United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
EARL JOHNSON, JR. Plaintiff,
MELCHIZEDEK TODD, et al.Defendants.
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
20, 2017, Plaintiff Earl Johnson, Jr. filed this 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 action concerning prison disciplinary charges and
sanctions that were issued against him in 2012. ECF Nos. 1,
7. On February 9, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss
or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No.
29. Plaintiff has filed a Response in Opposition to the
dispositive motion, ECF No. 31, and a Motion for Summary
Judgment, ECF No. 34. The matter is now ripe for review. The
court finds a hearing in these matters unnecessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons
that follow, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is
denied and Defendants' dispositive Motion, construed as a
Motion for Summary Judgment, is granted.
31, 2012, Jessup Correctional Institution Officers Jaynice
Brooks and Christopher Kiviyatu conducted a search of
Plaintiff's shared cell. ECF No. 1 at 4; ECF No. 1-1 at
13. According to Plaintiff, an unknown object was on the
floor, which Plaintiff picked up; the object was subsequently
determined to contain suboxone, a contraband substance. ECF
No. 1 at 4; ECF No. 1-1 at 2, 13. Plaintiff's cellmate
claimed ownership of the object. ECF No. 1 at 4.
result of this search, on August 1, 2012,
Brooks charged Plaintiff with Rule Violation
ECF No. 1-1 at 13. Also on August 1, 2012, Plaintiff received
another Notice of Inmate Rule Violation which charged him
with Rule Violation 111, possession or use of an unauthorized
drug (excluding alcohol and controlled dangerous substances),
and Rule Violation 406, possession of
contraband. ECF No. 1-1 at 2. This second Notice was
drafted by Defendant Todd and based on his field test of the
substance found during the search of Plaintiff's cell.
Id. The Notice recommended that Plaintiff be placed
on administrative segregation pending a hearing, and
Defendant Rowland approved this recommendation. Id.
August 28, 2012, a disciplinary hearing for each Notice of
Rule Violation was held, both conducted by the same hearing
officer. See ECF No. 1-1 at 4-6 (hearing for Rule
Violations 111 and 406 assigned Event ID number 2012-336986
and reportedly commenced at 1:40AM); ECF No. 1-1 at 12-13
(hearing for Rule Violation 114 assigned Event ID number
2012-337072 and reportedly commenced at 1:24AM). The hearing
officer found Plaintiff not guilty of Rule Violation 114.
Id. at 12-13. However, the hearing officer found
Plaintiff guilty of Rule Violations 111 and 406, both of
which prohibit possession of certain items,
explaining that Plaintiff admitted physical possession of the
contraband item by admitting that he was holding the item in
his hand when the officers conducted the cell search.
Id. at 5-6. Accordingly, Plaintiff was ordered to be
placed in disciplinary segregation for 265 days, lost 265
days of good time credit, and had his visitation privileges
suspended for 18 months. Id. at 6; ECF No. 29-2 at
appealed the result of the disciplinary hearing to the
Warden. Id. at 8-10. On September 24, 2012, the
Warden ordered that the guilty finding on both violations be
reduced to “Incident Report.” ECF 1 at 4; ECF No.
1-1 at 11. Plaintiff's good time credit was restored, ECF
No. 29-2 at 2, and it appears that the other disciplinary
sanctions were dismissed or vacated as a result of the
Warden's conversion of the guilty finding to an incident
report. See ECF No. 1 at 4; ECF No. 1-1 at 11.
However, Plaintiff claims that, even after the Warden's
conversion of the guilty finding to an incident report,
Plaintiff remained in segregation housing for an additional
28 days. ECF No. 1 at 4.
point between April 2014 and October 2014, Plaintiff filed a
civil action against Defendant Todd in the District Court for
Anne Arundel County. See ECF No. 1 at 2
(Plaintiff's initial Complaint reports an approximate
filing date of April 2014); ECF No. 7 at 2 (Plaintiff's
Supplemental Complaint reports a filing date of June 4,
2014); Johnson v. Todd, Case No. 07-02-0009038-2014
(Dist. Ct. Anne Arundel Cnty.), available at
casesearch/inquiryByCaseNum.jis (Maryland Judiciary Case
Search reports filing date of October 9, 2014). On October 9,
2014, Todd moved to dismiss the state case, but this motion
was denied. ECF No. 7 at 2. Plaintiff states that the state
case was disposed of on December 10, 2014, id.,
although the Maryland Judiciary Case Search does not report
any such dismissal and designates the case status as
“active, ” Johnson v. Todd, Case No.
20, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant action. He alleges that
Defendants Kiviyatu and Todd wrongfully charged him with
disciplinary violations, and that such charges violated his
right to procedural due process. ECF No. 1 at 3-4. He asserts
that Defendant Rowland is also responsible because he
“has the last say” over whether Plaintiff should
be placed in segregation housing. Id. at 4.
Plaintiff states that the officers' decision to charge
him with disciplinary violations was “vindictive and
discriminatory” and evinced evil motive. Id.
However, the primary focus of the Complaint appears to be the
fact that Plaintiff was placed in segregation housing for 82
days as a result of the charges and subsequently converted
guilty finding. Id.
Defendants filed a responsive pleading, Plaintiff filed a
Supplemental Complaint. ECF No. 7 at 1, 3. Aside from the plain
statement that Plaintiff is also pursuing claims for
“False Imprisonment, Negligence, and Violation of the
MD Constitution, ” the Supplemental Complaint appears
aimed solely at preemptively arguing that Plaintiff's
Complaint was timely filed under the statute of limitations,
as it states:
I am transfer [sic] my case from District Court to U.S.
District Court limitation is if the three year run out
District Court in MD Court. I am transferring this claim this
should be [illegible] First well as claim see document I sent
to show limitation didnt run 12/10/2014 is the time of
limitation not to transfer the case out.
Id. at 2 (errors in original).
Court attempted to serve all three Defendants, but was unable
to obtain service on Defendant Todd. Defendants Kiviyatu and
Rowland filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 29. The Motion argued
that Plaintiff's claim was barred by the statute of
limitations and, alternatively, that he failed to
sufficiently allege that his placement in administrative
segregation implicated a constitutionally protected interest.
Id. at 4-6. Plaintiff filed a Response which was
captioned in the alternative as a Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 31. He has also filed a separate Motion for
Summary Judgment. ECF No. 34.