Barfield v. Brierton

Decision Date15 September 1989
Docket NumberNo. 88-3131,88-3131
Citation883 F.2d 923
PartiesMichael A. BARFIELD, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. David BRIERTON, Louis Carmichael, Richard Dugger, Thomas Barton, David E. Watson, Jerry C. Wade, Randall R. Music, John Shaw, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Michael A. Barfield, Altamonte Springs, Fla., pro se.

John C. Willis, IV, Taraska, Grower, Unger & Ketcham, P.A., Orlando, Fla., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Before FAY and HATCHETT, Circuit Judges, and HOFFMAN, * Senior District Judge.

FAY, Circuit Judge:

The plaintiff-appellant, Michael A. Barfield, appeals the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants-appellees, several members of the Florida Department of Corrections. Barfield was a prisoner in the Florida correctional system. He brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 (1982) alleging that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by: 1) transferring him to Florida State Prison, an adult prison facility, in violation of his liberty interest as a youthful offender to remain incarcerated at designated youthful offender facilities; 2) denying him access to the courts, legal counsel, law library and United States mail services while at Florida State Prison; and 3) denying him medical assistance and treatment at the state prison in violation of the eighth amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In granting summary judgment, the district court noted that the plaintiff failed to respond timely to the defendants' motion. Notwithstanding the timeliness issue, the district court examined the merits of the summary judgment motion and ruled that Barfield failed to present genuine issues of material fact regarding his various allegations against the prison officials. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we find that the evidence presented establishes genuine issues of material fact as to whether Barfield possessed a liberty interest by virtue of his youthful offender status and whether the prison officials unconstitutionally denied him access to the courts and to medical treatment. Thus, we reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment and hold that a triable issue exists regarding whether the defendants' conduct violated the plaintiff's rights under Sec. 1983.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The plaintiff, Michael A. Barfield, was incarcerated in the State of Florida prison facilities. 1 He was originally convicted in September 1982 for passing worthless checks, and was placed in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections ("D.O.C."). On October 28, 1982, he was committed to the Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler, Florida. The plaintiff claims that a state trial judge sentenced him to a three year prison term as a twenty-year-old youthful offender pursuant to Fla. Stat. Sec. 958.011-958.15 (1985). Barfield also states that the D.O.C. classified him as a youthful offender upon his commitment to the correctional system. See (R4-73, Ex. B). The defendants however, contend that the plaintiff was never sentenced as a youthful offender, but merely classified as such by the D.O.C. in its Youthful Offender Declaration. See (R3-72, Exs. A; C).

On November 23, 1982, Barfield was transferred from Lake Butler to Baker Correctional Institution in Olustee, Florida to begin his prison term. Later, on June 10, 1983, he was transferred from Baker to Cross City Correctional Institution. The defendants maintain that upon this transfer, Barfield's classification as a D.O.C. youthful offender was removed. See (R3-72, Exs. A, p. 6; C, p. 2). The plaintiff however, argues that his youthful offender status was never removed and that his D.O.C. Youthful Offender Declaration confirms this. 2 See (R4-73, Ex. B).

While incarcerated at Baker and Cross City, Barfield cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Naval Intelligence in a federal investigation centering on his possession of national security information. Barfield had been in the Navy and had held a sensitive position while there, working with computer equipment. Foreign agents allegedly contacted Barfield requesting that he pass on to them information he had obtained while in the Navy and while dating a female Naval Intelligence officer. On July 26, 1983, at Cross City, the FBI and Naval Intelligence interrogated Barfield. Later that month, Defendant David H. Brierton, Inspector General of the Florida Department of Corrections, received a telephone call from an FBI special agent regarding Barfield's involvement in national security matters. On July 29, 1983, Brierton met with the FBI's special agents C. Douglas Jones and William C. Arms at Union Correctional Institution, Raiford, Florida to discuss the investigation of the plaintiff.

