United States District Court, D. Maryland
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Anne Maddox's
Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 21). The Motion is ripe for disposition,
and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6.
(D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will
grant Maddox's Motion.
is a Division of Corrections (the “DOC”) inmate
presently housed at the North Branch Correctional Institution
(“NBCI”) in Cumberland, Maryland. (Compl. at 1,
ECF No. 1). On March 14, 2015 at approximately 9:47
a.m., Harris and other inmates were in the dining room when
an inmate repeatedly struck another inmate in the back of the
head with a sock containing an A/C adaptor, and then a second
inmate joined in the assault. (Harris Aff. ¶¶ 2-3,
ECF No. 23-3; Def.'s Mot. Dismiss Mot. Summ. J.
[“Def.'s Mot.”] Ex. 1 at 4, ECF No.
21-2). A corrections officer ordered the inmates
to stop fighting. (Def.'s Mot. Ex. 1 at 4). When the
inmates did not comply, the corrections officer deployed
pepper spray in the area. (Id.).
the inmates involved in the incident were removed from the
dining room, Officer Christopher McKenzie (“Officer
McKenzie”) found Harris sitting on the A/C adaptor,
“attempting to conceal it from staff.”
(Id.). Officer McKenzie confiscated the weapon and
secured it inside the NBCI Evidence Room. (Id.).
According to Officer McKenzie, Harris was handcuffed and
escorted to Housing Unit #1, where he was and placed on
administrative segregation pending adjustment. (Id.
same day, Officer McKenzie's supervisor, Ernest Dolly,
charged Harris with three rule violations: (1) the
possession, use, or manufacture of a weapon; (2) interfering
with or resisting the performance of staff duties to include
a search of a person, item, area or location; and (3)
possessing or passing contraband. (Id.). Harris was
given notice of an inmate disciplinary hearing (the
“Notice”) along with the rule violation report
(the “Rule Violation Report”). (Id. at
7). The Notice stated, in relevant part, that Harris
“may be permitted to call a witness” at the
hearing if he “list[s] the individual by name
below.” (Id.). The Notice cautioned Harris
that “failure to list a witness by name below at
the time of the service of this notice shall be deemed at
your hearing a waiver by you of the witness.”
(Id.). Harris did not list the names of any
witnesses he intended to call, nor did he sign the Notice.
(Id. at 7-9). He asserts that he “was not
allowed to sign the Notice of Inmate Rule Violation
Form.” (Pl.'s Opp'n at 1, ECF No. 23).
March 31, 2015, Harris attended his formal disciplinary
hearing, at which Maddox served as the hearing officer.
(Compl. at 3, 6). Harris moved for Maddox to review camera
footage of the incident, which she granted. (Def.'s Mot.
Ex. 1 at 10). Harris also testified that he had complied with
the corrections officer's order to get down on the floor
during the incident and that “unfortunately, after all
was said and done the weapon was in [his] area.”
(Id. at 11). According to Harris, contrary to
Officer McKenzie's report, the officers patted him down
and allowed him to return to his housing unit before moving
him to administrative segregation thirty minutes later.
(Id.). Harris also asserted that the officers never
confiscated a weapon from him. (Id.). Harris asked
to call Sgt. Forney as a witness, but Maddox denied his
request he did not list any witness on the Notice at the time
of service. (Compl. at 6; Def.'s Mot. Ex. 1 at 10;
see also id. at 7).
found Harris guilty of all three rule violations. (Def.'s
Mot. Ex. 1 at 12- 13). She imposed sanctions of 110 days in
disciplinary segregation, revocation of 110 good conduct
credits, and suspension of his visitation privileges for six
months. (Id.). Maddox provided the following written
explanation for her decision:
Treston Harris stated that the officer did not confiscate
anything from him nor was he locked up in the dining hall,
but the officers came to the cell later and locked him up.
The video does show that Officer McKenzie left the dining
hall without Harris, but the Serious Incident Report
indicated that Officer McKenzie took the pieces of the weapon
to Operations for placement in the Contraband box, and not
that he escorted Harris to segregation unit. It is unlikely
that the officer would carry the weapon to the segregation
unit, thus it makes sense that Harris was taken by someone
else. Hearing Officer finds that Harris did pick up the
pieces of the object that was used to assault another inmate
and did possess the remains of the weapon.
(Id. at 12).
appealed Maddox's decision and sanctions to Frank Bishop,
Warden of NBCI (“Warden Bishop”), arguing that
Maddox refused to call Sgt. Forney as a witness and that her
decision was unsupported by any evidence. (Compl. Ex. A at 1,
ECF No. 1-1). On April 22, 2015, Warden Bishop affirmed
Maddox's guilty findings but reduced Harris's
segregation period from 110 to ninety days and reduced his
good conduct credit revocation from 110 to thirty credits.
(Compl. Exs. B-C, ECF Nos. 1-2, 1-3). Warden Bishop imposed a
forty-five-day cell restriction. (Id.). On May 21,
2015, Harris appealed to the Inmate Grievance Office
(“IGO”), arguing that Maddox violated his
procedural due process rights. (Compl. Ex. D at 1-2, ECF No.
1-4). The IGO scheduled a hearing on Harris's appeal for
August 5, 2015. (Compl. Ex. E, ECF No. 1-5).
August 4, 2015, a day before the scheduled hearing was to
take place, Patricia Goins-Johnson, the Department of Public
Safety and Correctional Services'(“DPSCS”)
Executive Director of Field Services, sent a memorandum to
Warden Bishop reversing Harris's convictions and vacating
the sanctions imposed, including the forty-five-day cell
restriction. (Compl. Ex. I, ECF No. 1-9). Goins-Johnson
indicated that the video of the incident did not show Officer
McKenzie confronting Harris or recovering a weapon.
(Id.). She acknowledged that Harris returned to his
cell and that Maddox did not “sufficiently
resolve” the discrepancies between Officer
McKenzie's report and what was depicted on the video.
the IGO hearing the following day, counsel for the DOC moved
to dismiss Harris's grievance as moot based on
Goins-Johnson's decision. (Compl. Ex. J at 7-10, ECF No.
1-10). The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
granted that motion. (Id. at 10; Compl. Ex. K at 6,
ECF No. 1-11). Thereafter, Harris appealed the ALJ's
decision to the Circuit Court for Allegany County, Maryland,
(Compl. Ex. M at 1-3, ECF No. 1-13), which affirmed the
ALJ's dismissal of Harris's grievance, (Compl. Ex. V,
ECF No. 1-22).
March 6, 2018, Harris sued Maddox under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
(2018), alleging that she wrongfully convicted him of false
charges following his formal disciplinary hearing on March
31, 2015. (Compl. at 6). According to Harris, Maddox denied
him the right to present exculpatory evidence, failed to
properly conduct the hearing, exhibited bias, and decided his
case arbitrarily. (Id. at 6-7). As a result, Harris
asserts, he was wrongfully forced to endure ninety days in
disciplinary segregation, where his outdoor recreation time
was limited; he was denied visitation privileges; and he lost
access to the telephone, commissary, library, religious
services, cognitive activities, and electronics.
(Id. at 7-9). Harris avers that Maddox violated his
procedural due process rights and that the sanction she
imposed deprived him of a liberty interest. (Id.).
Harris seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (Id.
August 20, 2018, Maddox filed a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 21).
Harris filed an Opposition on September 17, 2018. (ECF No.
23). To ...