United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Eastern Division
Procedure for Filing Objections:
Recommended Disposition (“Recommendation”) has
been sent to Judge D.P. Marshall Jr. You may file written
objections to this Recommendation. If you file objections,
they must be specific and must include the factual or legal
basis for your objection.
objections must be received in the office of the United
States District Court Clerk within fourteen (14) days of this
Recommendation. If no objections are filed, Judge Marshall
can adopt this Recommendation without independently reviewing
the record. By not objecting, you may also waive any right to
appeal questions of fact.
Bobby Ray Wyles, Jr., an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional
Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction, filed this
case without the help of a lawyer under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. (Docket entry #1) In his complaint, Mr. Wyles claims
that his due process rights were violated when Defendants
conducted his September 29, 2017 disciplinary hearing in his
result of the disciplinary conviction, he alleges, he was
reduced from class one to class four, which resulted in a
loss of parole eligibility. In addition to the reduction in
class, Mr. Wyles was also sentenced to thirty days in
punitive isolation; and he lost fifty days of good time
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) requires
federal courts to screen prisoner complaints that seek relief
against a governmental entity, officer, or employee. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court must dismiss claims that
are legally frivolous or malicious; that fail to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted; or that seek monetary
relief from a defendant who is immune from paying damages. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b). When screening a complaint, the court
must accept the truth of the factual allegations in the
complaint, and the court may consider the documents attached
to the complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009); Reynolds v. Dormire, 636 F.3d 976, 979
(8th Cir. 2011).
Court will assume that all of the allegations in the
complaint are true. The question is whether these allegations
state a claim for denial of Mr. Wyles's right to
procedural due process.
prisoner has a right to procedural due process only if he has
a liberty interest at stake. See Sandin v. Conner,
515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995); Phillips v. Norris, 320
F.3d 844, 847 (8th Cir. 2003). Thus, the next question is
whether Mr. Wyles had a liberty interest at stake. In other
words, did the consequences he suffered as a result of the
arguably unfair disciplinary hearing cause harm rising to a
constitution level? Unfortunately for Mr. Wyles, under
current law, even though his allegations are true, the
punishments imposed here do not rise to the level of a loss
prisoners have no liberty interest in maintaining a
particular classification level. See Moody v.
Daggett, 429 U.S. 78, 88 n.9 (1976); PortleyBEl v.
Brill, 288 F.3d 1063, 1065B66 (8th Cir. 2002);
Carney v. Houston, 33 F.3d 893, 894 (8th Cir. 1994);
Madewell v. Roberts, 909 F.2d 1203, 1207 (8th Cir.
placement in punitive isolation for a relatively short time
is not deemed serious enough to trigger due process
protections. See PortleyBEl v. Brill, 288 F.3d 1063,
1065B66 (8th Cir. 2002) (thirty days in punitive segregation
was not an atypical and significant hardship under
Sandin, ); Orr v. Larkins, 610 F.3d 1032,
1034 (8th Cir. 2010) (inmate was not deprived of liberty
interest during nine months in administrative segregation);
Kennedy v. Blankenship, 100 F.3d 640, 642-43 &
n.2 (8th Cir. 1996) (placement in punitive isolation was not
atypical and significant hardship despite restrictions in
mail, telephone, visitation, commissary, and property
even the loss of good-time credits is not enough to implicate
a liberty interest in Arkansas. In some states, prisoners do
have a liberty interest in the loss of good-time credits.
Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 94 S.Ct. 2963
(1974). But state law, not federal, determines whether
prisoners have such a liberty interest. See Sandlin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 477B484, 115 S.Ct. 2293
(1995)(holding that states may create liberty interests in
good-time credit protected by the Due Process Clause). The
Supreme Court of Arkansas has held that there is no liberty
interest in the accumulation or loss of good-time credits
under Arkansas law. McKinnon v. Norris, 366 Ark. 404
(2006); Koontz v. Norris, 2008 WL 2310973
Wyles also argues that ADC officials violated policy when
they conducted his disciplinary hearing without his presence.
(#2, #5) Even so, the failure to follow prison policy is not
a matter that triggers constitutional protection for
prisoners. See Phillips v. Norris, 320 F.3d 844, 847
(8th Cir. 2003); Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427,
430 (8th Cir.1997); Kennedy v. Blankenship, 100 F.3d
640, 643 (8th Cir.1996).