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Aguilar v. Gaston-Camara

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 28, 2017

Daniel Aguilar, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Janella Gaston-Camara, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued April 10, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 2:14-cv-01273-NJ - Nancy Joseph, Magistrate Judge.

          Before EASTERBROOK, ROVNER, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

          ROVNER, Circuit Judge.

         The plaintiff, Daniel Aguilar, an inmate under the supervision of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections ("DOC"), filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that beginning in October 2012 he was confined for 90 days without a hearing based on a purported violation of extended supervision. He argued that as a person who was released from prison on parole status rather than extended supervision status, his confinement under the extended supervision provisions denied him the procedures that are afforded to parolees, in violation of the Due Process Clause, and violated his rights under the Eighth Amendment.

         For offenses committed prior to December 31, 1999, offenders in Wisconsin are released from prison to "parole, " whereas for offenses committed after January 1, 2000, the offenders are released to "extended supervision." Although the supervision for each status is essentially the same, there are nevertheless some legal differences between parole and extended supervision that dictate the punishments available for a given rule violation. Aguilar was convicted in 1996 and on February 23, 2010, he was released from prison on parole. Accordingly, after his release from imprisonment, Aguilar was subject to the parole provisions rather than the extended supervision restrictions. When Aguilar failed to report to his agent in violation of the rules of community supervision, his parole agent, Janella Gaston-Camara, completed a Violation Investigation Report in which she properly checked the box indicating he was on "Parole, " and that form was signed by her supervisor Mya Haessig as well. On September 27, 2012, Aguilar was arrested by chance when the Racine Police Department SWAT team executed a search warrant on a bar allegedly being used for drug sales, and the officers found Aguilar in a room adjacent to the bar. On that day, Gaston-Camara completed an Order to Detain form in which she erroneously checked the box indicating that Aguilar was on "Extended Supervision, " rather than the "Parole" designator. Aguilar subsequently met with Gaston-Camara and admitted to violating rules including absconding, moving without notifying his agent, and consuming alcohol. When a person is under extended supervision, the agent, with a supervisor's approval, may order the offender confined for up to 90 days without a hearing if the offender signs a statement admitting to violating a rule of supervision. Initially, Gaston-Camara met with the supervisor, Mya Haessig, and agreed that a disposition short of confinement was the appropriate sanction, such as electronic monitoring or the imposition of additional conditions of supervision. Once they received information from the Racine Police Department that Aguilar was being charged with possession of THC and obstructing an officer, however, they convened again and concluded that confinement for 90 days was appropriate. They completed another form which included that recommendation, again erroneously identifying Aguilar as under extended supervision, and forwarded that recommendation to Lisa Yeates, the Regional Chief, who approved the sanction. Aguilar signed a statement admitting that he violated the rules of his supervision, and therefore the confinement was ordered without a hearing, based on the erroneous assumption that he was under extended supervision. Because he was not on extended supervision, however, he was not subject to that 90-day option, (although the law has since changed to allow imposition of a 90-day sentence on parolees for admitted rules violations, see Wise. Stat. § 304.06(3g)). That did not necessarily work to his actual disadvantage. As a parolee, he would have been subject to formal revocation procedures; Gaston-Camara and Haessig confirmed that they would likely have sought revocation of parole based on those charges, with a likely revocation sentence of two years, rather than the extended supervision sanction which resulted in his automatic confinement for 90 days. But such speculation as to which status would have been more advantageous is irrelevant to the claim before us.

         On December 3, 2012, Aguilar's attorney, David Saldana, contacted Gaston-Camara and inquired as to why Aguilar's sanction began on October 17, 2012. One week later Saldana contacted Donna Harris, the assistant regional chief for Region 7, and asked her about the start date for the extended release sanction for Aguilar. In response, Harris emailed to Saldana language from the policy providing that an extended supervision sanction starts when the regional chief signs the sanction or within 10 days of apprehension, whichever is first. Subsequently, on December 21, 2012, Saldana contacted Yeates' regional office and requested that she amend the start date of his extended supervision sanction to start on October 7, 2012. Yeates ordered the amendment of the start date as requested.

         Aguilar contends that in those conversations with Gaston-Camara, Harris, and Yeates, Saldana also questioned whether Aguilar was properly classified as under extended supervision. None of those defendants recall any such topic of discussion in those conversations. Gaston-Camara's written notes of her phone conversation with Saldana relate only that he asked about the starting date used to calculate Aguilar's sanction. The email to Saldana from Harris in response to their phone conversation relayed only portions of the DOC procedure for calculating the sanction dates. And Yeates' actions following the communication with Saldana addressed only the dates of the sanction. Finally, because Aguilar was assigned to Region 2, not Region 7, Harris stated that as assistant regional chief in Region 7 she was not involved in overseeing Aguilar's supervision, and Aguilar has provided no evidence to the contrary.

