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Anbessa v. Riddick

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

December 5, 2016

C.S. RIDDICK, et al., Defendants.


          James R. Spencer Senior U.S. District Judge.

         Tekur Dalga Anbessa, a Virginia inmate, brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983[1] action alleging that Defendants[2] violated his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.[3] By Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on May 2, 2016, the Court dismissed all of Anbessa's claims except Claim Two. Anbessa v. Riddick, No. 3:15CV212, 2016 WL 1755872, at *5 (E.D. Va. May 2, 2016).[4] The action proceeds on Claim Two of Anbessa's Second Amended Complaint ("Complaint, " ECF No. 24-1). Specifically, Anbessa asserts:

Claim Two: Defendants violated Anbessa's due process rights by failing to afford him adequate process in the institutional hearing before taking away his good time credits. Specifically, Defendants:
(a) offered perjured, unsworn testimony against him;
(b) denied him an independent and impartial hearing officer;
(c) failed to allow him to put on a defense and rushing the hearing; and
(d) failed to define or prove the elements of "lewd and obscene" and found him guilty of a lesser-included offense.[5]

         Anbessa seeks declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. (Compl. ¶¶ 38-44.) The matter is now before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 34.) For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED.


         Summary judgment must be rendered "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). It is the responsibility of the party seeking summary judgment to inform the court of the basis for the motion, and to identify the parts of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and, by citing affidavits or "'depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, ' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) and 56(e) (1986)). In reviewing a summary judgment motion, the Court "must draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party." United States v. Carolina Transformer Co., 978 F.2d 832, 835 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). However, a mere '"scintilla of evidence'" will not preclude summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251 (quoting Improvement co. v. Munson, 81 U.S. (14 Wall.) 442, 448 (1872)).

         In support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants have submitted: (1) Defendant Mabrey's affidavit (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 ("Mabrey Aff."), ECF No. 35-1); (2) a copy of Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC") Operating Procedure § 861.1 (id. Encl. A ("Operating Procedure § 861.1")); (3) copies of the paperwork from Anbessa's institutional conviction proceedings (id. Encl. B); (4) an affidavit from R.L. Tuell, a Unit Manager at Sussex I State Prison ("SISP") (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 2 ("Tuell Aff"), ECF No. 35-2); (5) a copy of VDOC Operating Procedure § 830.1 (id. Encl. A ("Operating Procedure § 830.1")); and, (6) copies of the paperwork from Anbessa's institutional classification review in August and September 2014 (id. Ends. B-F). In response, Anbessa has submitted his own declaration ("Anbessa Decl., " ECF No. 44), and his own affidavit ("Anbessa Aff., " ECF No. 46-1). Additionally, Anbessa swore to the contents of his Complaint under penalty of perjury.

         In light of the foregoing submissions, the following facts are established for purposes of the Motion for Summary Judgment.


         Anbessa was transferred to SISP from Wallens Ridge State Prison ("WRSP") on November 25, 2013. (Mabrey Aff. ¶ 4; see also Anbessa Aff. ¶ 1.) At that time, Anbessa was assigned to Class Level 2 for purposes of receiving earned sentence credit ("ESC"). (Tuell Aff. ¶ 7 & n.1.) At Level 2, Anbessa earned three days of ECF for every thirty days served. (Id. ¶ 6.)

         On July 12, 2014, Anbessa "was masturbating off of Ofc Riddick inside [his] cell... while the pod was gone to outside recreation." (Compl. ¶ 10; see also Mabrey Aff. ¶ 6; Anbessa Decl. ¶ 6.) Anbessa admits that he had engaged in such behavior "for 6-7 months prior." (Compl. ¶ 10.) However, on July 12, 2014, with respect to Anbessa, Officer Riddick wrote "an institutional charge of Lewd or Obscene Acts Directed Toward or in the Presence of Another (Offense Code 137A)." (Mabrey Aff. ¶ 6; see also Compl. ΒΆ 10; Anbessa Decl. ...

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