United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Frederick K. Jackson, Plaintiff,
Michelle Smith, David Reishus, and Mike Costello, Defendants.
Fredrick K. Jackson plaintiff, pro se
Caitlin M. Micko and Rachel E. Bell counsel for the
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Katherine Menendez United States Magistrate Judge
case involves prison disciplinary decisions allegedly made by
the Defendants in violation of the constitutional rights of
the Plaintiff, Frederic K. Jackson. This matter is before the
Court on the Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
[ECF No. 33.] For the reasons that follow, the Court
recommends that the Defendants' motion be granted and
this case be dismissed.
the relevant time period, Mr. Jackson was in the Minnesota
Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights. Generally
speaking, Mr. Jackson's Amended Complaint describes two
main concerns. First, he asserts that he was disciplined for
being involved in a conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the
prison, but was not provided sufficient procedural
protections during the disciplinary process. As a sanction,
Mr. Jackson was transferred to the Administrative Control
Unit (“ACU”) within Oak Park Heights, where he
asserts that the living conditions are worse than in the
prison's general population. Given the conditions in the
ACU, Mr. Jackson claims that he was constitutionally entitled
to a more substantial hearing under the Due Process Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment.
Mr. Jackson asserts that the correctional officer responsible
for finding him guilty of the smuggling conspiracy, Defendant
Mike Costello, destroyed his property, including legal
materials, in retaliation for Mr. Jackson's appeal of the
disciplinary charges. This destruction of property and legal
materials allegedly prevented Mr. Jackson from litigating
issues related to the criminal conviction that led to his
confinement in the prison. Mr. Jackson claims that these
events deprived him of his constitutional right of access to
the courts under the First Amendment and the Fourteenth
Jackson seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as
damages against Mr. Costello. [See Am. Compl. at
28-29, ECF No. 30.]
Smuggling Conspiracy and Disciplinary Charges
Jackson explains that in early August of 2015, another inmate
named Prentis Jackson (“Prentis”) was meeting
with his girlfriend and child and was observed removing a
package of cocaine from the child's pants pocket. [Am.
Compl. at 4, ¶ A.] Prentis did this on two separate
occasions, but was caught on August 9th. [Id.] An
investigator then reviewed the prison calls of Prentis,
Cornelius Jackson (“Cornelius”), Lamante Martin,
and Mr. Jackson. [Id. at 4-5 ¶ B.] The
investigator found a call Mr. Jackson made “to someone
he referred to as his uncle and told him that Cornelius
Jackson's mom is going to drop off some money and to get
her together and tell her you have that book for her.”
[Id. at 5 ¶ C.] Cornelius meanwhile called his
mom and asked her if she had received a book and told her
that it had to have a “soft cover” due to prison
rules. [Id. at 5 ¶ D.] Mr. Jackson asserts that
because Cornelius referenced a “soft” covered
book, and soft is a slang term for powder cocaine, Mr.
Jackson was “charged with conspiracy along with
August 10, 2015, Mr. Jackson was placed in administrative
segregation, a more restrictive environment within the
prison. [Am. Compl. ¶ 3.] On August 13, 2015, the
Defendant Mike Costello served Mr. Jackson with disciplinary
charges asserting “that he conspired to smuggle cocaine
into the facility to possess illegal narcotics.”
[Id. ¶ 4.] Mr. Jackson rejected Mr.
Costello's offer of “a deal of 180 days in
seg” and stated that he would be calling witnesses.
[Id. ¶ 6-7.] He also informed Mr. Costello that
the witnesses he wanted to call were Prentis, Cornelius, and
Mr. Martin and that he wanted to present evidence of test
results showing that Mr. Jackson had a clean urinary analysis
on August 14, 2015. [Id. ¶ 10.] However, Mr.
Costello told Mr. Jackson that he would not be able to call
any witnesses because the procedure would involve only
“a minor hearing.” [Id. ¶ 8.] Mr.
Jackson alleges that Mr. Costello was manipulating the
disciplinary process by treating a major rule violation as a
minor one in order to deny Mr. Jackson the opportunity to
call witnesses. [Id. ¶¶11, 13.]
Jackson objected and wrote a kite to the Oak Park Heights
Warden, Defendant Michelle Smith. [Am. Compl. ¶ 9.] He
also wrote to “Captain Ayers” explaining that he
believed Mr. Costello had improperly treated the disciplinary
issue as an infraction warranting a minor hearing rather than
a major one, which would have entailed more procedural
protections. [Id. ¶¶ 12-13.] Despite Mr.
Jackson's objection Mr. Costello conducted a minor
hearing on August 19, 2015, at which Mr. Jackson was found to
have violated prison rules even though Cornelius told Mr.
Costello that Mr. Jackson played no part in the smuggling.
