902 F.3d 1162 (10th Cir. 2018), 17-3185, Grissom v. Roberts
|Citation:||902 F.3d 1162|
|Opinion Judge:||HARTZ, Circuit Judge.|
|Party Name:||Richard GRISSOM, Plaintiff-Appellant v. Raymond ROBERTS, Secretary of Corrections, in his individual and official capacity; Johnnie Goddard, Deputy Secretary for Facilities Management, in his individual and official capacity; James Heimgartner, Warden, El Dorado Correctional Facility, in his individual and official capacity; Gary Wilson, ...|
|Attorney:||Susan M. Razzano, Eimer Stahl LLP, Chicago, Illinois (Brian Y. Chang, Eimer Stahl, LLP, Chicago, Illinois, Daniel M. Greenfield, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, Chicago, Illinois, with her on the briefs), for Plaintiff-Appell...|
|Judge Panel:||Before LUCERO, BALDOCK, and HARTZ, Circuit Judges. LUCERO, J., concurring in the judgment.|
|Case Date:||August 29, 2018|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit|
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (D.C. No. 5:15-CV-03221-JTM-DJW)
Susan M. Razzano, Eimer Stahl LLP, Chicago, Illinois (Brian Y. Chang, Eimer Stahl, LLP, Chicago, Illinois, Daniel M. Greenfield, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, Chicago, Illinois, with her on the briefs), for Plaintiff-Appellant.
Dwight R. Carswell, Assistant Solicitor General, Topeka, Kansas (Toby Crouse, Solicitor General of Kansas, Bryan C. Clark, Assistant Solicitor General, Rachael D. Longhofer, Assistant Attorney General, Roger W. Slead, and Jeffrey T. Donoho, Horn, Aylward & Bandy, LLC, Kansas City, Missouri, with him on the brief), for Defendants-Appellees.
Brook R. Long, Winston & Strawn, LLP, Chicago, Illinois, and Claire A. Fundakowski, Winston & Strawn, LLP, Washington, D.C. filed an Amici Curiae brief in support of Plaintiff-Appellant.
Before LUCERO, BALDOCK, and HARTZ, Circuit Judges.
HARTZ, Circuit Judge.
Richard Grissom, a prisoner in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against a number of state corrections and prison officials (collectively the Prison Officials), alleging violations of his constitutional rights stemming from his lengthy placement in solitary confinement. The district court granted summary judgment against Grissom, and he appeals. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm. The Prison Officials are entitled to qualified immunity because at the time of Grissoms confinement there was no clearly established law that would have alerted them that his asserted constitutional rights were being violated.
After being convicted in 1989 of a number of crimes, including the murders of three women and aggravated kidnapping, Grissom began serving four consecutive life sentences. He spent six years in general population until he was placed in solitary confinement in 1996 based on allegations that he was trafficking drugs. (Grissom uses the term solitary confinement . The Prison Officials speak of administrative segregation, a less emotive term. For convenience, we will generally use Grissoms nomenclature.) Grissom remained in solitary at several Kansas prisons— Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF), El Dorado Correctional Facility (EDCF), and Hutchinson Correctional Facility (HCF)— for nearly 20 years before being returned to general population in 2016.
This is Grissoms second lawsuit challenging his solitary confinement. In his first lawsuit the district court granted summary judgment against him, holding that there had been no constitutional violation. See Grissom v. Werholtz, No. 07-3302-SAC, 2012 WL 3732895 (D. Kan. August 28, 2012) (Grissom I ). We affirmed. See Grissom v. Werholtz, 524 Fed.Appx. 467 (10th Cir. 2013) (Grissom II ).
In September 2015 Grissom filed his pro se complaint in this case, asserting that his two decades in solitary violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process
and equal protection. He later filed an amended complaint expanding on his allegations and adding an Eighth Amendment claim, and then he filed a supplemental complaint adding new defendants who allegedly retaliated against him. The district court considered both his amended and supplemental complaints and again granted summary judgment against him. See
Grissom v. Roberts, No. 15-3221-JTM, 2017 WL 3130591, at *7 (D. Kan. July 24, 2017) (Grissom III ). For our purposes the amended complaint is the relevant pleading, as Grissom does not raise on appeal any of the additional claims from his supplemental complaint.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW AND QUALIFIED IMMUNITY
"We review summary judgments de novo, applying the same standards that the district court should apply." United States v. Turley, 878 F.3d 953, 956 (10th Cir. 2017). "When reviewing a grant of summary judgment, this court must examine the record to determine whether any genuine issue of material fact pertinent to the ruling remains and, if not, whether the substantive law was correctly applied." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
Individual defendants sued for damages under § 1983 may raise a defense of qualified immunity. "Qualified immunity attaches when an officials conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Kisela v. Hughes, __ U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 1148, 1152, 200 L.Ed.2d 449 (2018) (internal quotation marks omitted). This standard arises from balancing two important but contrary interests. On the one hand, "an action for damages may offer the only realistic avenue for vindication of constitutional guarantees." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 814, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982). On the other hand, exposing public officials to liability for damages presents its own "social costs[,] includ[ing] the expenses of litigation, the diversion of official energy from pressing public issues, and the deterrence of able citizens from acceptance of public office." Id. And, perhaps most significantly, "there is the danger that fear of being sued will dampen the ardor of all but the most resolute, or the most irresponsible public officials, in the unflinching discharge of their duties." Id. (brackets and internal quotation marks omitted).
"Because the focus is on whether the officer had fair notice that her conduct was unlawful, reasonableness is judged against the backdrop of the law at the time of the conduct." Kisela, 138 S.Ct. at 1152 (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, when a defendant has raised qualified immunity as a defense, the plaintiff must establish (1) that the defendants action violated a federal constitutional or statutory right; and (2) that the right violated was clearly established at the time of the defendants actions. See Thomson v. Salt Lake Cty., 584 F.3d 1304, 1312 (10th Cir. 2009). Under this test, "immunity protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law." Kisela, 138 S.Ct. at 1152 (internal quotation marks omitted).
The test imposes a "heavy two-part burden." Casey v. W. Las Vegas Indep. Sch. Dist., 473 F.3d 1323, 1327 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). If the plaintiff fails to satisfy either part of the two-part inquiry, a court must grant the defendant qualified immunity...
To continue readingFREE SIGN UP