717 F.3d 1062 (9th Cir. 2013), 10-16658, Jones v. McDaniel

Docket Nº:10-16658.
Citation:717 F.3d 1062
Opinion Judge:BERZON, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:Christopher A. JONES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. E.K. McDANIEL; Mark Drain; Jackie Crawford, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Bradley Walters (argued) and Jorge Nicolas Anwandter (argued), Law Students, under the supervision of Erwin Chemerinsky, Peter Afrasiabi, and Kathryn Davis, University of California, Irvine, School of Law, Appellate Litigation Clinic, Irvine, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Clark G. Leslie (argued),...
Judge Panel:Before: MARSHA S. BERZON and RICHARD C. TALLMAN, Circuit Judges, and LEE H. ROSENTHAL, District Judge.[*]
Case Date:June 10, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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717 F.3d 1062 (9th Cir. 2013)

Christopher A. JONES, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

E.K. McDANIEL; Mark Drain; Jackie Crawford, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 10-16658.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

June 10, 2013

         Argued and Submitted April 12, 2013.

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          Bradley Walters (argued) and Jorge Nicolas Anwandter (argued), Law Students, under the supervision of Erwin Chemerinsky, Peter Afrasiabi, and Kathryn Davis, University of California, Irvine, School of Law, Appellate Litigation Clinic, Irvine, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Clark G. Leslie (argued), Senior Deputy Attorney General, and Catherine Cortez Masto, Attorney General, Carson City, NV, for Defendants-Appellees.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Robert A. McQuaid, Magistrate Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 3:05-cv-00278-RAM.

          Before: MARSHA S. BERZON and RICHARD C. TALLMAN, Circuit Judges, and LEE H. ROSENTHAL, District Judge.[*]

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          OPINION

          BERZON, Circuit Judge:

         While incarcerated in Ely State Prison in Ely, Nevada, Christopher Jones wrote a letter to his fellow inmates, calling on them to work together in support of his class action lawsuit against prison administrators. Later, prison officials discovered the letter in Jones' cell and disciplined him for violating a prison regulation that prohibited encouraging disruption.

         Jones filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Warden E.K. McDaniel, Corrections Officer Mark Drain, and Nevada Department of Corrections (" NDOC" ) Director Jackie Crawford (collectively, " defendants" ), alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court granted Jones summary judgment on the due process claim, but granted defendants summary judgment as to the First Amendment claims. Following a jury trial on damages in which Jones was awarded both nominal and punitive damages, the parties entered into a settlement agreement, according to which Jones received $11,000 plus costs and attorney's fees, as well as expungement of the record of the violation, " in full satisfaction of the judgment entered herein." Jones then filed this appeal seeking review of the district court's adverse partial summary judgment order regarding his First Amendment claims.

         The question in this case is whether Jones' appeal may go forward or whether it was rendered moot by the parties' settlement agreement. We hold the latter and dismiss the appeal.

         I. Background

         A. The Letter

         In September 1999, Jones drafted a letter to his fellow inmates, calling on them to " work togather [sic] and try and tie this system in knots, by using the legal system and the administrative grievence [sic] process to open the door for [a] class action I am working on." By " working together for our common good," Jones wrote, the inmates " [would] have a loud voice" to " direct [their] distrust, dissatisfaction, rage and intelligence in one direction (at the system) instead of at each other." Jones concluded by telling inmates to " read this[,] and if you agree[,] just write your cell [number] on the back and pass it to the next cell and I'll get back to you with the next step." Jones did not circulate the letter broadly; he may, however, have shown it to a few other inmates.

         In September 2000, NDOC Corrections Officer Michael Nustad searched Jones' cell as part of an unrelated prison-wide search. According to Jones, Officer Nustad was aware that Jones previously had filed § 1983 actions against several other corrections officers. Jones states that during the search of his cell, he heard Officer Nustad tell another corrections officer, " this is the case I was telling you about against the Sarg, Rob and Grant. This is that assh— e." At some point during the search, Officer Nustad discovered the letter.

         B. Disciplinary Proceedings

         The following day, Officer Nustad wrote up charges against Jones for violating Code of Penal Discipline Section MJ-28, which prohibits prisoners from " [o]rganizing, encouraging or participating in a work stoppage or other disruptive demonstration or practice." The charging document characterizes the letter as an " attempt to organize and disrupt," citing language from the letter calling on inmates to " [tie] the system in knots" and " direct ... distrust, dissatisfaction, rage and intelligence ... at the system."

          Corrections Officer Mark Drain served as the Hearing Officer at Jones' subsequent

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disciplinary hearing on the MJ-28 charge. At the hearing, Officer Drain refused Jones' request for a copy of the letter to review prior to or during the proceedings. When Jones repeatedly asked for the letter to be produced, Officer Drain removed him for " disrupting the hearing." Officer Drain then determined that Jones had violated MJ-28, and issued sanctions of 180 days in disciplinary segregation, 90 days loss of phone privileges, and forfeiture of the letter.

         Jones appealed Officer Drain's determination to Warden McDaniel, contending that the letter should have been presented at the hearing, and that it was protected under the First Amendment. Warden McDaniel upheld the finding and sanctions. Having exhausted his appeals within the prison system, Jones served the entirety of his disciplinary sanctions.

         C. Jones' § 1983 Suit

         1. Partial Summary Judgment Orders

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Jones filed an amended complaint against Officer Drain, Warden McDaniel, and NDOC Director Crawford. Jones asserted three causes of action: (1) violation of his procedural due process rights stemming from Officer Drain's refusal to produce the letter at the disciplinary hearing; (2) violation of his First Amendment rights and retaliation based on the exercise of his right to free speech; and (3) violations of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments by Warden McDaniel and Crawford based on their failure to supervise their subordinates. Jones requested declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $10,000.

         Magistrate Judge Robert McQuaid, Jr. issued a Report and...

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