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Vaughn v. Gibson

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

October 5, 2017

CHESTER VAUGHN PLAINTIFF
v.
WARDEN JAMES HOOT GIBSON, ASSISTANT WARDEN A. JACKSON, DISCPLINARY HEARING OFFICER JUSTINE MINOR, LT. SETH MAXWELL, DEPUTY DIRECTOR DEXTER PAYNE, OFFICER T. STOUGENBURG DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          P. K. HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a civil rights action filed by the Plaintiff pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court has the obligation to screen any complaint in which an individual has sought leave to proceed IFP. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). On review, the Court is to dismiss the Complaint, or any portion of the Complaint, that is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on May 26, 2017. (ECF No. 1). The basis of Plaintiff's claim concerns a letter he wrote to Defendant Warden Gibson, and the subsequent events triggered by this letter. Plaintiff alleges that, in this letter, he asked Defendant Gibson “why white prisoners are treated different than black prisoners.” Plaintiff further alleges he asked Defendant Gibson “why is it that blacks can call each other nigger alday [sic] long and nothing be done about it but let a white man say that word and he gets a disciplinary.” (ECF No. 1 at 6). Plaintiff attached the disciplinary charge document concerning this letter. This charge described the letter as follows:

On 2/24/17 at approx. 10 am I Lt. Maxwell received a letter addressed to Warden Gipson from inmate Chester Vaughn # 129334. In this letter Inmate Vaughn talks about the unfair treatment of whites and goes on to say nigger many times. Inmate Vaughn goes on to complains [sic] about their music being played after lights out, stealing chicken, cake, and cookies from the kitchen. At the bottom of the letter he asked Mr. Gipson, Why is it that a nigger can call each other nigger, but when a white man say nigger, they get in trouble? Inmate was given a confiscation form. Therefore I Lt. Maxwell charge Inmate Vaughn #129334 with rule violation 1-7 and 2-5.

(ECF No. 1 at 3). Plaintiff alleges Defendant Warden Gibson placed him in isolation without investigating anything in the letter, and told him not to send any more letters with those adjectives in them. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Gibson therefore punished him “for using my freedom of speech.” (ECF No. 1 at 5). Plaintiff alleges Defendant Assistant Warden Jackson “did not come to me to investigate anything on why I was appealing the disciplinary.” (ECF No. 1 at 6). He alleges Defendant Jackson has heard blacks call each other the “n” word and done nothing about it, therefore he knows whites are treated differently than blacks. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Jackson violated his freedom of speech. (ECF No. 1at 6).

         Plaintiff alleges the disciplinary charge hearing officer, Defendant Minor, did not allow him to complete his defense statement during his disciplinary hearing. Plaintiff alleges he stated he told her he wanted to address the court before he entered a plea, and she did not allow him to do so. (ECF No. 1 at 7). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges she “got into her fellings when she showed unprofessional conduct by stoping me in the court hearing when I asked her before I enter a plea I would like to address the courts. She started yelling and said no your going to enter a plea. This shows she was in her felling because she was addressing a white man who used the (n) word.” [sic] (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant Maxwell did not provide the paperwork Plaintiff requested to prepare his defense. (ECF No. 1 at 8).

         Plaintiff alleges he spoke to Defendant Deputy Payne through the mail many times. He alleges Defendant Payne sent him a letter telling him “it is ok for me to ask questions, ” but did nothing to help him or to get his disciplinary conviction overturned. Defendant Payne also denied Plaintiff's request for a hearing with Defendant Payne. (ECF No. 1 at 8).

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant Stougenberg refused to let him go to the law library on two occasions, and this showed she had a personal grudge against Plaintiff for writing her up on another occasion. (ECF No. 1 at 9).

         Plaintiff proceeds against all Defendants both their official and personal capacity. (ECF No. 1, pp. 5-9). Plaintiff seeks punitive damages, and to have the Defendants removed from their jobs. (ECF No. 1 at 17). He further seeks $100 per day for every day it took for him to get his Class One status back, and $100 per day for the 150 days of good-time credit that was taken from him as a result of the disciplinary conviction. (ECF No. 1 at 26).

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Disciplinary ...


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