United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MERIT REVIEW OPINION
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
filed this case pro se from East Moline Correctional Center.
Plaintiff's amended complaint is before the Court for a
merit review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915A. This statute requires the Court to review
a complaint filed by a prisoner to identify the cognizable
claims and to dismiss part or all of the complaint if no
claim is stated.
reviewing the Complaint, the Court accepts the factual
allegations as true, liberally construing them in
Plaintiff's favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d
645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory
statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be
provided to "'state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S.,
721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite
alleges that he was written a false disciplinary report for
insolence and disobeying a direct order on November 16, 2016.
The disciplinary committee allegedly found him guilty,
refusing to consider Plaintiff's contention that a video
recording of the incident exonerated him. Plaintiff is
allegedly still waiting to receive a copy of the disciplinary
also appears to challenge seven other disciplinary decisions
which he attaches to his amended complaint, on what grounds
is not clear. Plaintiff appears to assert that no
investigation was done and that the Warden does not sign her
name to the decision because the signatures look different.
Plaintiff alleges that because he has received three
disciplinary tickets, he has lost his “school good time
contract” and the ability to take “ABE
PRE-GED” classes, which the Court assumes are classes
that will help Plaintiff prepare to obtain a General
constitutional protection against false disciplinary reports
is procedural due process-advance notice of the charge, a
meaningful opportunity to defend the charge, a statement of
reasons for the disciplinary committee's findings, and
some evidence to support those findings. Piggie v.
Cotton, 344 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir.2003).
these procedural due process protections are not required if
the punishment Plaintiff received was insignificant from a
constitutional perspective. Thielman v. Leean, 282
F.3d 478, 484 (7th Cir. 2002)(citing Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 487 (1995); see also Leslie v.
Doyle, 125 F.3d 1132, 1136 (7th Cir. 1998)("Broadly
speaking, the Constitution does not create a cause of action
for arbitrary and purposeless acts by officials per se, . .
.; it prohibits the abuse of power that effects a significant
deprivation.")(emphasis in original) (citations
omitted)). For example, a demotion in grade or short term,
typical segregation is generally not a significant enough
punishment to trigger procedural due process protections.
Marion v. Columbia Correctional Inst., 559 F.3d 693,
697-98 (7th Cir. 2009); Hoskins v.
Lenear, 395 F.3d 372, 374-75 (7th Cir. 2005).
The revocation of good time is a serious enough deprivation,
but that legal challenge can be made in federal court only
through a habeas action, after exhausting state court
remedies. Edwards v. Balisok, 520 U.S. 641, 648
does not say what punishment he received on the November 16,
2016 ticket, so the Court cannot determine whether he states
a procedural due process claim that may proceed on that
ticket. Additionally, Plaintiff appears to admit in his
original complaint that he did not exhaust his administrative
remedies before filing this lawsuit. Plaintiff must exhaust
his administrative remedies before filing this lawsuit, not
after filing the lawsuit. Ford v. Johnson, 362 F.3d
395, 398 (7th Cir. 2004). Exhaustion means timing filing a
grievance and pursuing all available appeals in a timely
manner, including appealing to the Administrative Review
Board. If Plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative
remedies before filing this lawsuit, the lawsuit must be
dismissed upon motion by Defendants.
punishments Plaintiff received from the disciplinary
committee on the other tickets were not serious enough to
trigger procedural due process protections. The most serious
punishments were two separate 30-day stints in segregation,
which is generally too short a term to trigger procedural due
process protections unless the conditions in segregation were
unusually harsh, harsher than typical segregation. See
Means v. Larson, 580 Fed.Appx. 481 (7th
Cir. 2014)(not published in Federal
Reporter)(“[wrongful] segregation term of just over one
month, by itself, did not implicate a liberty
interest.”). The other punishments-7, 14 and 21 days
“unit restriction, ” 14 days commissary
restriction, and 25 days of commissary restriction-are even
less significant punishments than segregation. Additionally,
Plaintiff has no protected constitutional right to attend
classes in prison, so taking away that privilege does not
trigger procedural due process protections. See Garza v.
Miller, 688 F.2d 480, 485 (7th Cir. 1982)(inmate has no
constitutional interest in educational or job opportunities);
Meisberger v. Cotton, 181 Fed.Appx. 599
(7th Cir. 2006)(no procedural due process due for
transfer and resulting lack of educational opportunities and
opportunity to earn good time). The Warden's alleged
failure to investigate does not violate the Constitution.
See Polzin v. Mutter, 2013 WL 485269 (7th Cir.
2013)(unpublished)(There is no constitutional duty to
"search for, or assist a defendant in developing,
mitigating evidence.") Additionally, that the
Warden's signature looks different on different documents
does not suggest that any federal law has been broken.
will be given an opportunity to file an amended complaint if
he believes he can allege facts that state a plausible
federal claim. If Plaintiff does not do so, or his amended
complaint still fails to state a claim, then this case will
be dismissed for failure to state a claim, which will count
as one of Plaintiff's strikes under 28 U.S.C. §
Plaintiff's motion for the appointment of pro bono
counsel is denied (5), with leave to renew after Plaintiff
demonstrates that he has made reasonable efforts to find
counsel on his own. Pruitt v. Mote, 503 F.3d 647,
654-55 (7th Cir. 2007). This typically requires
writing to several lawyers and attaching the responses. If
Plaintiff renews his motion, he should set forth how far he
has gone in school, any jobs he has held inside and outside
of prison, any classes he has taken in prison, and any prior
litigation experience he has.
Plaintiff's motion for leave to file an amended complaint
is granted (7). The Court has conducted the merit review on
the amended complaint, not the original complaint.
Plaintiff's motions regarding summons and subpoenas are
denied as unnecessary and premature (8, 9). If this case
survives merit review, the Court will order service.
Discovery does not ...