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Jackson v. McLaughlin

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

January 25, 2018

Warden GREGORY MCLAUGHLIN, et al., Defendants.

         Proceedings Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

         Before the U.S. Magistrate Judge


          Charles H. Weigle United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Valentino Jackson filed a pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 21, 2015, alleging that Defendant Demundo wrongly identified or “validated” Plaintiff as a member of the Goodfellas (“GFs”) gang and placed Plaintiff in Tier II of administrative segregation during Plaintiff's time at Macon State Prison (“MSP”). Doc. 1, p. 8; Doc. 8, p. 4. Defendant Demundo previously filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 13) alleging that Plaintiff did not have a liberty interest in being placed in Tier II segregation. Doc. 13, pp. 3-10. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss was denied (Doc. 18; Doc. 21), [1] and Defendant Demundo now files a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 28) contending that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to a causal connection between Defendant's actions and any protected activity.

         Plaintiff has filed his own Motion for Summary Judgment. Doc. 31. In his motion, Plaintiff states that “the Court should deny defendant['s] motion for summary judgment and Grant Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.” Doc. 31-1, p. 6. It is clear that Plaintiff intended for his Motion for Summary Judgment to be both a dispositive motion and a response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Accordingly, the Court construes Plaintiff's motion as a Motion for Summary Judgment and as a response to Defendant's motion.

         Because the evidence is insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to any causal connection between Defendant Demundo's actions and Plaintiff's alleged deprivation, it is RECOMMENDED that Defendant's Motion (Doc. 28) be GRANTED and that Plaintiff's Motion (Doc. 31) be DENIED.

         Additionally, Plaintiff has filed two Motions to Appoint Counsel. Docs. 26, 30. No. right to counsel exists in civil rights actions. Whal v McIver, 773 F.2d 1169, 1174 (11th Cir. 1986); Hardwick v. Ault, 517 F.2d 295, 298 (5th Cir. 1975). Appointment of counsel is a privilege that is justified only by exceptional circumstances. Lopez v. Reyes, 692 F.2d 15, 17 (5th Cir. 1982). In deciding whether legal counsel should be provided, the Court considers, among other factors, the merits of Plaintiff's claim and the complexity of the issues presented. Holt v. Ford, 862 F.2d 850, 853 (11th Cir. 1989).

         Plaintiff has demonstrated the ability to prosecute his case. He has set forth the essential factual allegations and applicable legal doctrines. Plaintiff has succeeded in defending a Motion to Dismiss and the complexity of the case has not changed. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motions to Appoint Counsel (Docs. 26, 30) are DENIED. Plaintiff is instructed to not file additional requests for counsel as the Court, on its own motion, will consider assisting him in securing legal counsel if it becomes required to avoid prejudice to Plaintiff's rights.


         In support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant relies on his statement of facts which includes Defendants' Declaration (Doc. 28-4 “Def. Decl.”) and Plaintiff's Deposition (Doc. 28-3 “Pls. Depo.”). Plaintiff has not filed a statement of facts, but relies on the allegations in his pleadings. The statement of facts below is based primarily on Plaintiff's testimony, along with other undisputed evidence, construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

         Plaintiff testified that he entered the Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”) in April of 2010 at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison. Pls. Depo. at 13-14. Plaintiff was later transferred to Hays State Prison, where he was initially placed in general population. Pls. Depo. at 14-15. In November of 2011, Plaintiff was transferred from general population to segregation because Plaintiff had been labeled, or “validated, ” as a member of the Goodfellas gang. Id. at 15. Plaintiff stayed in segregation until May of 2012, when he was transferred to Valdosta State Prison. Id. at 17. Once at Valdosta State Prison, Plaintiff was allowed to live in general population for a short period of time, but was moved back to segregation in August of 2012. Id. at 14, 18. Plaintiff was informed that he was moved back to segregation because he was GF gang member, which caused Plaintiff to be a security threat. Id. at 18.

         In April of 2013, Plaintiff was transferred to MSP. Id. at 14. Once Plaintiff arrived at MSP, Plaintiff was placed in segregation. Id. at 20. Plaintiff remained in segregation until October of 2013 when Plaintiff was moved from segregation to the Tier II program. Id. The CERT officers that moved Plaintiff to Tier II informed Plaintiff that he was being moved because he was a GF gang member and a security threat. Id. at 21-22. Since Plaintiff has been in Tier II, Plaintiff has consistently received 90-day reviews of his status in Tier II. Id. at 21-22.

         Defendant Demundo is the Security Threat Group (“STG”) coordinator at MSP and is involved in the validation of whether an inmate belongs to a STG. Def. Decl. ¶¶ 4, 5. Plaintiff had been previously validated as a GF before he arrived at MSP, and Defendant testified that he had no involvement in Plaintiff's validation. Id. at ¶7. Plaintiff testified that Defendant was never present during any of his 90-day review hearings. Id. at ¶ 8; Pls. Depo. at 22-23. Plaintiff further testified that he had “never seen [Defendant]” and that Plaintiff had never had any interactions with Defendant. Pls. Depo. at 23.

         SUMMARY ...

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