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Pierce v. Stephens

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

June 26, 2018

WILLIAM BOYD PIERCE
v.
WILLIAM STEPHENS, 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 William Pierce, 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 Defendants are former TDCJ-CID Director William Stephens, Region II Director Kelvin Scott, Warden Edgar Baker, Warden Larry Berger, Michael Unit Classification Director Mark Sandlin, Practice Manager Pam Pace, present TDCJ-CID Director Lorie Davis, Executive Director Bryan Collier, Warden Carol Monroe, and Warden Deborah Cockrell. Of these Defendants, Stephens, Scott, Baker, Berger, Pace, and Sandlin were named in Pierce's original complaint, while Collier, Monroe, and Cockrell were added in the amended complaint.

         I. Background

         In his original complaint, Pierce complained of being housed in 8 Building and in 12 Building at various times. He asserted that these are high-security buildings and thus inappropriate places in which to house minimum-custody prisoners such as himself. Pierce also complained of the conditions of confinement on 12 Building, stating that he could not go to the law library, he was handcuffed whenever he left his cell, he could not go to outside recreation, and he could not watch TV. He also contended that the windows could not be opened and it was difficult for him to breathe because he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

         In his amended complaint, Pierce complained of an incident which occurred on July 27, 2017, in which he was assaulted by a cellmate who was 34 years old (42 years younger than Pierce). He contended that TDCJ-CID rules prohibit housing prisoners with an age difference of more than 15 years.

         Prior to the filing of Pierce's amended complaint, the Magistrate Judge ordered the prison officials to file a Martinez Report providing documents relevant to his claims. Pierce received a copy of the Martinez Report and was given the opportunity to file a response, which he did.

         The Defendant Pam Pace filed a motion to dismiss, and the other Defendants filed a separate motion to dismiss. Pierce did not file responses to either of these motions.

         II. The Report of the Magistrate Judge

         A. Exhaustion

         After review of the pleadings and records, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report recommending that the lawsuit be dismissed. The Magistrate Judge observed that Pierce's pleadings showed and the Martinez Report confirmed that Pierce had pursued two grievances through both steps of the TDCJ administrative remedy procedure. Neither of these grievances raised any complaints against Pace, the medical department, or his medical treatment in general. The Magistrate Judge therefore concluded that Pierce had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies against Pace and her motion to dismiss should be granted on this basis.

         Of the two grievances which the uncontroverted evidence showed were pursued through both steps of the administrative remedy procedure, the Magistrate Judge stated that grievance no. 2015118836 did not exhaust any of the claims raised in this lawsuit because the Step One grievance concerned Pierce's placement on 12 Building, while the Step Two grievance concerned 8 Building. The Magistrate Judge stated that in order for prisoners of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice -Correctional Institutions Division to exhaust an issue properly, that issue must be presented in a Step One grievance and then appealed to Step Two. New issues cannot be raised for the first time in a Step Two grievance appeal and only one issue per grievance may be presented. Randle v. Woods, 299 Fed.Appx. 466, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 24138, 2008 WL 4933754 (5th Cir., November 19, 2008), citing Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 92-93, 126 S.Ct. 2378, 165 L.Ed.2d 368 (2006) and Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503, 515 (5th Cir. 2004); see also TDCJ Offender Orientation Handbook, p. 74 (inmates may present only one issue per grievance).

         The other grievance which Pierce pursued through both steps of the TDCJ-CID grievance procedure was no. 2015113176, which complained of his placement on 12 Building. This grievance properly raised two issues at both steps, these being the claims that Pierce was improperly placed on 12 Building and that he cannot open the windows to get fresh air. The Magistrate Judge thus determined that these two issues were properly exhausted.

         B. The Exhausted Claims

         Pierce argued that he was improperly placed on 12 Building because that is an administrative segregation area and he is in minimum custody. The Magistrate Judge stated that there was no federal constitutional right to be housed in any particular part of a prison. Furthermore, Pierce's pleadings showed and the Martinez Report confirmed that Pierce was only held on 12 Building for short periods of time, including from November 5, 2014 to December 3, 2014 and from March 18, 2015 to April 2, 2015. The Magistrate Judge stated that these brief ...


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