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Johnson v. Steele

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division

August 17, 2018

EARL JOHNSON, JR. #252-782, 335-615 Plaintiff,



         Earl Johnson (“Plaintiff”) is incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Training Center (“MCTC”) in Hagerstown, Maryland. Plaintiff filed a Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on May 3, 2018, alleging that Defendant Officer J. Steele[1] falsely charged him with possession of alcohol and that he was improperly strip searched and harassed as a result. ECF No. 1. On May 29, 2018, the Court granted Plaintiff twenty-eight days to supplement the Complaint in order to explain why he named Lohman and Godlove as Defendants and what law or constitutional provisions Defendants violated. ECF No. 3. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's supplement, filed on June 14, 2018, ECF No. 5, does not correct these deficiencies, and the Complaint is dismissed.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff claims that on June 27, 2017 and March 22, 2018, Steele falsely charged him with possession of alcohol. As a result, Plaintiff was placed in segregation for a total of 32 days and lost phone and visiting privileges. ECF No. 1; ECF No. 5 at 2. Plaintiff alleges that Steele discriminated against him because only Plaintiff, and not his cellmate, was charged with possession of alcohol. Plaintiff further alleges that Steele harassed him during a cell search by conducting a strip search and breaking his TV-radio-boombox. Id.

         As a part of his Complaint, Plaintiff filed a copy of the Notice of Inmate Rule Violation written by Steele dated March 22, 2018, which states:

After conducting a tier check when Housing Unit 6 was out to chow I could smell an alcohol like odor emanating from HU-6-C-1-14. When the unit returned from chow I placed both occupants of the cell in the rec hall until after my count was complete. The inmates that are housed in that cell are Brian Shelton DOC#462840 SID#42763000 and Earl Johnson DOC#252782 SID#335615. I asked both inmates if there was any contraband or any inmate made alcohol in the cell. Both inmates told me that there was no contraband in the cell. After conducting a cell search of 6-C-1-14 with Officer J. Munson, I discovered a large trash bag of inmate made alcohol at the foot of the bunk. Neither inmate claimed ownership of the alcohol. The contraband was photographed and the alcohol was testing [sic] using an alco screen test strip. Both inmates were positively identified by their state issued ID's.

ECF No. 1-1 at 1.

         The Notice was approved by Joseph Lohman. Id. at 1. The Notice charged Plaintiff with violating the following rules: 301-possession or use of alcohol without authorization; 302-possession of equipment, material or paraphernalia that may be used for manufacturing alcohol; 406-possession or passing contraband; and 114-possession of a controlled substance, intoxicant, or alcohol in sufficient quantity or packaging materials that suggests an intent to distribute or distribution. Id.

         Following a hearing, Hearing Officer La-Tricia Taylor issued a decision on April 4, 2018, in which she observed that the Notice of Rule Violation made no mention of the percentage of alcohol in the liquid or who performed the test. ECF No. 1-2 at 5. She therefore found Plaintiff not guilty of violating rules 114, 301, and 321. Id. Taylor noted, however, that a photograph of the alcohol strip was presented into evidence, showing the alcohol level at .08%. Id. at 3-5. Plaintiff accepted an incident report on the charge of violating rule 406. Id. at 4.

         Plaintiff also submitted a Notice of Inmate Rule Violation involving alcohol for an incident on June 7, 2017. ECF No. 1-4. Steele wrote the Notice, which states in part:

I witnessed an inmate later identified as Earl Johnson DOC #252782 SID #335615 drinking what appeared to be homemade alcohol in the rec hall. I witnessed inmate Johnson yelling loudly at several Ramadan inmates and inviting them to fight him. I ordered inmate Johnson out of the rec hall and could smell alcohol on his breath. I ordered inmate Johnson to turn around and be handcuffed to which he complied. After inmate Johnson was handcuffed, myself and Sgt. Calder went to inmate Johnson's cell and discovered numerous single bottles of homemade alcohol and one large bag of homemade alcohol. The suspected alcohol was tested utilizing an alco-screen test which tested at a .3% or higher range. Pictures were taken of the homemade alcohol and the inmate was identified using his DOC ID. Inmate Johnson was escorted to the dispensary for medical treatment.

ECF No. 1-4 at 1. Plaintiff, who was charged with violating rules 301, 406 and 114, pleaded guilty to Rule 406 before Hearing Officer David Sipes pursuant to a plea agreement. Id. at 2.

         Regarding Defendants Lohman and Godlove, Plaintiff appears to allege that Lohman discriminated against him by approving the March 22, 2018 violation without “test result percentages” or a “chain of custody.” ECF No. 5 at 3. Plaintiff appears to allege that Godlove discriminated against him because she did not respond to Plaintiff's request for her first name during the aforementioned hearing. Id.

         II. ...

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