United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Eugene Sibley, Pro Se Plaintiff.
P. Jones, United States District Judge
plaintiff, Jason Eugene Sibley, a state prisoner proceeding
pro se, filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Sibley asserts that he was found guilty of and
penalized for a prison disciplinary infraction without due
process. Taking his allegations as true, I conclude that this
action must be summarily dismissed for failure to state a
claim on which relief can be granted.
is confined at Red Onion State Prison (“Red
Onion”). Counselor Adams wrote an offense code 137A
disciplinary charge against Sibley, stating that “while
doing rounds in A2 pod on November 6, 2018 at approximately
11:45 a.m., I observed offender J. Sibley masturbating in my
direction.” Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. On November 14, 2018,
Officer Mullins conducted a disciplinary hearing on the
charge. Adams asked that her written statement stand as her
testimony, and Mullins granted that request. According to
Sibley, “There was no evidence shown in the hearing
that say I am guilty of the 137A offense.” Id.
Based on Adams' written statement, Mullins found Sibley
guilty of the offense. Sibley appealed Mullins' finding,
explaining that no evidence was offered at the hearing.
Nevertheless, Warden Kiser did not “correct the
filed a regular grievance complaining that he had been
deprived of due process during the disciplinary proceedings.
J. Messer rejected the regular grievance as
“[n]on-grievable, ” indicating that the
“issue has been defined as non-grievable in accordance
with Operating Procedure [“O.P.”] 866.1.”
V.S. 2, ECF No. 3. Messer also indicated that disciplinary
“hearing decisions, penalties, and/or procedural
errors” can be appealed in accordance with O.P. 861.1,
Offender Discipline. Id. Sibley appealed the intake
rejection to the Regional Ombudsman, who upheld Messer's
Complaint, Sibley alleges that defendants Mullins, Kiser,
Messer, and the ombudsman deprived him of due process by
finding him guilty of a disciplinary offense without evidence
or by failing to correct that due process error when notified
in disciplinary appeals or grievances. As relief, Sibley
seeks injunctive and declaratory relief and punitive and
court may summarily dismiss “any action brought with
respect to prison conditions . . . by a prisoner confined in
any jail, prison, or other correctional facility if the court
is satisfied that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). Section 1983 permits an aggrieved
party to file a civil action against a person for actions
taken under color of state law that violated his
constitutional rights. Cooper v. Sheehan, 735 F.3d
153, 158 (4th Cir. 2013).
retain rights under the Due Process Clause, but because
prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal
prosecution, the full array of rights due a defendant in such
proceedings does not apply. Wolff v. McDonnell, 418
U.S. 539, 556 (1974) (citing Morrissey v. Brewer,
408 U.S. 471, 488 (1972)). In prison disciplinary proceedings
where an inmate faces the possible loss of a constitutionally
protected liberty interest, he is entitled to limited due
process protections. These include: (1) advance written
notice of the charges against him; (2) a written statement of
the evidence relied on and the reasons for taking any
disciplinary action; (3) a hearing where he is afforded the
right to call witnesses and present evidence when doing so is
not inconsistent with institutional safety and correctional
concerns; (4) the opportunity to have non-attorney
representation when the inmate is illiterate or the
disciplinary hearing involves complex issues; and (5) a
neutral decision-maker. Wolff, 418 U.S. at 564-71.
There is no constitutional right to confront and
cross-examine witnesses in person during a prison
disciplinary proceeding. Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425
U.S. 308, 322 (1976); Brown v. Braxton, 373 F.3d
501, 505-06 (4th Cir. 2004).
conclude that Sibley has not stated any viable due process
claim under § 1983 related to the challenged
disciplinary proceedings. His allegations do not suggest that
the defendants failed to afford him notice of the charge, a
hearing, an opportunity to present evidence in his defense,
and a written report of the evidence relied upon in finding
him guilty of the offense, namely, Adams' written
statement. Sibley apparently believes that the hearing was
procedurally deficient because Adams, as the reporting
officer, did not personally testify or submit to
cross-examination during the proceeding. Because Sibley has
no constitutional right to confront or cross-examine his
accuser in a prison disciplinary proceeding, however, this
procedural due process claim lacks merit.
substantive due process is satisfied if the disciplinary
hearing decision was based upon “some evidence.”
Superintendent, Mass. Corr. Inst. v. Hill, 472 U.S.
445, 455 (1985). The hearing officer based his finding of
guilt on the reporting officer's written statement. Thus,
the finding of guilt was supported by some evidence in the
record, as required under Hill. Accordingly, the
hearing officer's finding was not wholly arbitrary and
capricious, and I have no authority to disturb it.
Id. at 456.
stated reasons, I am satisfied that Sibley's Complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Therefore, on that ground, I will
summarily dismiss this action without prejudice. Dismissal
without prejudice leaves Sibley free to refile his claim in a
new and separate lawsuit if he can correct the deficiencies
described in this Opinion.
separate Final Order will be entered herewith.