3) of the Code of Maryland Regulations (“COMAR”). ECF 1 at 2-3. He also requests the return of documents allegedly confiscated in connection with his transport to a court appearance on November 15, 2017, some of which he contends were relevant to this case. ECF 4 at 1-2.[3]

         Defendant Stephen T. Moyer, the Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (“DPSCS”), has filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF 8), along with a memorandum (ECF 8-1) (collectively, the “Motion”) and exhibits. Plaintiff opposes the Motion (ECF 12) and has filed a memorandum (ECF 12-1) (collectively, the “Opposition”). ECF 12. Additionally, in response to this court's Order (ECF 11), defense counsel has responded to Shamsud'Diyn's concerns with regard to missing paperwork (ECF 13), prompting Shamsud'Diyn's reply. ECF 14.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, defendant Scott Oakley shall be DISMISSED[4] and summary judgment shall be GRANTED in favor of defendant Moyer.

         I. Contentions

         A. Plaintiff's Allegations

         Shamsud' Diyn contends that on September 27, 2017, he was charged with Inmate Rule Violations in Case Number 2017-070. ECF 1 at 1. He also contends that on October 2, 2017, he was served with additional Inmate Rule Violations in two separate cases: Case 2017-071 & 2017-072. ECF 1 at 1.

         At the time plaintiff filed this complaint on November 6, 2017, he had not received a hearing on any of the violations.[5] This delay, he claims, violated state administrative law and other authorities. Id.

         Specifically, Shamsud'Diyn states that DPSCS employees violated COMAR 12.02.27.12B(3) by failing to present him for a hearing within seven days. Id. at 2-3. Further, he contends the seven-day time requirement is mandatory and that the failure to comply is a flagrant violation of administrative law and a reckless disregard for his rights. Id. at 3. According to plaintiff, the cause of the delay must be documented and that “the administrative law blunder and backlog” of institutional cases does not constitute “exceptional circumstances” within the meaning of the COMAR regulation, sufficient to excuse the delay. Id. at 3.

         In his supplemental complaint, Shamsud'Diyn claims that each day spent beyond the seven-day COMAR rule is “punitive segregation.” ECF 4 at 2. Further, he states that due to his “punitive [housing] status, ” his property was withheld, including his Black's Law Dictionary and other personal property, in retaliation for his exercise of his constitutional right of access to the courts. Id.

         In his Opposition, Shamsud'Diyn argues that the legal papers confiscated from him on November 15, 2017, during his transport for a court appearance, included “witness information, statements, and other information” relevant to his institutional charges, and left him no choice but to plead guilty to those charges. ECF 12-1 at 1-2.[6] Although the claim regarding the loss of paperwork during the November 2017 transport was not added as a supplemental allegation in this case, Shamsud'Diyn argues that the confiscation raises a genuine dispute of material fact, requiring additional discovery, including testimony of Corporals Brunk and Hoffman, who could not find the paperwork after Shamsud' Diyn returned from court. ECF 14 at 1. However, Shamsud' Diyn acknowledges that Corporal Josh Rowland “did not confiscate the papers in a vindictive or retaliatory manner, ” but took them because of the “metal binders.” Id.[7]

         B. Defendant's Arguments

         The record evidence submitted by Moyer provides a somewhat different version of events.

         On September 17, 2017, prison officials convened an investigation into a suspected altercation between Shamsud' Diyn and a fellow prisoner. During the investigation, Shamsud' Diyn was placed in administrative segregation pending adjustment (“Admin Seg PA”) housing. ECF 8-2, Declaration of Brian Bell, Correctional Case Management Specialist, ¶ 3; ECF 8-3, Declaration of Tina Hull, Secretary in the Warden's Office, with attachments, at 16.

         Ten days later, on September 27, 2017, while the investigation into that suspected altercation was still ongoing, Shamsud'Diyn was issued rule violation notice 2017-070, in regard to an unrelated incident involving two letters he admitted to writing that included threats of violence towards another prisoner. ECF 8-2, ¶ 4; ECF 8-3 at 3. As a result, plaintiff remained on Admin Seg PA. ECF 8-2, ¶ 4.

         On October 2, 2017, Shamsud'Diyn incurred two additional rule violation notices, 2017-071 and 2017-072, for assault and for disobeying orders, respectively. ECF 8-3 at 5, 8. The investigation that initially led to Shamsud'Diyn's placement on Admin Seg PA was found to be unverified, and he was not charged with any rule violation with regard to that incident. ECF 8-2, ¶ 3. Nonetheless, Shamsud'Diyn remained in segregation pending the outcome of the three cases involving rule violations. ECF 8-2, ¶ 5.

         The rule violation cases were consolidated for hearing, which was held at MCTC on December 19, 2017. ECF 8-2, ¶ 9; ECF 8-3 at 11. Plaintiff was advised of his right to waive a hearing and to plead guilty. He elected to waive his right to a full hearing on the merits and pleaded guilty to eight rule violation charges stemming from the three cases, pursuant to a plea agreement. ECF 8-3 at 12-14. According to the plea agreement, the hearing officer imposed the recommended penalty of 90 days disciplinary segregation, effective from September 27, 2017 to December 25, 2017. Id. at 14. The institution had also requested revocation of 90 good time diminution credits, but records indicated there were none to take. Id. at 15. Moreover, should Shamsud'Diyn accumulate good time in the future, the credits will not be retroactively revoked. ECF 8-2, ¶ 8.

         Shamsud'Diyn returned to general population housing on February 1, 2018. Id. Between September 27, 2017 and February 1, 2018, he met with his prison case manager approximately ten times. ECF 8-2, ¶ 7. During these interactions, Shamsud'Diyn did not mention that he was deprived of his Black's Law Dictionary. ECF 8-3 at 1, ¶ 3.

         Record evidence is also presented with regard to Shamsud'Diyn's claim of confiscation of papers during his court appearance of November 15, 2017. Transportation was provided by Correctional Officer Josh Rowland, who avers that prisoners are advised at the time of transport that they are not permitted to carry legal paperwork unrelated to the case for which they are being transported. ECF 13-1, Rowland Declaration, ¶ 4.[8] Prohibited paperwork is confiscated, placed in a bag with the prisoner's name and DOC number, and held at the institution until the prisoner returns. Id. ¶ 5. No. record or logbook of any confiscated paperwork is kept while the paperwork is temporarily stored. Id. Rowland cannot recall any interaction with Shamsud'Diyn, and found no notation in his notebook that he confiscated any paperwork from Shamsud'Diyn Id. ¶ 6.

         Tull avers that Shamsud'Diyn did not file an Administrative Remedy Procedure (“ARP”) complaint regarding his Black's Law Dictionary or confiscated paperwork affecting his rule violation hearings or this court case. ECF 13-2 at 1, ¶ 3.

         II. Standard of Review

         Defendant's motion is styled as a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. ECF 12. A motion styled in this manner implicates the court's discretion under Rule 12(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Kensington Vol. Fire Dept., Inc. v. Montgomery County, 788 F.Supp.2d 431, 436-37 (D. Md. 2011). Ordinarily, a court “is not to consider matters outside the pleadings or resolve factual disputes when ruling on a motion to dismiss.” Bosiger v. U.S. Airways, 510 F.3d 442, 450 (4th Cir. 2007). However, under Rule 12(b)(6), a court, in its discretion, may consider matters outside of the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(d). If the court does so, “the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56, ” and “[a]ll parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present all the material that is pertinent to the motion.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). When the movant expressly captions its motion “in the alternative” as one for summary judgment, and submits matters outside ...


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