United States District Court, D. Connecticut
INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANTTO
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Patrick Lexis is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction (DOC). He has filed a complaint
pro se and in forma pauperis under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against four DOC officials. He principally
alleges that his constitutional rights were violated when he
was wrongfully accused and disciplined for a gang affiliation
on the basis of a letter he wrote. I will allow some of
Lexis's claims to proceed against some of the defendants.
complaint names the following four defendants: Lieutenant
Bellemare, Lieutenant Ebgrle, Correctional Officer Lorenzen,
and Jhon Aldi. Doc. #1 at 1. The following facts are alleged
in the complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes
of this initial ruling.
February 6, 2018, at about 8:00 am, Lexis was preparing for
recreation at Radgowski Correctional Institution when four
correctional officers entered his housing unit. Doc. #1 at 5.
Lorenzen asked if his name was Lexis, and he said yes. He was
then taken to the “AP” room, where Bellemare
instructed him to remove his clothing, bend at the waist, and
spread his buttocks. In five years of incarceration, Lexis
had never been asked to do this. Prior searches had only
involved squatting and coughing. Bellemare repeated the order
two more times before Lexis complied. When he did, a couple
of officers snickered. Id. at 6.
the search, Bellemare took Lexis's state-issued glasses,
causing him to experience migraines and blurred vision.
Id. at 8. Lexis is blind without his glasses. He did
not get his glasses back for two weeks. Id. at 10.
10:00 am, Bellemare returned and told Lexis that he was
receiving a disciplinary report for security risk group
involvement. Id. at 8, 19 (copy of the disciplinary
report). The disciplinary report was written by Lorenzen on
the basis of his review of an outgoing letter written by
Lexis. Lorenzen's report stated that he had
“reviewed an outgoing letter authored by Inmate Lexis,
Patrick #370866 in accordance with Administrative Directive
10.7 and State regulations 18-81-28 to 18-81-51.”
Id. at 19. In the letter, Lexis wrote the following
words: “He kept trying to play me in front of everybody
belittlen' me and a few bros. Plus he was Stack 9. So,
you know bro, I lead heads follow we beat flames out of
interpreted these sentences as a reference to a fight that
Lexis was involved in at a different facility and as evidence
of Lexis “referring to himself as a leader by writing
that when he leads others will follow him.”
Ibid. Lorenzen further noted that “Stack
9” is an “identifier uniquely associated with the
SRG [Security Risk Group] Bloods which means snitch, ”
and concluded that the letter “shows his involvement
and leadership with the SRG Bloods.” Ibid.
“For behaving in this manner uniquely associated with
the SRG Bloods Inmate Lexis is in direct violation of AD 9.5
Security Risk Group Affiliation.” Ibid.
report reflects that it was reviewed and approved by
Bellemare on February 6, 2018. Ibid. A box is
checked on the form for “Administrative
Detention” but does not indicate that Lexis was
Bellemare told Lexis that he was receiving a disciplinary
report, Lexis was transferred to a restrictive housing unit.
He informed the medical staff there that he struggled with
depression. Id. at 8.
following morning, Lorenzen told Lexis that he would be
designated a security risk group member and sent to Phase 1
of the Security Group Risk Program at Northern Correctional
Institution because of the disciplinary report.
Ibid. Lorenzen told him that if he did not admit to
the charge in the report, he would still be sent to Northern
but would also receive sanctions of 90 days loss of phone,
recreation, and commissary. Id. at 8-9 Lexis felt
“forced” and with “Lorenzen coercing me due
to his threats, ” he “ended up grabbing the pen,
” and “Lorenzen became elated when I start[ed]
writing him a statement.” Id. at 9.
February 15, 2018, Lexis attended a disciplinary hearing
before Lieutenant Ebgrle in his capacity as a disciplinary
hearing officer (DHO). Id. at 9, 20. He pleaded
guilty to the disciplinary charge without presenting any
witnesses and refusing an advisor. Ibid. The
disciplinary hearing form reflects the imposition of certain
sanctions that are not readily intelligible. Id. at
February 27, 2018, Lexis was sent to solitary confinement at
the supermax unit at Northern Correctional Institution.
Id. at 9. “I was sent to NCI Supermax without
a hearing called an SRG Review Committee.”
Ibid. Lexis remained in solitary confinement at NCI
for nearly three months from February 27 to May 24, 2018.
Id. at 14.
complaint alleges seven counts, some of which combine
different claims of legal violations. Count One alleges that
defendants Bellemare and Lorenzen violated the Fourth and
Eighth Amendments when Lexis was required to bend and spread
his buttocks as well as when Bellemare took his glasses away
from him. Id. at 10.
Two alleges that Lorenzen violated the Due Process Clause by
opening and censoring his outgoing mail. It further alleges
that Bellemare and Ebgrle were supervisors who “failed
to see this depravity, ” and that Lexis was “put
in segregation without due process.” Id. at
Three alleges that Lorenzen was “completely wrong in
saying that stack 9 is behavior uniquely associated with SRG
bloods” and that he violated the First Amendment by
“decid[ing] to charge with a false SRG affiliation
because of one word” and the use of terms that were not
“fighting words.” Id. at 11-12.
Four alleges that Lorenzen penalized Lexis despite the fact
that his prison facility “does not have any rules
published on words that are prohibited” or “a
rule for using words that c/o Lorenzen claims were uniquely
associated with SRG Bloods.” Id. at 12-13.
Five alleges that Lorenzen violated the First Amendment
because he “censored my outgoing mail due to my
communication with an alleged gang member” and
“by prohibiting my outgoing mail from reaching the
addresse[e].” Id. at 13.
Six alleges that Ebgrle violated the Due Process Clause by
not screening him for his mental health needs prior to
subjecting him to solitary confinement at Northern
Correctional Institution for three months from February 27 to
May 24, 2018, and also for crediting the disciplinary report
written by Lorenzen without doing any investigation. At the
time he was placed in solitary confinement, he was
“exhibiting psychosis[-]like symptoms like talking to
[him]self, clapping loudly for no reason & laughing
hysterically.” Id. at 14.
Seven alleges that Lorenzen falsified the disciplinary
report-that “he knew that the word ‘Stack 9'
along could not stick, so he fabricated and falsely
stated” in the report that Lexis was referring to
himself a gang leader. Lexis alleges that his reference to
“I lead heads follow” was to a “particular
quote derived from a book on Jimmy Hoffa” and that he
was “inspired by his chutzpah and thought it sounded
cool saying it in a letter.” Id. at 15.
seeks injunctive relief in the form of an order that
“throw[s] the SRG ticket out and return[s] him to a
level 2 prison.” Id. at 17. He also ...