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Hicks v. Parks

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

September 4, 2019

OZELIA HICKS, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES E. PARKS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Robert E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge.

         Ozelia Hicks, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. This action proceeds on Hicks's PARTICULARIZED COMPLAINT.[1] ("Complaint," ECF No. 22.)[2] Hick's names James E. Parks, Offender Management Services Director for the Virginia Department of Corrections (``VDOC"), as the sole defendant. The matter is before the Court on Defendant Parks's MOTION TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM ("Motion to Dismiss," ECF No. 33), the Court's responsibility to review prisoner actions under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) (2) and 1915A, and Hicks's RULE 12(C) MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS ("Rule 12(c) Motion," ECF No. 36) and MOTION FOR RESPONSE TO GRANT RELIEF (INJUNCTIVE) VINDICATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS[3] ("Motion for Injunctive Relief and Response," ECF No. 39) .[4] For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 33) will be granted, and Hicks's motions (ECF No. 36, 39) will be denied.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (``PLRA") this Court must dismiss any action filed by a prisoner if the Court determines the action (1) "is frivolous" or (2) "fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2); see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The first standard includes claims based upon ``an indisputably meritless legal theory," or claims where the "factual contentions are clearly baseless." Clay v. Yates, 809 F.Supp. 417, 427 (E.D. Va. 1992) (quoting Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989)). The second standard is the familiar standard for a motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

         ``A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b) (6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citing 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1356 (1990)). In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a plaintiff's well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Mylan Labs., Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993); see also Martin, 980 F.2d at 952. This principle applies only to factual allegations, however, and "a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009) .[5]

         While the Court liberally construes pro se complaints, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), it does not act as the inmate's advocate, sua sponte developing statutory and constitutional claims the inmate failed to clearly raise on the face of his complaint. See Brock v. Carroll, 107 F.3d 241, 243 (4th Cir. 1997) (Luttig, J., concurring); Beaudett v. City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (4th Cir. 1985).

         II. SUMMARY OF PERTINENT ALLEGATIONS

         In his Complaint, Hicks contends that the "civil rights violations" at issue in this action arise from ``a formal letter dated August 31, 2016," which was written by Defendant Parks. (Compl. 2.) In the August 31, 2016 letter, Defendant Parks stated:

This letter is in response to your correspondence concerning work release. The portion of Operating Procedure 830.5, Transfers, Facility Reassignments, which you included with your correspondence explained what you were requesting.
With DOC work release your counselor must begin the application process. You are eligible for work release when you are within 8 to 14 months of your release date. As your release date is not until January 2020, you are presently ineligible for work release.
Offenders who meet all eligibility criteria may request assignment to work release at the time of their annual review, or may be administratively reviewed at the discretion of the facility based upon pending date of release, provided the offender meets all other criteria.
Your counselor can advise and explain to you all of the required criteria.
A Sheriff/Jail requested work release is primarily for inmates housed at the jail waiting to come into DOC. The Sheriff/Jail Administrator will request that the DOC inmate remain there to serve his DOC sentence in the jail's work release program. Those inmates must be within two years of their release dates.
To return to the jail for work release, you will need to wait until you are eligible and request it through your counselor.
I trust this information has been beneficial to you.

(ECF No. 22-1, at 4-5.)[6]

         Hicks alleges that Defendant Parks ``[made] false statements in [the] letter to Hicks [dated] August 31, 2016, regarding reentry and work release [at] 24 months by Sheriff Request Administration." (Compl. 2-3.) Hicks also alleges that Defendant Parks "intentionally rewr[ote] the O.P. 830.5 to hinder the substantial benefit from educational reentry back into society with work release to rebuild a future necessary to meet financial obligations awaiting an offender['s] release, i.e., child support, court fines, and restitutions." (Id. at 2.) Further, Hicks alleges that the August 31, 2016 letter was ``[a] deliberate attempt to hold an offender, specifically Hicks, in bondage longer to increase recidivism and his job security," resulting in ``[a] constitutional violation of equal protection under the law. Amend[ment] Fourteen." (Id.)

         In addition to Hicks's allegations, Hicks attached, inter alia, a copy of VDOC Operating Procedure 830.5, with an effective date of November 1, 2014, to his Complaint. VDOC Operating Procedure 830.5 provides, in pertinent part:

1. Offenders who meet all eligibility criteria may request assignment to work release at the time of their annual review, or may be administratively reviewed at the discretion of the facility based upon pending date of release, provided the offender meets all other criteria. . . .
4. Eligibility Criteria - Offenders must meet each of the following criteria to be reviewed for work ...

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