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Wilkerson v. Goodwin

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 17, 2014

ROBERT KING WILKERSON; ALBERT WOODFOX; VICTORY WALLACE; BARBARA WALLACE MARSHALL; LORRAINA WALLACE ANDERSON; JUSTINA WALLACE WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs - Appellees
v.
JERRY GOODWIN, Warden, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacity; JAMES ARNOLD, Deputy Warden of Security, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities; LONNIE NAIL, Lieutenant Colonel, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities; MARK HUNTER, Classification Officer, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities; HOWARD PRINCE, Warden, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities; GREG MCKEY, Assistant Warden of Security, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities; BETTY JOHNSON, Lieutenant Colonel, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in her official and individual capacities; KEVIN DURBIN, Lieutenant Colonel, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities; JEFFREY GLADNEY, Classification Officer, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities; CHRIS EVANS, Defendants - Appellants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

For Robert King Wilkerson, Albert Woodfox, Plaintiffs - Appellees: Carine M. Williams, Corrine A. Irish, Esq., George H. Kendall, Squire Patton Boggs (U.S.) LLP, New York, NY; Katherine Michelle Kimpel, Sanford Heisler, L.L.P., Washington, DC; William P. Quigley, Loyola University, School of Law, New Orleans, LA; Nicholas Joseph Trenticosta, Esq., Attorney, Herrero & Trenticosta, New Orleans, LA.

For Victory Wallace, Barbara Wallace Marshall, Lorraina Wallace Anderson, Justina Wallace Williams, Plaintiffs - Appellees: Carine M. Williams, Corrine A. Irish, Esq., George H. Kendall, Squire Patton Boggs (U.S.) LLP, New York, NY; Thomas Jonathan Corrington, Corrington Law Firm, New Orleans, LA; Katherine Michelle Kimpel, Sanford Heisler, L.L.P., Washington, DC.

For JERRY GOODWIN, Warden, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacity, JAMES ARNOLD, Deputy Warden of Security, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities, LONNIE NAIL, Lieutenant Colonel, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities, MARK HUNTER, Classification Officer, David Wade Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities, HOWARD PRINCE, Warden, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities, GREG MCKEY, Assistant Warden of Security, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities, BETTY JOHNSON, Lieutenant Colonel, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in her official and individual capacities, KEVIN DURBIN, Lieutenant Colonel, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities, JEFFREY GLADNEY, Classification Officer, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, in his official and individual capacities, Chris Evans, Defendants - Appellants: Stuart Kyle Duncan, Duncan, P.L.L.C., Washington, DC; John F. Weeks II, Usry, Weeks & Matthews, A.P.L.C., New Orleans, LA.

Before KING, GRAVES, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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JAMES E. GRAVES, JR., Circuit Judge:

Plaintiff-Appellee Albert Woodfox asserts a Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim against various prison officials at the David Wade Correctional Facility (" Wade" ) in Louisiana, arising out of his lengthy and continuing incarceration in solitary confinement. The district court denied the defendant prison officials' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. We affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiff Albert Woodfox asserts that his solitary confinement, which has now lasted nearly thirty-nine years, persists indefinitely without justification and without adequate procedural protections, in violation of the constitutional guarantee of due process. Woodfox and his previous co-plaintiff,

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Herman Wallace, were originally placed in closed-cell restriction (" CCR" ), also referred to as " extended lockdown," in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (" LSP" ) in 1972 after they were suspected of the murder of corrections officer Brent Miller, a crime for which they were subsequently convicted. With the exception of a three-year transfer to a parish jail and a brief period in which he was housed in a dormitory setting at LSP, Woodfox has been held continually in CCR. He was transferred to CCR at Wade in November 2010, where he continues to be held.

The district court found, and the record supports, that CCR at both LSP and Wade is the effective equivalent of solitary confinement. The district court described the conditions in CCR as follows:

Extended lockdown, also known as closed cell restrictions or administrative segregation, is a form of incarceration at LSP, Hunt, and Wade that is similar to solitary confinement. The prisoners thereto assigned remain alone in cells approximately 23 hours each day. During the other hour, a prisoner may shower and walk along the tier in which his cell is located. Three times a week, the prisoner may use this hour to exercise alone in a fenced yard, if the weather permits. The prisoners in extended lockdown also face additional restrictions on privileges generally available to inmates such as personal property, reading materials, access to legal resources, work, and visitation rights. In contrast, inmates in the general prison population live in a dormitory setting where they can interact with one another, attend religious ceremonies and take advantage of educational opportunities, training, and other privileges denied to those in extended lockdown.

Wilkerson v. Stalder (Wilkerson II), No. 3:00-CV-304, 2013 WL 6665452, at *2 n.5 (M.D. La. Dec. 17, 2013) (order denying summary judgment). The inmates in CCR appear before a review board every ninety days. Woodfox asserts that he receives inadequate " sham" reviews before the board. The district court reviewed the evidence submitted regarding the review boards and concluded that " the Plaintiffs' placement in CCR was and remains indefinite." Id. at *9.

When the summary judgment motion was decided in the district court and briefed in this court, Herman Wallace's due process claim against prison officials at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Facility (" Hunt" ) was still pending, asserted by his family after his death in October 2013.[1] Wallace was held in CCR at LSP and Hunt for over forty years. After oral argument, counsel informed us that Wallace's claims against the Hunt officials have now been settled and dismissed, and thus are no longer at issue in this appeal.

The underlying litigation has a lengthy procedural history, which we briefly summarize to give the necessary context to the current appeal. Plaintiffs originally filed this § 1983 action against various LSP officials and the Louisiana Secretary of Corrections (collectively " LSP Defendants" ) in 2000, when Woodfox and Wallace had each been held in solitary confinement for over twenty years.[2] They

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asserted that the LSP Defendants violated their First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights by keeping them in such prolonged solitary confinement. Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an injunction ordering that they be removed from CCR and housed with the general prison population. The district court denied the LSP Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the due process claims based on qualified immunity. On appeal, this court affirmed the denial of the motion to dismiss. Wilkerson v. Stalder (Wilkerson I), 329 F.3d 431, 436 (5th Cir. 2003). The LSP Defendants subsequently filed for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity, arguing that the Plaintiffs' placement in CCR was an initial security classification that implicated no due process rights. The district court denied that motion, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment and, alternatively, that the extraordinary duration of the solitary confinement ...


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