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Brown v. Yordy

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 31, 2019

KEITH A. BROWN, Plaintiff,


          B. Lynn Winmill, U.S. District Court Judge.


         Pending before the Court are six motions filed by Plaintiff Keith Brown. The motions are ripe for adjudication. After careful consideration, and for the reasons explained below, the Court will deny Plaintiff's motions for appointment of counsel (Dkt. 48; Dkt. 53), the Court will grant in part and deny in part Plaintiff's motions to compel discovery (Dkt. 54; Dkt. 56), the Court will conditionally grant Plaintiff's motion regarding introduction of his disciplinary records and the Balla monthly monitoring meeting minutes (Dkt. 55), and will deny Plaintiff's motion for return of appellate filing fees. (Dkt. 50.)


         Keith A. Brown is a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC) and is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this action. On April 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging that Defendants violated his rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America. On November 2, 2018, United States Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale reviewed Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915 and 1915A, determined that it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and gave Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended complaint. (Dkt. 21.)

         The case was reassigned to the undersigned District Judge on December 4, 2017, for consideration of dismissal. (Dkt. 22.) On December 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint. (Dkt. 25.) On May 1, 2018, the Court issued a Successive Review Order, wherein it reviewed the initial Complaint and Judge Dale's Initial Review Order de novo. (Dkt. 26.) The Court adopted Judge Dale's analysis and conclusions regarding the insufficiency of the initial Complaint. Id. The Court also reviewed the Amended Complaint, concluded that Plaintiff failed to remedy the deficiencies in the initial Complaint, and dismissed the case with prejudice. (Dkt. 26; Dkt. 27.) Plaintiff appealed the Court's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

         On September 12, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued a decision that affirmed in part and reversed in part this Court's order, and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Ninth Circuit held that Plaintiff's Amended Complaint states a plausible due process claim based on allegations that Plaintiff was unable to present evidence during two disciplinary hearings that led to Plaintiff being temporarily held in enhanced confinement conditions. (Dkt. 33 at 2.)

         The Ninth Circuit found also that Plaintiff pleaded plausible equal protection and retaliation claims based on the allegation that his disciplinary category was enhanced based on his status as a Balla case representative. Id. at 3-4. The Ninth Circuit's mandate issued on October 10, 2018. (Dkt. 34.) In line with the Ninth Circuit's judgment, the Court reopened the case (Dkt. 35), and Defendants filed their Answer. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed the six pending motions. The Court will analyze the merits of each motion below.


         On August 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion that sought, in part, clarification of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's Memorandum and Mandate. (Dkt. 54.) Plaintiff filed a second motion to similar effect on September 3, 2019. (Dkt. 56.) As such, the Court will outline Plaintiff's surviving claims below prior to turning to the substantive motions.

         1. Surviving Claims

         A. Due Process Claims

         The Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the following three due process-based claims:

(1) The claim that Defendants violated prison policy during Brown's disciplinary hearing. This claim was dismissed by the Court because “a § 1983 claim cannot be based on a prison's failure to follow its ‘own, more general procedures,' so long as minimum constitutional requirements are met.” (Dkt. 26 at 7; (quoting Walker v. Sumner, 14 F.3d 1415, 1420 (9th Cir. 1994))).
(2) Plaintiff's claim that Defendants violated the Balla injunctions. (Dkt. 21 at 25; Dkt. 26 at 7-8.) This claim was addressed by the Court in combination with the policy allegations in the Original Review Order and again in the Successive Review Order. (Dkt. 21 at 25; Dkt. 26 at 7-8.) It was dismissed in both orders because “any argument that the IDOC is not complying with an injunction in another case cannot be brought in a separate action but must instead be asserted in the original action.” Id. Although the Ninth Circuit did not address this claim separately from the other policy claims, it affirmed this Court's dismissal of the policy claim, and thus did not reverse the judgment as to this claim. (See Dkt. 33.) (3) Plaintiff's claim that his thirty-day confinement in disciplinary segregation violated a protected liberty interest. Id. at 2. The Ninth Circuit found Plaintiff failed to show that this discipline imposed an “atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.” Id. (quoting Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995)).

         Provided the foregoing, Plaintiff's surviving due process-based claims are:

(1) the allegation that Defendants violated his procedural due process rights because he was unable to present evidence during his disciplinary hearing; and
(2) that he had a protected liberty interest in avoiding detention at the Idaho State Maximum Security Institution. (See Dkt. 33 at 2-3.)

         B. Equal Protection and Retaliation Claim

         The Ninth Circuit's order revived Plaintiff's Equal Protection and Retaliation claim. Plaintiff alleged his disciplinary charge was enhanced in retaliation for Plaintiff serving as a class representative in Balla v. IDOC, 1:81-cv-01165-BLW, and therefore prison authorities treated him differently than other similarly situated inmates. (Dkt. 25 at 19.) To this end, the Ninth Circuit found Plaintiff stated a plausible equal protection and retaliation claim and reversed the Court's judgment as to ...

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