According to Brierton, the FBI stated at the meeting that Barfield was a threat to national security, and that the Bureau wanted him placed in the most secure environment within the Florida correctional system pending a federal grand jury indictment within thirty to sixty days. See (R3-72, Ex. A3, pp. 15-19). Brierton also said in his deposition that the FBI requested that the plaintiff's communication with the outside world be completely severed to prevent him from communicating with any foreign agents. See (R3-72, Ex. A3, pp. 20, 70-71). Based on these representations, Brierton transferred the plaintiff from Cross City to Florida State Prison on July 29, 1983 where he was initially housed on Q Wing, a management cellblock, of the prison's Death Row. Barfield remained in this cell from July 29, 1983 until August 24, 1983 when he was transferred to the prison infirmary. See (R3-72, Ex. G, pp. 2-3). He was housed in a cell in the infirmary until October 6, 1983.

The plaintiff states that while incarcerated at Florida State Prison, he was subjected to psychological torture and violent physical and sexual assaults on repeated occasions. According to Barfield, several prison officials taunted and harassed him in his cell located near the electric chair, including issuing threats that he was scheduled to have his head shaved in preparation for electrocution, and that he would eat his last meal shortly. See (R4-90, Ex. F, p. 96 of 12/4/87 depo.). 3 Barfield also states that he was raped numerous times by another inmate who had access to his cell. The inmate carried a broom and mop bucket for sweeping out the cells, and entered Barfield's with a key. The violent attacks then ensued. Id. at 107-111. Barfield maintains that he requested medical treatment subsequent to the assaults, but the corrections officials ignored or denied his requests. Id. at 111-116. He also claims that while he was at the prison, he was not permitted access to the courts nor permitted any chance to communicate with the outside world. The defendants however, deny each of these allegations.

Approximately thirty days after the plaintiff was transferred to Florida State Prison, Brierton contacted the FBI concerning the status of the federal indictment and was assured that the matter was proceeding forward. After sixty days, Brierton attempted to contact the FBI several times but was unsuccessful. He then authorized the plaintiff's transfer to the Reception and Medical Center at Lake Butler Correctional Institution on October 6, 1983. See (R3-72, Ex. A, p. 5). The plaintiff was never indicted by a federal grand jury.

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This appeal raises several questions concerning jurisdiction and the timely filing of motions. We therefore, carefully set out the procedural history of the case. On September 12, 1986, Barfield filed a civil rights complaint against several members of the Florida D.O.C. in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under Sec. 1983. See (R1-1). He filed his first amended complaint on March 9, 1987, naming additional defendants. The defendants answered the complaint on April 2, 1987. On May 22, 1987, the district court entered an order setting the action for jury trial and establishing deadlines for the completion of discovery. The trial was set for November 20, 1987, with all discovery to be completed by September 21, 1987.

On September 4, 1987, the defendants filed a motion to continue the trial or, in the alternative, to extend discovery and pre-trial motion deadlines. The plaintiff also filed a motion to continue the trial on September 22, 1987. Accordingly, on September 25, 1987, the district court entered an amended order resetting the case for jury trial on February 1, 1988, and extending the deadlines for completion of discovery and the filing of all motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment to January 4, 1988.

On November 5, 1987, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and a motion to file a memorandum of law in excess of twenty pages in support of their motion for summary judgment. The district court notified the parties on November 30, 1987, that it would take the motion for summary judgment under advisement on December 28, 1987 and that no hearing would be held on the motion. The district court further stated that the parties could file documents in support of, or in opposition to, the motion until that date. See (R3-67).

The district court entered an order on December 11, 1987 denying the defendants' motion to file a memorandum of law in excess of twenty pages in support of their motion for summary judgment. The court advised the defendants that they had five days to file their memorandum not to exceed twenty pages, and that the plaintiff had fifteen days from the filing of the defendants' memorandum to respond. See (R3-69). On December 22, 1987, the parties stipulated to dismissal of ten of the twenty D.O.C. defendants. Thereafter, on December 23, 1987, ...

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