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Holly v. Richardson

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 6, 2019




         Plaintiff Terrell Holly filed this action alleging due process violations related to prison disciplinary proceedings at the Dorsey Run Correctional Facility (DRCF). Pending and ready for review is Defendant Richardson's Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 23, which Plaintiff opposed. ECF No. 25.[1] The Court finds a hearing in these matters unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendant's dispositive motion, construed as one for Summary Judgment, is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 7, 2017, Officer Kevin Richardson issued a notice of inmate rule violation (NOIRV) to Holly arising his failure to follow Richardson's commands. The violation alleged that:

On June 6, 2017; at approximately 2:15 P.M., I, Officer Richardson and Officer Moore were assigned to count the second floor for the institutional stand up count. Once we entered, I gave the order for the count. I, Officer Richardson ordered the third row to stand up, but they refused. I came to the next bunk and gave a direct order for Terrell Holly #2169934, bunk #35, but he refused as so did the other inmates within the dorm. The unruly inmate's behavior was so bad that it interfered with our duties in counting the dorm. That's when the entire dorm came to the front and sat down on the benches located in the front of the dorm. The entire dorm was ordered to go back to their bunks, but they all refused. I, Officer Richardson had immediately called Unit 6, Sergeant D.A. Johnson to respond with other officers. Inmate Holly was identified by tier roster and bunk location.

ECF No. 1-1 at 1. The NOIRV charged Holly with engaging in a disruptive act (Rule Violation 100), interfering with or resisting the performance of staff duties (Rule Violation 312), disobeying an order (Rule Violation 400), and failing to possess or properly display a required inmate identification badge (Rule Violation 500). Id. Richardson signed the NOIRV under penalty of perjury. Id.

         On July 19, 2017, Hearing Officer Thomas Williams conducted a disciplinary hearing regarding the NOIRV notice. ECF No. 1 at 3. Holly pleaded not guilty to all charges. ECF No. 1-1 at 2. Richardson participated in the hearing via teleconference, and Holly was afforded the opportunity to question him. Holly questioned Richardson regarding the circumstances surrounding Holly's refusal to go to his bunk. Id. at 2-3. Holly alleges that Williams “not only coached Ofc. Kevin Richardson through the hearing but used his false testimony and allowed it.” ECF No. 1-1 at 3.[2] Holly does not offer any specifics on how Williams “coached” Richardson, nor is any such coaching plausibly inferred from the record.

         After the hearing, Williams found Holly guilty of interfering with or resisting the performance of staff duties and disobeying an order, but not guilty of the remaining charges. In his decision, Williams explained that he “weigh[ed] and consider[ed] all evidence, ” and found “that [Holly] did not report to his assigned bunk during stand-up count when ordered. This is a violation of Rule 312 & 400.” ECF No. 1-1 at 2; ECF No. 23-2 at 6-7. As a sanction, Holly was placed in segregation housing for 30 days and had 20 diminution credits revoked. ECF No. 23-2 at 7. Holly also contends that his transfer to Roxbury Correctional Institution (RCI) was the result of this infraction.[3]

         Holly challenges Williams's decision primarily because, in Holly's view, Richardson testified inconsistently when compared with his sworn statement in the NOIRV. Holly complains that although Richardson testified he did not come to Holly's bunk to request that Holly stand for the count, Richardson also stated in the NOIRV that he “did come to [Holly's] bunk and give that order.” Holly also highlights that Richardson at the hearing had agreed that Holly was not unruly during the incident, although Richardson in the NOIRV used the term “unruly inmate's behavior.” ECF No. 1-1 at 2-3. At bottom, Holly contends that Williams could not rationally conclude Holly had committed the two rule violations because Richardson testified inconsistently with his NOIRV statement. ECF No. 1-1 at 3.

         On the day of the hearing (July 19, 2017), Holly filed an appeal with the Warden at DRCF, but avers that he never received a response. ECF No. 1-8 at 1. On July 21, 2017, Holly was transferred to RCI, where he again appealed this ruling with the Warden of that facility. Id. On August 19, 2017, Holly filed a grievance with the Inmate Grievance Office (IGO). Holly mailed the grievance to an address on Sudbrook Lane, the address provided in Holly's inmate handbook. Id. at 1-2; see also ECF No. 1-1 at 14. Holly also sent the Commissioner for the Division of Correction a letter dated September 1, 2017. See ECF No. 1-1 at 12 (referencing that letter).

         On September 13, 2017, RCI Warden Miller responded in writing to Holly. Miller noted that the Commissioner had referred Holly's letter to Miller for response. As to the substance of Holly's complaint, Miller stated:

I did review your hearing on August 8, 2017, affirming the guilty finding, but reducing your sanction to a total of 22 days disciplinary segregation, which ended your sanction on August 9, 2017. I never received an appeal from you and on the date that I reviewed your hearing it was August 8, 2017, which was the 20th day from the hearing and the time for filing an appeal is 15 days after receiving the hearing officer's decision. The appeal which you included with your letter was dated July 19, 2017, which I never received; as well you did not transfer to RCI until July 21, 2017.
Based on my review of the officer's report, the hearing record and the information you supplied with your letter, I affirmed the hearing officer's decision and stand on my decision to reduce the sanction imposed from 30 days disciplinary segregation to 22 days.

Id. Miller also informed Holly that should Holly wish to pursue an appeal regarding the disciplinary hearing, Holly should direct the appeal to the IGO at an address on Reisterstown Road. Id. In addition to sending it to Holly, Miller indicated that a copy of the letter was to be ...

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