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Wells v. Goodwin

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

February 6, 2017

ROBERT WELLS
v.
JERRY GOODWIN, ET AL.

          HICKS JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mark L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge

         In accordance with the standing order of this court, this matter was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge for review, report and recommendation.

         STATEMENT OF CLAIM

         Before the court is a civil rights complaint filed in forma pauperis by pro se plaintiff Robert Wells (“Plaintiff”), pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This complaint was received and filed in this court on October 31, 2016. Plaintiff is incarcerated at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana, and claims his civil rights were violated by prison officials. He names Jerry Goodwin, Lonnie Nail, Mark Hunter, and Jesse Jimerson as defendants.

         Plaintiff claims he has been on extended lock-down since February 15, 2016 for a Rule #11 violation. He claims that on May 12, 2016, Colonel Lonnie Nail and Jesse Jimerson held a classification review hearing. He claims he was denied the opportunity to be present at the hearing and therefore denied due process.

         Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks the right to be present at his hearings, his release from extended lock-down, to be free from retaliation, and any other relief to which he is entitled by law.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Due Process in the Disciplinary Process

         Plaintiff claims he was denied due process during his prison disciplinary proceedings. He claims that he was denied the opportunity to be present at his classification hearing. To the extent Plaintiff contends he was punished without due process, that claim is not cognizable.

         In Sandin v. Connor, 515 U.S. 472, 115 S.Ct. 2293, 132 L.Ed.2d 418 (1995), the Supreme Court clarified when due process protections attach to the prison disciplinary process. The Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not afford an inmate a protected liberty interest that would entitle the inmate to procedural protections in the disciplinary process when the maximum sanction the inmate could receive does not "present the type of atypical, significant deprivation in which a state might conceivably create a liberty interest" and the duration of the prisoner's original sentence is not affected. Id. 132 L.Ed.2d at 431.

         Under the guidance provided by Sandin, the Fifth Circuit has held that as a general rule, only sanctions which result in loss of good time credit or which otherwise directly and adversely affect release will implicate a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Orellana v. Kyle, 65 F.3d 29, 31-32 (5th Cir. 1995). Moreover, in commenting on Sandin, the Fifth Circuit noted that liberty interests which are protected by the Due Process Clause are generally limited to actions which affect the quantity of time rather than the quality of time served by a prisoner. Madison v. Parker, 104 F.3d 765, 767 (5th Cir. 1997) citing Sandin, 115 S.Ct. at 2297.

         Plaintiff does not allege that the disciplinary action affected the duration of his original sentence or that the disciplinary sentence was atypical of the prison environment. To the contrary, Plaintiff's allegations concern placement in extended lock-down which is far from “extraordinary.” This court finds that under Sandin, Orellana and Madison, placement in extended lock-down does not constitute the type of atypical punishment that presents a significant deprivation which would implicate due process concerns. Hence, Plaintiff's claims that he was punished without due process of law are without merit.

         Clas ...


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