United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
DOLLY Y. PARKS, Plaintiff,
HAROLD CLARKE, et al., Defendants.
Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge
Y. Parks, a Virginia inmate proceeding with counsel,
commenced this action pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. The remaining defendants are current and former
officials of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.
Plaintiff complains that a disciplinary penalty was imposed
in violation of due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth
Amendment. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment,
and Plaintiff responded, making the matter ripe for
disposition. After reviewing the record, the court grants
Defendants' motion for summary judgment because Plaintiff
fails to establish the violation of a constitutional right.
19, 2015, Plaintiff received an institutional charge for code
201, "Disobeying an Order." Correctional Officer
("C/O") Foster reported that she saw napkins on top
of the light fixture inside Plaintiffs cell and "have
asked both [inmates] that reside in this cell to keep any
items from on top of their lights.... [because] [i]]t is a
next day, Plaintiff received a copy of the charge and chose
the procedures and discovery she wanted. Plaintiff refused a
penalty offer, declined a staff advisor, and waived a
twenty-four hour preparation time. However, she wanted to be
present during the hearing, to have one inmate and one staff
testify on her behalf, and to submit nine cross-examination
questions to C/O Foster. Plaintiff proffered that her cellmate
would testify that C/O Foster had "never opened the cell
204 the night she was the flood officer in D-wing."
Plaintiff proffered that the staff would testify about the
same and that C/O Foster never spoke to Plaintiff "while
doing ... rounds in D-wing." In response to the
questions, C/O Foster explained in pertinent part that she
first instructed the cell occupants to remove the napkins
during count on June 18 and that she believed she was in the
control room "on June 18 when Ramadan was called
out." C/O Foster also explained that she and other
officers are supposed to look in a cell during count to
address "anything ... out of place."
Marie Jones was assigned as the Institutional Hearing Officer
("IHO") and conducted the disciplinary hearing on
June 25. Jones denied the two witness requests and excluded
five of the nine written questions as irrelevant. Jones
considered Plaintiffs testimony and reviewed C/O Foster's
answers to the written questions before deeming Plaintiff
guilty and recommending a $12.00 fine.
Sylvia Wilson, a Unit Manager, approved the disposition and
imposed the $ 12.00 fine. j Plaintiffs
administrative appeal of the conviction was unsuccessful.
Plaintiff argued in pertinent part that the confidential
building log book indicated that C/O Foster was in the
control room during count on June 18. On August 24, defendant
Tammy Brown, who was the Warden at the time, upheld the
institutional conviction and fine on appeal. Brown noted,
You claim you have information specific to the charge that
you did not have at the time of the hearing.... [A]ny
information you may have obtained after the completion of the
disciplinary hearing will not be entertained, as the decision
of the Hearings Officer was made based on the evidence
presented at the time of the hearing. Also, the information
you are presenting is not information that offenders have
ready access to and is contradictory to your recorded
lawsuit followed, wherein Plaintiff believes Defendants
failed to ensure the process guaranteed by the Fourteenth
Amendment. First, Plaintiff contends that the log book
establishes that C/O Foster was in the control room and not
around her cell when the offense occurred. Second, Plaintiff
disputes Jones' evidentiary rulings to exclude the
witnesses and five questions as irrelevant. Third, Plaintiff
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the
conviction. Fourth, Plaintiff complains that the conviction
impacted her Earned Sentence Credit ("ESC")
classification calculation more than eight months later
during a routine classification decision. Plaintiff seeks
damages and declaratory and equitable relief.
filed a motion for summary judgment arguing qualified
immunity. A party is entitled to summary judgment if the
pleadings, the disclosed materials on file, and any
affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those
necessary to establish the elements of a party's cause of
action. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute of material fact exists
if, in viewing the record and all reasonable inferences drawn
therefrom in a light most favorable to the non-moving party,
a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the
non-movant. Id. The moving party has the burden of
showing - "that is, pointing out to the district court -
that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving
party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the movant satisfies this
burden, then the non-movant must set forth specific facts
that demonstrate the existence of a genuine dispute of fact
for trial. Id. at 322-24. A party is entitled to
summary judgment if the record as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find in favor of the non-movant.
Williams v. Griffin. 952 F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir.
1991). "Mere unsupported speculation ... is not enough
to defeat a summary judgment motion." Ennis v.
Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio. Inc.. 53
F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995). A plaintiff cannot use a
response to a motion for summary judgment to amend or correct
a complaint challenged by the motion for summary judgment.
Cloaninger v. McDevitt 555 F.3d 324, 336 (4th Cir.
government official sued under § 1983 is entitled to
invoke qualified immunity, which is an immunity from suit and
pretrial burdens like discovery. Cooper v. Sheehan,
735 F.3d 153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013) (citing Mitchell v.
Forsyth. 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)). "The doctrine
of qualified immunity 'balances two important
interests-the need to hold public officials accountable when
they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield
officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when
they perform their duties reasonably.'" Smith v.
Ray. 781 F.3d 95, 100 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Pearson v. Callahan. 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009)).
"qualified immunity analysis typically involves two
inquiries: (1) whether the plaintiff has established the
violation of a constitutional right, and (2) whether that
right was clearly established at the time of the alleged
violation." Raub v. Campbell, 785 F.3d 876, 881
(4th Cir. 2015). A "court may address these two
questions in the order ... that will best facilitate the fair
and efficient disposition of each case." Estate of
Armstrong v. Vill. of Pinehurst. 810 F.3d 892, 898 (4th
Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). A ...