[Id. ¶¶ 15-17.] Mr. Jackson received a
punishment of 240 days in the ACU. [Id. ¶ 17.]
After his intermediate efforts to appeal Mr. Costello's
decision, Defendant David Reishus denied an appeal on
September 8, 2015, but reduced his sentence from 240 to 200
days, with the 40 days suspended for six months provided that
Mr. Jackson received no same or similar charges. [Am. Compl.
that he should have received a major hearing, Mr. Jackson
includes a number of allegations concerning the living
conditions in the ACU. Mr. Jackson also alleges that the ACU
has only one television channel, and on it, he and other
African American inmates viewed a movie called “Amazing
Grace, ” which depicted degrading and inhuman treatment
that people of color experienced during the slave trade.
[Id. ¶¶ 39-40.] For the inmates in ACU,
recreation time was regularly canceled due to staffing
shortages, and inmates frequently spent 24 straight hours
locked in their cells. [See Id. ¶¶ 62,
65.] Inmates are not able to interact with one another while
in the ACU because of the design of the doors. [Id.
Jackson further alleges that: (1) the cells in ACU are
extremely cold; (2) inmates are subjected to strip searches
under unsanitary conditions; (3) the showers are cold and
inmates are permitted only five minutes to bathe; (4) rooms
were cleaned with dirty mop water; (5) cells are infested
with insects; (6) inmates must meet with visitors behind
glass using an intercom or by video; (7) no human contact is
permitted; (8) lights are kept on 24 hours a day; (9) inmates
are not allowed to visit the law library; (10) inmates are
provided inadequate nutrition; (11) severely mentally ill
inmates are housed in ACU along with inmates who are
“temporarily sane”; and (12) there is a failure
of prison officials to “do required security
rounds.”[Am. Compl ¶¶ 80-103.]
he was in the ACU, several other inmates attempted suicide,
one smeared feces on the walls in a room neighboring Mr.
Jackson's, and others screamed obscenities and
nonsensical statements for hours. [Id. ¶¶
41-45, 49, 51-52.] Mr. Jackson himself contemplated suicide
on several occasions while in ACU. [Id. ¶¶
47, 111.] He experienced hallucinations and became paranoid.
[Id. ¶ 111, 116.] His paranoia leads him to
think about harming others before they harm him, which
resulted in a fight with another inmate in the ACU.
[Id. ¶ 116.] Since his incarceration in the
ACU, Mr. Jackson alleges that he has a hard time
communicating and has experienced memory loss. [Id.
September 2016, changes were made to the segregation policy
at Oak Park Heights. [Am. Compl. ¶¶ 119-24.]
“[I]n response to increasing concerns about the harmful
effects of extended segregation placements . . . a 90 [day]
cap was placed on segregation sentence[s].”
[Id. ¶¶ 119, 121.]
and Access to Courts
he appealed Mr. Costello's determinations that he would
only receive a minor hearing and that he violated prison
rules, Mr. Jackson alleges that Costello retaliated against
him. Mr. Costello allegedly “destroyed [Mr.
Jackson's] legal work, legal notes, attorney letters, law
books and television.” [Am. Compl. ¶ 128.] When
Mr. Jackson lodged a claim relating to his property, Mr.
Costello recommended that Mr. Jackson's property claim be
denied “to cover up [Costello's] misconduct.”
[Id. ¶ 129.] When the “subcommittee made
[Mr. Jackson] an offer for the reimbursement of the
destruction of his property, legal paper, T.V. and everything
he wrote down in his claims[, Mr. Costello] was visibly
upset.” He told Mr. Jackson that if he had just
accepted the punishment initially offered for the smuggling
charges, his property would not have been destroyed.
[Id. ¶ 130.] Eventually, Mr. Jackson was
reimbursed for his property. [Id. ¶ 132.]
being reimbursed, Mr. Jackson states that because his legal
materials were destroyed he has been prevented from
challenging his conviction. [Am. Compl. ¶ 135.] In
particular, he lost “newly discovered evidence”
as a result of Mr. Costello's destruction of his
property. Among the items he allegedly lost were the
following: (1) notes of a recorded conversation with the
owner of a firearm allegedly used by Mr. Jackson during the
commission of a robbery; (2) notes of a recorded conversation
with an individual named Tameka Bell, in which she states
that a detective threatened to prosecute her if she testified
on Mr. Jackson's behalf at an evidentiary hearing; (3)
transcripts of a phone call with a prosecution witness who
provided exculpatory information indicating that Mr. Jackson
was not involved in a murder; and (4) cell phone records from
15 years ago that would show that Mr. Jackson was not at the
scene of the crime for which he was convicted. [Id.
¶ 136.] Mr. Jackson asserts that destruction of this
evidence prevented him from supporting a habeas corpus or
post-conviction petition. [Id. ¶ 143.]
Similarly, Mr. ...