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Hollins v. Holman

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division

January 4, 2018

YUSEF HOLLINS #1864680
v.
CHRISTOPHER HOLMAN, ET AL.

          MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE AND ENTERING FINAL JUDGMENT

          RON CLARK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The Plaintiff Yusef Hollins, an inmate of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 complaining of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. This Court referred the case to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) and (3) and the Amended Order for the Adoption of Local Rules for the Assignment of Duties to United States Magistrate Judges. The named Defendant in the original complaint was Captain Christopher Holman; in an amended complaint, Hollins added Captain Michael Stephenson, explaining that he did not know which of these persons was the disciplinary hearing officer whom he wished to sue.

         I. Background

         After review of the original complaint, the Magistrate Judge ordered Hollins to file an amended complaint setting out a short and plain statement of his claim, including: a concise statement of the claims he wished to raise, the individual or individuals whom he wished to sue, a statement showing how these individuals were involved with the facts forming the basis of the claim, the harm suffered as a result of the facts forming the basis of the lawsuit, and the specific relief sought. In response to this order, Hollins filed an amended complaint reading, in its entirety, as follows:

1) At and during the disciplinary hearing, on Michael Unit, case no. 20160313199, Defendant Captain C. Holman or Captain M. Stephenson did violate Plaintiff right to due process and constituted a deprivation of liberty under the United States Constitution.
2) Defendant is liable for his intentional reckless behavior and the fact the defendant was deceit [sic] and bias [sic] toward the Plaintiff despite admissible evidence and intent to suppress extant exculpatory evidence, thus indicating the decision-maker being partial.
3) Upon exhaustion of administrative remedies, on October 11, 2016 (the Step 2) preponderance of evidence demonstrate a malicious prosecution and that the disciplinary hearing conviction and sentence was reversed on Plaintiff behalf (favor) and the fact that grievance no. 2016168886 proves it has previously been invalidated.

         In a Step Two grievance attached to the original complaint, Hollins argued that the female officer who charged him with masturbating was over 50 feet away and that he was simply in the shower cleaning himself. The response to this grievance stated that the disciplinary case would be overturned and that Hollins' records would be corrected, but that the option to rehear the case would be left to the warden's discretion.

         Hollins also filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that “it has been clearly established that the defendant was not a fair and impartial decision-maker in the hearing and falsified a written and verbal statement of reasons of the guilty verdict.” He noted that the conviction had been overturned and contended that he is entitled to at least nominal damages if he has been subjected to a due process violation.

         II. The Report of the Magistrate Judge

         After review of the pleadings, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that the lawsuit be dismissed. The Magistrate Judge explained that while the pleading standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2) do not require detailed factual allegations, pleadings must nonetheless provide more than labels and conclusions, a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, or naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement. A complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted where it does not contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief which is plausible on its face; legal conclusions couched as factual allegations need not be accepted as true.

         Based upon these standards, the Magistrate Judge concluded that Hollins' complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Hollins alleged that he was the subject of disciplinary action which was later overturned, but there is no due process violation if a prisoner is falsely accused of disciplinary charges where the prisoner has an adequate state procedural remedy to challenge the accusations. The mere fact that Hollins was convicted on disciplinary charges which were later overturned does not itself show a due process violation.

         The Magistrate Judge determined that the bare allegations of denial of due process and “deceit and bias” amounted to no more than naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement. Although Hollins was afforded an opportunity to amend his complaint, he failed to offer sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief which was plausible on its face. Thus, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the lawsuit be dismissed without prejudice. See Bazrowx v. Scott, 136 F.3d 1053, 1043 (5th Cir. 1998).

         III. ...


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