Johnson v. Houston County Georgia, 122018 FED11, 18-11322

Docket Nº:18-11322
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:TIMOTHY R. JOHNSON, Plaintiff - Appellee Cross Appellant, v. HOUSTON COUNTY GEORGIA, et al., Defendants, CITY OF WARNER ROBINS, GEORGIA, DEBORAH D MILLER, Detective, individually and in her official capacity as an officer of Warner Robins Police Department, MALCOLM H DERRICK, JR, Detective, 'Mac', individually and in his official capacity as an...
Judge Panel:Before WILSON, ROSENBAUM, and HULL, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:December 20, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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TIMOTHY R. JOHNSON, Plaintiff - Appellee Cross Appellant,

v.

HOUSTON COUNTY GEORGIA, et al., Defendants,

CITY OF WARNER ROBINS, GEORGIA, DEBORAH D MILLER, Detective, individually and in her official capacity as an officer of Warner Robins Police Department, MALCOLM H DERRICK, JR, Detective, "Mac", individually and in his official capacity as an officer of Warner Robins Police Department, H. D. DENNARD, Captain, individually and in his official capacity as an officer of Warner Robins Police Department, R. G. WEST, Lieutenant, individually and in his official capacity as an officer of Warner Robins Police Department, et al., Defendants-Appellees,

MARGARET HAYS, Defendant-Appellant Cross Appellee.

No. 18-11322

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

December 20, 2018

DO NOT PUBLISH

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia D.C. Docket No. 5:15-cv-00419-TES

Before WILSON, ROSENBAUM, and HULL, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

In 2006, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned plaintiff Timothy Johnson's convictions and life sentences for murder and armed robbery, concluding that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary. Johnson was re-indicted and transferred to Houston County Jail to await trial. Over seven years later, he was acquitted.

After his release, Johnson brought this counseled federal civil-rights lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution and violations of his substantive and procedural due-process rights. The district court resolved all claims against Johnson save one: a substantive-due-process claim based on his pretrial confinement in administrative segregation after his convictions were overturned in 2006. For that claim, the court denied qualified immunity to defendant Sergeant Margaret Hays, who made permanent Johnson's administrative-segregation classification in January 2011. Hays now appeals the denial of qualified immunity, and Johnson cross-appeals the grant of summary judgment on a procedural-due-process claim also based on his confinement in administrative segregation.

I.

In September 1984, Taressa Stanley, a convenience-store clerk, was shot during an armed robbery and later died from her injuries. Johnson was charged with the armed robbery and murder, and he pled guilty to those charges in December 1984. In February 2006, the Georgia Supreme Court vacated Johnson's convictions, concluding that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because the record did not show that he had been advised at the plea hearing of certain constitutional rights. Johnson v. Smith, 626 S.E.2d 470, 471 (Ga. 2006).

The state decided to retry Johnson, and he was transferred from Georgia State Prison to Houston County Jail (the "Jail") in March 2006 to await trial. The grand jury issued a new indictment in June 2006, but the jury trial, at which Johnson was acquitted, was greatly delayed and did not take place until December 2013, for reasons not known to this panel.

Upon his transfer to the Jail, Johnson was designated a "medium maximum security" detainee and assigned to general population in "H-pod," where he occupied a single-person cell. In May 2009, the Jail changed its pod assignments because particular pods, including H-pod, were reaching capacity. As part of the restructuring, H-pod was reassigned as administrative segregation, which is meant for detainees who cannot get along with others or are required to be by themselves.

Defendant Hays worked at the Jail during the pod restructuring and became chairperson of the Inmate Classification Committee in 2010. She testified that, during the restructuring, detention officers asked the detainees housed in H-pod if they would like to go to general population. According to Hays, Johnson asked to remain in H-pod because he wanted a room by himself. Johnson, however, denies ever being asked to go to the general population or telling Hays or any other detention officer that he wished to remain in H-pod. And the classification records do not reflect that Johnson voluntarily asked to stay in H-pod. Rather, the records simply list his charges-murder, armed robbery, and aggravated battery-as the reasons for his placement.

The Jail periodically conducted inmate-classification reviews. After H-pod's restructuring, Johnson's classification was reviewed three times-on March 12, 2010, June 16, 2010, and January 11, 2011. By the time of the reviews, Hays headed the Classification Committee and therefore determined Johnson's classification. During the January 2011 review, Hays made permanent Johnson's classification in administrative segregation. She listed no reason for the permanent designation. After the permanent designation, Johnson's classification was not reviewed again before trial in December 2013, nearly three years later. Johnson never filed a complaint regarding his confinement in administrative segregation.

As a detainee in administrative segregation, Johnson did not receive the same privileges as detainees in the general population. He was confined to...

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