United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
Aiken United States District Judge.
an inmate at Oregon State Penitentiary, filed suit pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging numerous violations of his
constitutional rights. Defendants now move for summary
judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 on
plaintiffs remaining claims. For the reasons set forth below,
defendants' motion is granted.
September 5, 2015, I granted summary judgment on several of
plaintiffs claims.(ECF No. 135) Defendants now move for
summary judgment on plaintiffs remaining claims, as follows:
1) Claim I - conspiracy; 2) Claim IV - disciplinary
proceedings conducted in violation of plaintiff s due process
and equal protection rights; 3) Claim V - confiscation and
censorship of plaintiffs mail in violation of his First
Amendment rights; 4) Claim VI - denial of legal envelopes in
violation of plaintiff s First Amendment right of access to
the courts; and 5) Claim IX - arbitrary transfer to
segregated housing in violation of plaintiff s due process
prevail on their motion for summary judgment, defendants must
show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The court must construe the evidence
and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to plaintiff. Torres v. City of Madera,
648 F.3d 1119, 1123 (9th Cir. 2011).
alleges that Drs. Vargo, Shelton, Hanson; Assistant Attorneys
General Aaron Sprague and Andrew Hallman; and U.S. District
Judge Simon conspired against him by submitting false
declarations and making misrepresentations in a prior
lawsuit. Am. Compl. at 7- 11 (ECF No. 55); see Williams
v. Or. Dep't Corr., Case No. 3:10-cv-00730-SI. In
previous opinions, the Court dismissed all claims against,
Sprague, and Hallman, and Judge Simon has not been served.
(ECF Nos. 13, 80) Regardless, Judge Simon's actions in a
judicial proceeding are entitled to absolute immunity.
Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 418 (1976)
(stating that the "absolute immunity of judges for
'acts committed within their judicial
jurisdiction'" is "preserved under §
1983"). With respect to the remaining defendants,
plaintiff alleges that Drs. Vargo, Shelton, and Hanson
colluded and intentionally submitted false declarations,
which led to the dismissal of plaintiff s claims.
argue that plaintiffs conspiracy claim should be dismissed
because conspiracy is a state criminal offense and plaintiff
has no standing to raise this claim in federal court.
Construing plaintiffs claim liberally, I find that plaintiff
arguably invokes the federal constitution and alleges
conspiracy to violate his civil rights. See 42
U.S.C. § 1985(3). Nonetheless, defendants are entitled
to summary judgment.
response, plaintiff simply repeats his allegations regarding
Sprague and Hallman and argues that former Governor Kitzhaber
was obligated to review his complaints. Pl'.s Reply at
15, 20 (ECF No. 168). I dismissed plaintiffs claims against
Sprague, Hallman, and Kitzhaber (ECF No. 80), and plaintiff
presents no evidence to support an inference that Drs. Vargo,
Shelton, and Hanson conspired to deny him the equal
protection of the law. See Addisu v. Fred Meyer,
Inc., 198 F.3d 1130, 1141 (9th Cir. 2000) (elements of a
§ 1985(3) claim are: "(1) the existence of a
conspiracy to deprive the plaintiff of the equal protection
of the laws; (2) an act in furtherance of the conspiracy; and
(3) a resulting injury"). Moreover, Judge Simon
addressed plaintiffs allegations in his prior action and
found no misrepresentation. Case No. 3:10-cv-00730-SI (ECF
No. 166). Accordingly, summary judgment is granted on this
Disciplinary Hearing and Sanctions
also alleges that a disciplinary proceeding violated his
rights to due process and discriminated against him on the
basis of his race. Am. Compl. at 15-20.
March 14, 2012, plaintiff received a Misconduct Report
accusing him of Inmate Assault in the First Degree and
Disrespect in the First Degree based on the assault of
plaintiffs cellmate. Thornton Decl. at 2 & Att. 2 at 29.
On March 20, 2012, Hearings Officer Nancy Thornton conducted
a disciplinary hearing and found that plaintiff had committed
the charged offenses. Thornton imposed sanctions of 120 days
in the Disciplinary Segregation Unit (DSU) with an additional
60 days in the DSU due to the aggravating factor of
"persistent involvement in similar misconduct or
repetitive assaults." Thornton Decl. Att. 1 at 3.
Thornton also imposed a monetary fine, loss of privileges,
and restitution for medical expenses. Id. Plaintiff
maintains that Thornton did not comply with due process
requirements and discriminated against him.
disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal
prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant
in such proceedings does not apply." Wolff v.
McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556 (1974). Instead, due
process requirements are met if the inmate receives: 1)
advance written notice of the charges and the evidence
against him; 2) an opportunity to present documentary
evidence and witnesses; 3) legal assistance if the charges
are complex or the inmate is illiterate; 4) a written
statement describing the reasons for the disciplinary action;
and 5) a disciplinary decision supported by "some
evidence" in the record. Id. at 563, 566, 570;
Superintendent v. Hill, 472 U.S. 445, 454-55 (1985).
Generally, judicial review of a prison disciplinary decision
is limited to whether there is a denial of procedural due
process or evidence of an arbitrary and capricious action.
Hill, 472 U.S. at 454-55; Cato v. Rushen,
824 F.2d 703, 705 (9th Cir. 1987). A court must defer to
prison officials' judgments and cannot substitute its
view of the facts presented in a prison disciplinary hearing.
See Hill, 472 U.S. at 455 (the "some
evidence" standard does not "require examination of
the entire record, independent assessment of the credibility
of witnesses, or weighing of the evidence").
first argues that he was not given adequate notice of the
charges and evidence against him. Plaintiff maintains that
the Misconduct Report merely stated that plaintiffs cellmate
reported that he fell from his bunk and that correctional
officers later found blood on plaintiffs shoes and clothes;
plaintiff contends that the evidence presented at the hearing
was "totally different." Pl'.s Reply at 8.
that plaintiff received sufficient notice of the charges
against him. Plaintiff received the Misconduct Report more
than twenty-four hours prior to his hearing. The report
stated that plaintiffs cellmate "looked as he had been
hit numerous times in the face" and referenced the blood
found in the cell and on plaintiffs clothing and shoes.
Thornton Decl. Att. 2 at 29. Granted, plaintiff apparently
learned that he was accused of committing the assault because
of his cellmate's Muslim practices on the day of the
disciplinary hearing. Id. Att. 1 at 20, Att. 2 at
16; Pl'.s Ex. 15 (ECF No. 168-1). However, I find that
the Misconduct Report sufficiently notified plaintiff of the
charges and the physical evidence against him. Moreover, by
plaintiffs own admission, he challenged his cellmate's
version of events, suggested that his cellmate took drugs,
provided an alternative explanation for his cellmate's
injuries, and described his own long-standing Muslim faith.
next argues that Thornton's decision was not supported by
reliable evidence. As noted above, "the requirements of
due process are satisfied if some evidence supports
the decision" of prison officials. Hill, 472
U.S. at 455 (emphasis added). Here, Thornton noted the blood
found on plaintiffs clothing and shoes, blood found in the
cell, and the injuries to plaintiffs cellmate. Thornton Decl.
Att. 1 at 2-3. While plaintiff takes issue with
Thornton's interpretation of the evidence, the only
question before this court is whether "some
evidence" supported her decision. This "standard is
'minimally stringent' only requiring
'any evidence in the record that could
support'" the disciplinary decision. Cato,
824 F.2d at 705 (quoting Hill, ...