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Mendez v. Peterson

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

May 14, 2018

Raphael Mendez, Plaintiff,
v.
Officer Joseph Peterson, Defendant.

          Raphael Mendez, pro se.

          Erin M. Secord, Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANN D. MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Plaintiff Raphael Mendez's (“Mendez”) Objection [Docket No. 82] to Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson's January 23, 2018 Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 81] (“R&R”). In the R&R, Judge Thorson recommends granting Defendant Officer Joseph Peterson's (“Officer Peterson”) Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 66]. For the reasons set forth below, Mendez's Objection is overruled, the R&R is adopted, and Officer Peterson's Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment is granted.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Mendez is currently incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota (“FMC Rochester”). See Mendez v. Dole, Civ. No. 16-2644, 2017 WL 3730995, at *1 (D. Minn. Aug. 29, 2017). Mendez was indicted in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1990 for assault, possession of an unlicensed firearm during the commission of a violent crime, and possession of a firearm by a felon. See Mendez v. Bureau of Prisons, No. 08-4971, 2009 WL 3856925, at *1 (D. Minn. Nov. 17, 2009). After he was determined to be incompetent to stand trial, Mendez was transferred to FMC Butner, North Carolina for a period of restoration under 18 U.S.C. § 4246. Id. Mendez was unable to be restored to competency, and in 1991 he was civilly committed in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Id.

         On August 5, 2016, Mendez filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against known and unknown individuals employed at FMC Rochester stemming from his July 25, 2016 placement in the Segregated Housing Unit (“SHU”). See Compl. [Docket No. 1]; Am. Compl. [Docket No. 6]. Mendez seeks monetary compensation and a transfer to FMC Butner. Id.

         On January 31, 2017, all defendants except Officer Peterson filed a Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 23]. At that time, Officer Peterson had not been served because Mendez did not include Officer Peterson's full name in the Complaint [Docket No. 1] or Amended Complaint [Docket No. 6]. On August 29, 2017, the Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment as to all other defendants was granted. See Mem. Op. Order [Docket No. 50].

         On August 11, 2017, Officer Peterson was properly served, and this Motion to Dismiss was filed on October 6, 2017.

         A. The Bureau of Prisons' Inmate Discipline Program

         A comprehensive analysis of the Bureau of Prisons' (“BOP”) Inmate Discipline Program is set forth in the R&R and is incorporated by reference. See R&R 2-4. Put simply, the BOP may impose sanctions on inmates who commit “prohibited acts.” 28 C.F.R. § 541.1. When BOP staff witness or reasonably believe an inmate has committed a prohibited act, an incident report is created and a BOP staff member investigates the incident. Id. §§ 541.5(a), (b). After the investigation is complete, a Unit Discipline Committee (“UDC”) reviews the incident report, and then determines whether the inmate did or did not commit the prohibited act. Id. § 541.7(a). The UDC may refer the matter to the Discipline Hearing Officer (“DHO”) for further review, which may include a hearing and the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. Id. §§ 541.7, (a), (g); § 541.8.

         During the disciplinary process, if it appears that the inmate is mentally ill, the inmate will be examined to determine whether the inmate is responsible for his or her conduct. Id. § 541.6. Typically, there is no hearing if the inmate is found not competent or not responsible for their conduct. Stolarzyk Decl. [Docket No. 26] ¶ 6.

         B. Mendez Sends ...


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