United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Pine Bluff Division
following Recommended Disposition
("Recommendation") has been sent to United States
District Kristine G. Baker. Any party may file written
objections to this Recommendation. Objections must be
specific and include the factual or legal basis for
disagreeing with the Recommendation. An objection to a
factual finding must specifically identify the finding of
fact believed to be wrong and describe the evidence that
supports that belief.
original and one copy of the objections must be received by
the Clerk of this Court within fourteen (14) days of this
Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Baker can
adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing all
of the evidence in the record. By not objecting, you may also
waive any right to appeal questions of fact.
McAlphin ("McAlphin") is a prisoner in the Varner
Super Max Unit ("VSM") of the Arkansas Department
of Correction ("ADC"). He has filed this pro
se action alleging that the ADC violated his
constitutional rights. Docs. 1, 6, & 8. Before
McAlphin may proceed with this action, the Court must screen
26, 2017, McAlphin filed a pro se "Motion for
Contempt of Court, " alleging that the ADC wrongfully
held him in punitive isolation at the VSM for more than
thirty days. Doc. 1. That pleading was docketed as a
Complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
September 28, 2017, the Court ordered McAlphin to file an
Amended Complaint containing specific information needed to
determine whether he had pled a viable § 1983 claim.
Doc. 4. The Court also informed McAlphin that the
ADC could not be sued in a § 1983 action and instructed
him to name at least one individual as a proper Defendant.
response to the September 28, 2017 Order, McAlphin filed a
Motion for Clarification and Judicial Notice explaining that
he does not want to bring a § 1983 action.
Doc. 5. Instead, McAlphin explains that he is asking
this Court to hold the ADC in contempt for violating an Order
that was entered more than forty years ago in
Finney v. Hutto, 410 F.Supp. 251 (E.D. Ark 1976),
aff'd 437 U.S. 678 (1978).
matter of law, McAlphin cannot achieve the relief he seeks
under § 1983. See DeGidio v. Pung, 920 F.2d
525, 534-35 (8th Cir. 1990) (explaining that a prisoner
cannot bring a new action to enforce a consent decree or
order that was entered in a different lawsuit).
importantly, McAlphin has misinterpreted the Court's
holding in Finney. While the trial court in
Finney ruled that prisoners in the Cummins and
Tucker Units should serve no more than thirty consecutive
days in punitive isolation, that ruling was explicitly
limited to the facts in that case, which involved prisoners
in those two Units having to deal with truly primitive and
barbaric conditions.Finney, 410 F.Supp. at 275-278;
437 U.S. at 685-86. Thus, the ruling in Finney
provides no legal basis for McAlphin to challenge the
duration of his current confinement in
punitive isolation at the VSM.
in 1982, the Court in Finney concluded that the ADC
was in compliance with constitutional standards and the
case was dismissed, with prejudice. See Finney v. Mabry,
546 F.Supp. 628, 630 (E.D. Ark. 1982). Since that time,
federal judges in the Eastern District of Ark. have
consistently refused to reopen the Finney
case and rejected prisoners' attempts to hold
ADC officials in contempt for violating the orders and
consent decrees that were entered in that action. See,
e.g., Finney v. Lockhart, 5:69CV00024 DPM/JTR (Docs.
11 & 26).
these reasons, the Court recommends that McAlphin's
request to hold the ADC in contempt of court be denied, and
that this case be dismissed, with prejudice.