United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge.
Christopher Farrow filed this lawsuit after he was subject to
discipline for threatening a prison counselor. Plaintiff
claims that the counselor falsely charged him with
threatening her in retaliation for his having filed a
complaint against her. Plaintiff further claims that three
more correctional officials violated his due process rights
during the subsequent disciplinary hearing against him.
Defendants have now filed an unopposed motion for summary
judgment, and I will grant defendants' motion on the
basis of their showing that no genuine fact issues remain for
facts set forth below are drawn from defendants'
submissions that are based in the record and that have not
been contradicted by plaintiff. See D. Conn. L. Civ.
R. 56(a)(1). At the time of the events giving rise to this
case, plaintiff was a pretrial detainee at the New Haven
Correctional Center. Defendant Chanessa Bent was the
counselor in plaintiff's housing unit. Bent's duties
included assisting inmates with legal calls, property,
visitation, classification issues, and inmate requests.
afternoon of February 17, 2015, Bent was in her office, which
was connected to the housing unit. Another inmate was in the
office completing a legal call. Bent heard someone knocking
on her door. She opened the door so that the inmate who had
been making the legal call could leave. Plaintiff was
standing outside the door. He asked Bent for an inmate
account statement. Bent denied the request because plaintiff
had not submitted a request for the printout. Plaintiff was
not permitted to be in Bent's office or in that corridor
of the housing unit, absent a request from Bent.
was closing the door, plaintiff began pushing on the door to
keep it open. Bent was able to close the door but could not
lock it because plaintiff was applying pressure to the door.
Bent reopened the door to order plaintiff to leave the area
and return to his cell. Plaintiff was acting aggressively and
shouted, “I go to seg for fucking up bitches like you.
I won't be in jail forever.” Doc. #43-3 at 3.
Interpreting plaintiff's actions and statement as a
physical threat to her safety, Bent called a unit officer who
ordered plaintiff to go into the day room.
issued plaintiff a disciplinary report for threats. Plaintiff
received a copy of the disciplinary report that day. Prior to
this incident, Bent was not aware that plaintiff had filed
any grievances. Bent had also permitted plaintiff to make
additional legal calls beyond the two calls permitted in the
Freddy Martinez was the disciplinary hearing officer assigned
to plaintiff's charge. His practice prior to each hearing
was to review all hearing paperwork provided by the
disciplinary investigator and watch any relevant video
recordings. During any hearing, Martinez would have the
disciplinary investigator read aloud the disciplinary report,
the inmate's statement, any witness statements, and the
disciplinary investigator's report. If the inmate had an
advocate, the advocate would read aloud the advocate's
statement and any witness statements collected by the
advocate. Martinez would then ask the inmate whether he
pleaded guilty or not guilty. If the inmate pleaded not
guilty, the inmate would be permitted to speak on his own
behalf. Martinez would then make a finding based on the
evidence and tell the inmate the finding, the basis for the
finding, and, if the inmate was found guilty, the sanctions
imposed. The inmate would then be told that he had fifteen
days to appeal the decision to the district administrator.
disciplinary hearing was held on February 25, 2015. Plaintiff
declined the services of an advocate. He requested and
received a written statement from an inmate witness. Prior to
the hearing, Martinez reviewed all of the evidence. The
disciplinary investigator read the evidence aloud at the
hearing, and plaintiff presented his defense.
evidence consisted of four written statements and an
investigator's report. Plaintiff's statement
contained his version of events. In his statement, plaintiff
claimed that Bent denied him access to his prisoner account
statement, and he threatened to sue or report her to a
superior. He further stated that Bent called him a snitch,
and he retreated with his hands raised. Plaintiff denied
threatening Bent. A fellow inmate drafted a statement
narrating a similar version of the incident.
evidence also included the disciplinary report submitted by
Bent wherein she described how plaintiff tried to enter her
office and uttered the threatening remark to her. A
correctional officer submitted a statement that he heard
plaintiff become “irate” when Bent refused to
speak with him and went to the corridor adjacent to
Bent's office to retrieve plaintiff and return him to the
day room. Doc. #43-6 at 16. The investigator's report
noted that plaintiff threatened Bent and that the
“verbal statement caused fear in the reporting
employee.” Id. at 11.
found plaintiff guilty and sanctioned him with fifteen days
in punitive segregation, fifteen days confined to quarters,
and sixty days loss of phone privileges. The guilty finding
was based on “staff observation and
documentation.” Id. at 19. Martinez further
noted that “[t]he inmate verbal statement caused fear
in the staff member.” Ibid. Plaintiff received
a copy of the disciplinary process summary report the same
Peter Murphy reviewed plaintiff's disciplinary appeal and
determined that there was no evidence to support his claims.
Defendant Angel Quiros also reviewed the disciplinary appeal
and found that the hearing officer's finding was
reasonable based on the information and evidence ...