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Robertson v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 20, 2017




         Please take notice that the attached Magistrate Judge's Report has been filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court.

         In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), you have fourteen (14) days after being served with the attached Report to file written objections to the proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommendations therein. Failure to file written objections to the proposed findings, conclusions, and recommendations within 14 days after being served will bar you, except upon grounds of plain error, from attacking on appeal the unobjected-to proposed factual findings and legal conclusions of the Magistrate Judge which have been accepted by the District Court.



         The pro se plaintiff, an inmate confined at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (“LSP”), Angola, Louisiana, filed this proceeding pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the United States, complaining that his constitutional rights were violated in connection with a disciplinary proceeding. He prays for monetary and injunctive relief.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A, this Court is authorized to dismiss an action or claim brought by a prisoner who is proceeding in forma pauperis or is asserting a claim against a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a governmental entity if satisfied that the action or claim is frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. An action or claim is properly dismissed as frivolous if the claim lacks an arguable basis either in fact or in law. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992), citing Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Hicks v. Garner, 69 F.3d 22, 24-25 (5th Cir. 1995).

         A claim is factually frivolous if the alleged facts are “clearly baseless, a category encompassing allegations that are ‘fanciful, ' ‘fantastic, ' and ‘delusional.'” Id. at 32-33. A claim has no arguable basis in law if it is based upon an indisputably meritless legal theory, “such as if the complaint alleges the violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist.” Davis v. Scott, 157 F.3d 1003, 1005 (5th Cir. 1998). The law accords judges not only the authority to dismiss a claim which is based on an indisputably meritless legal theory, but also the unusual power to pierce the veil of the factual allegations. Denton v. Hernandez, supra, 504 U.S. at 32. Pleaded facts which are merely improbable or strange, however, are not frivolous for purposes of § 1915. Id. at 33; Ancar v. Sara Plasma, Inc., 964 F.2d 465, 468 (5th Cir. 1992). A § 1915 dismissal may be made any time, before or after service or process and before or after an answer is filed, if the court determines that the action “is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and Green v. McKaskle, 788 F.2d 1116, 1999 (5th Cir. 1986).

         The plaintiff alleges the following in his Complaint: During a disciplinary hearing, false documents were filed into the record, the tape recording of the proceeding was turned off, and the plaintiff was not allowed to call any witnesses.

         First, Section 1983 only imposes liability on a “person” who violates another's constitutional rights under color of law. The plaintiff has not named any person as a defendant in this matter.

         Regardless, a claim regarding the issuance of a false disciplinary report, without more, fails to state a claim of federal constitutional dimension cognizable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, the law is clear that the mere issuance of one or more false disciplinary reports and the imposition of resulting punishment does not alone amount to a constitutional violation. See Grant v. Thomas, 37 F.3d 632 (5th Cir. 1994), citing Collins v. King, 743 F.2d 248, 253-54 (5th Cir. 1984) (“[T]here is no due process violation if a prisoner, who is falsely accused of charges, is given an adequate state procedural remedy to challenge the accusations”). Further, the failure of prison officials to follow prison rules or regulations does not amount to a violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Jackson v. Cain, 864 F.3d 1235, 1252 (5th Cir. 1989).

         Additionally, an inmate does not have a constitutional right to have his prison disciplinary or administrative proceedings properly investigated, handled, or favorably resolved, Mahogany v. Miller, 252 F.App'x. 593, 595 (5th Cir. 2007), and there is no procedural due process right inherent in such a claim. As stated by the United States Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit in Geiger v. Jowers, 404 F.3d 371 (5th Cir. 2005) (in the context of the handling of an administrative grievance):

Insofar as [the plaintiff] seeks relief regarding an alleged violation of his due process rights resulting from the prison grievance procedures, the district court did not err in dismissing his claim as frivolous…[The plaintiff] does not have a federally protected liberty interest in having these grievances resolved to his satisfaction. As he relies on legally nonexistent interest, any alleged due process violation arising from the alleged failure to investigate his grievances is indisputably meritless. Id. at 373-74.

         This conclusion is equally applicable in the context of prison disciplinary proceedings. See, e.g., Sanchez v. Grounds, 2014 WL 1049164, *2 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 14, 2014) (finding that an inmate's claim regarding a failure to conduct a “proper investigation” of a disciplinary charge “did not amount to a constitutional deprivation”); and Jackson v. Mizell, 2009 WL 1792774, *7 n.11 (E.D. La. June 23, 2009) (noting that “the ...

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