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Brown v. Faucher

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 18, 2019

CHRISTOPHER BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
WARDEN FAUCHER et al., Defendants.

          INITIAL REVIEW ORDER PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 1915A

          JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Christopher Brown 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 alleging that defendants improperly placed him in restrictive housing in violation of his constitutional rights. For the reasons stated below, I will dismiss Brown's complaint.

         Background

          Brown was confined at the Corrigan Correctional Center at the time of the events alleged in the complaint. His complaint names the following defendants: Corrigan Correctional Center Warden Faucher, District Administrator Edward Maldonado, and Lieutenants Cronin and Conjer. Doc. #1 at 2 (¶¶ 1-6).

         The following facts are alleged in the complaint and are accepted as true only for purposes of this ruling. The DOC has classified Brown as a seriously mentally ill inmate. Ibid. (¶ 7). He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and anti-social personality disorder. Ibid. (¶ 8). He also suffers from suicidal ideations. Ibid. (¶ 9).

         On August 17, 2017, at approximately 8:15 a.m., Counselor Crane, the grievance coordinator, entered Brown's housing unit to collect the grievances from the designated boxes. Ibid. (¶ 11). Crane found an anonymous inmate request form with the following written message: “I should just knock you out you dumb white hoe.” Id. at 4 (¶ 11), 17. Crane interpreted the message as threatening in nature and reported it to the unit manager, Lieutenant Cronin. Id. at 4 (¶¶ 11-12), 17-18.

         Upon receiving the inmate request form, Cronin launched an investigation to determine who wrote the message and placed the form in the grievance box. Doc. #1 at 4 (¶ 12). After reviewing the video surveillance system, Cronin determined that Brown's cellmate, Armand Beiaj, had gone to their cell, at which point Brown had passed him the form through the door crack. Id. at 4 (¶¶ 13-14), 18. Afterward, Beiaj walked directly to the grievance box and dropped the form inside. Id. at 18. The original inmate request and DVD with the surveillance footage were both stored as evidence in a facility safe. Id. at 4 (¶ 14), 18.

         As a result of the investigation, Beiaj was issued a Class A disciplinary report for accessory to commit assault on a DOC employee and placed in a restrictive housing unit (“RHU”) on administrative detention status. Doc. #1 at 5 (¶ 15), 18. Although he was not issued a disciplinary report for the threatening message, Brown was also placed in segregation on administrative detention status pending the outcome of the investigation. Id. at 5 (¶¶ 15-18). Brown contends that the video surveillance footage does not show him passing anything to Beiaj-and that if it had, he would have also received a disciplinary ticket for acting as an accessory alongside Beiaj. Id. (¶ 19). Thus, he claims that his placement in segregation was done in retaliation for his numerous lawsuits filed against Corrigan personnel. Id. at 6 (¶ 21).

         Brown was placed in a solitary confinement unit with no windows or clocks. Ibid. (¶ 22). He was forced to eat all his meals in his cell and was deprived of personal property, phone calls, and contact visits. Ibid. The conditions exacerbated his pre-existing mental health problems. Ibid. (¶ 23). Brown remained in the RHU for more than one month. Ibid. (¶ 22). While confined there, Brown sought to preserve the camera footage and other evidence from the August 17 incident via inmate request form. Id. at 7 (¶ 24), 23.

         Brown later learned that Cronin did not have the authority to place him in segregation because, pursuant to DOC regulations, such a decision may only come from a shift commander, the warden, the deputy warden, or the director of offender classification. Id. at 7 (¶ 27), 25. Brown filed a request on August 31, 2017, challenging Cronin's decision to place him in segregation. Id. at 8 (¶ 28), 26. After confirming that it was Cronin who ordered the placement, Brown filed a grievance against him for placing him in segregation without a hearing or an explanation of the reasons for his placement. Id. at 8 (¶ 29), 27. Brown also contended that Cronin did not have the authority to order his placement in segregation. Id. at 27. The grievance was denied on September 27 on the ground that Brown's placement in segregation on administrative detention status was authorized under DOC Administrative Directive 9.4 § 3(B). Ibid. That provision defines “Administrative Detention” as “[p]lacement of an inmate in a [RHU] that results in segregation of the inmate . . . [f]or investigation of an allegation or information involving the inmate in the commission of a crime, or of activities jeopardizing the security of the facility or the safety of staff or inmates that could result in placement on punitive or administrative segregation or transfer to high security.” Id. at 30. Brown appealed the denial of the grievance to District Administrator Maldonado. Id. at 8 (¶ 30), 28. Maldonado denied the appeal, reasoning that Brown's administrative detention status was authorized pursuant to Administrative Directive 9.4, § 3(B). Id. at 28.

         On August 30, 2017, Lieutenant Conjer placed Brown on consecutive administrative detention status “pending a custody review for a staff profile.” Doc. #1 at 10 (¶¶ 39-40), 31. Like Cronin, Conjer does not have the authority to order administrative detention. Id. at 10 (¶ 40). Once again, Brown filed an inmate request challenging Conjer's decision. Id. at 11 (¶¶ 42-43), 32. Conjer responded that the order was authorized under Administrative Directive 9.4 § 9(A). Id. at 32. That provision provides:

In order to protect the inmate or others, the Unit Administrator or designee may order an inmate's placement on restrictive housing status, Administrative Detention or Transfer Detention by completing CN 9401, [RHU] Status Order, stating the specific reasons for placement. Copies shall be distributed as designated on CN 9401, [RHU] Status Order. The Unit Administrator shall receive the original copy of the order within 24 hours or the following business day after placement. The Unit Administrator shall see that the required reviews are performed and documented on CN 9401, [RHU] Status Order.

Id. at 47. Brown then filed grievances challenging the second administrative detention order, which Warden Faucher denied. Id. at 11 (¶ 44), 36. Faucher stated that one of the grievances was duplicative of the first grievance and that custody review was an investigation which authorized administrative detention. Id. at 11 (¶ 44), 36, 46.

         Brown appealed Faucher's decision to District Administrator Maldonado. Doc. #1 at 11 (¶ 46), 33, 37, 42. Among the arguments he raised on appeal, Brown contended that he was unlawfully kept in the RHU for 29 days when Administrative Directive 9.4 (Attachment B) authorizes administrative detention for only 14 days. Id. at 11 (ΒΆ 45), 34, 45. Maldonado denied the appeal on the ground that ...


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