         To support his contention that Saldana apprised them of the classification error, Aguilar provided his own declaration to the district court. In it, he attested that Saldana visited him in jail and asked him why he was given an extended supervision sanction when he was a parolee, and promised to seek his release. Aguilar further stated that, subsequently, Saldana informed Aguilar that he had made several attempts over the past couple of weeks to contact some of the defendants but was unable to do so because they were not in the office, did not return his call, or were on vacation. According to Aguilar, Saldana said that he had informed Harris that Aguilar was unlawfully detained because the sanction was proper only for a person on extended supervision whereas Aguilar was on parole. According to Aguilar, Saldana then reported that Harris responded that Aguilar would not be released and that he was lucky his parole was not revoked. The district court refused to consider those declarations, as they were hearsay and Aguilar provided no statement or affidavit from Saldana.

         Months after his release from the confinement on those violations, Aguilar was arrested on various charges. After a parole revocation hearing, the Division of Hearings and Appeals determined that Aguilar violated the conditions of his parole status and he was returned to Dodge Correctional Institution to serve his sentence. He received jail credit that included the time he had spent in jail in connection with the extended supervision sanction. The crediting of all of that time raises a question as to whether he suffered any actual injury as a result of the extended supervision sanction, but as neither the parties nor the district court addressed the issue of the impact of that crediting and the claims fail on other grounds, we will limit our discussion to those other grounds.

         Aguilar asserts that the failure to properly classify him as on parole status rather than extended supervision, which resulted in his confinement without a hearing, violated his rights under the Due Process Clause and the Eighth Amendment. As the district court properly recognized, § 1983 does not establish a system of vicarious liability; a public employee's liability is premised on her own knowledge and actions, and therefore requires evidence that each defendant, through her own actions, violated the Constitution. Burks v. Raemisch, 555 F.3d 592, 594 (7th Cir. 2009); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676 (2009). Three of the defendants in this appeal held positions in the DOC's Division of Community Corrections Region 2: Gaston-Camara, Aguilar's probation and parole agent; Haessig, the unit supervisor; and Yeates, the regional chief. The other defendant, Donna Harris, was the DCC assistant regional chief for Region 7. The district court granted the motion for summary judgment as to all his claims against each defendant, and Aguilar appeals to this court the summary judgment determination.

         We review the grant of summary judgment de novo, considering all facts and reasonable inferences in favor of Aguilar as the non-moving party. Figgs v. Dawson, 829 F.3d 895, 902 (7th Cir. 2016). We will affirm the grant of summary judgment only if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. Although we view the evidence in the light most favorable to Aguilar, he nevertheless must present specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial; "[i]nferences that rely upon speculation or conjecture are insufficient." Armato v. Grounds, 766 F.3d 713, 719 (7th Cir. 2014).

         To succeed on his Eighth Amendment claim, Aguilar must provide evidence that he was subjected to punishment (here, additional incarceration) without penological justification and that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference. Id. at 721; Campbell v. Peters, 256 F.3d 695, 700 (7th Cir. 2001). The actions that Aguilar challenges in this case are the designation of him as on extended supervision status and the refusal to correct the error. Aguilar acknowledges that the "central question" in this appeal is whether he has raised a genuine issue of material fact that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to the evidence that Aguilar was misclassified as an extended supervision offender when he was in fact on parole and thus entitled to the procedural protections commensurate with that status. The district court properly concluded that Aguilar failed to establish any such issue of fact.

         "To be considered on summary judgment, evidence must be admissible at trial, though 'the form produced at summary judgment need not be admissible.'" Cairel v. Alder den,821 F.3d 823, 830 (7th Cir. 2016)(quoting Wragg v. Village of Thornton,604 F.3d 464, 466 (7th Cir. 2010)). The only admissible evidence of deliberate indifference presented to the district court by Aguilar is that the forms ordering his detention and ordering the sanction, although identifying his as on extended supervision, also indicate his date of conviction which-if noticed-should have alerted them that Aguilar was a parole offender. As to the conflict between the date of conviction and the box checked on the form that indicated he was an extended supervision offender, Aguilar presented no evidence that anyone noticed that discrepancy. In fact, Gaston-Camara and Haessig both submitted statements that they were unaware that he was on parole status and only became aware of the discrepancy when he filed the lawsuit. We are left with nothing more than mere speculation that any of the defendants might have noticed the disconnect between the date of his offense and the ...

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