United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
ANTHONY A. WILLIAMS, JR., Plaintiff,
CAPT. BROWN, M. KARTMAN, LT. CICHANOWICZ, CAPT. HANFELD, CAPT. PRIMMER and GARY BOUGHTON, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
BARBARA B. CRABB, District Judge
plaintiff and prisoner Anthony Williams has filed a complaint
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which he challenges a conduct
report that he received for “inciting a
disturbance.” I understand plaintiff to be raising the
following claims: (1) defendants Brown, Kartman, Hanfeld and
Boughton disciplined him for failing to provide information
regarding an assault by another prisoner, in violation of the
First Amendment; (2) defendant Cichanowiz refused his request
to review evidence before his disciplinary hearing, in
violation of the due process clause; and (3) defendant
Primmer found him guilty without sufficient evidence, in
violation of the due process clause.
has made an initial partial payment of the filing fee in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1), so his complaint
is ready for screening under 28 U.S.C. §§
1915(e)(2) and 1915A. The crux of plaintiff's claim is
that he believes that defendants concluded incorrectly that
he was involved in the assault of another prisoner. However,
even if it is true that plaintiff simply was in the wrong
place at the wrong time when the assault occurred, I cannot
allow him to proceed because he points to no constitutional
error that defendants made in reaching their conclusion.
Accordingly, I conclude that plaintiff has failed to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted.
fairly alleges the following facts in his complaint. I note
that plaintiff cites a number of exhibits in his complaint,
but he did not file those with the court. This did not
prejudice plaintiff because, even without exhibits, I am
required to accept as true all the allegations in this
complaint. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236
Anthony Williams is a prisoner at the Wisconsin Secure
Program Facility, which is in Boscobel, Wisconsin. On May 18,
2016, plaintiff was getting his hair cut at the prison barber
shop. While there, he saw another prisoner he knew named
Wells. Plaintiff shook Wells's hand and asked him how he
was doing. Immediately after walking away, Wells attacked a
third prisoner named Johnson. Plaintiff had nothing to do
with that attack and did not speak to Wells about it.
Brown, a correctional officer, investigated the incident and
spoke to plaintiff. When plaintiff did not provide any
information, Brown stated, “Since you don't want to
tell me, you'll pay.” Brown gave plaintiff a
conduct report for “Inciting a Disturbance and
Assault” in which Brown alleged that a video recording
showed plaintiff and Wells speaking just before the assault.
Brown wrote that plaintiff “must have given an order to
Mr. Wells to attack Mr. Johnson.” Defendant Hanfeld
reviewed the conduct report and concluded that plaintiff
Wells received directions from plaintiff to attack Johnson.
However, Hanfeld did not point to any evidence supporting
that conclusion. Defendant M. Kartman, the security director,
“signed off” on the conduct report.
preparation of his disciplinary hearing, plaintiff asked to
review the video tape, but defendant Cichanowicz denied
plaintiff's request. At the hearing, plaintiff relied on
a statement from Wells, who denied that plaintiff had told
him to attack Johnson. After the hearing, defendant Primmer
found plaintiff guilty, writing that “the fact that
inmate Wells assaults another inmate as soon as inmate
Williams steps away after saying something to him makes it
more likely than not that inmate Williams directed inmate
Wells to assault inmate Johnson.” Plaintiff received a
sentence of 180 days in segregation. Defendant Gary Boughton,
the warden, affirmed the decision.
understand plaintiff's primary claim to be that defendant
Brown “retaliated” against him because Brown
“wanted answers” when Brown interviewed him about
the prisoner assault, but he “didn't know
anything.” Cpt. ¶ 18, dkt. #1. To prevail on a
retaliation claim, a plaintiff must prove three things: (1)
he was engaging in activity protected by the Constitution;
(2) the defendant's conduct was sufficiently adverse to
deter a person of "ordinary firmness" from engaging
in the protected activity in the future; and (3) the
defendant subjected the plaintiff to adverse treatment
because of the plaintiff's constitutionally protected
activity. Gomez v. Randle, 680 F.3d 859, 866-67 (7th
Cir. 2012); Bridges v. Gilbert, 557 F.3d 541, 555-56
(7th Cir. 2009).
not clear what plaintiff believes his protected activity was,
but the only plausible theory is that he believes he had a
First Amendment right not to speak when defendant
Brown asked him questions about the assault on inmate
Johnson. There is authority for that view outside the prison
context, e.g., Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S.
705 (1977); West Virginia State Bd of Education v.
Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), but courts have expressed
skepticism that prisoners have a right against compelled
speech, particularly in the context of a legitimate
investigation. E.g., Clark v. Gipson, No.
13-CV-3012, 2015 WL 328966, at *6 (C.D. Ill. Jan. 26, 2015);
Wilcher v. Raemisch, No. 12-CV-803-JDP, 2014 WL
3509395, at *5 (W.D. Wis. July 15, 2014).
I assume that prisoners might have a right under the First
Amendment to remain silent in some circumstances, this is not
one of them. Although plaintiff does not provide much factual
context in his complaint, he seems to be alleging that
defendant Brown gave him a conduct report for one of two
reasons: (1) Brown believed that plaintiff was involved in
the assault but was refusing to admit it; or (2) Brown
believed that plaintiff had some other information about the
assault but was refusing to share it. Under either of these
scenarios, plaintiff's allegations do not state a claim
upon which relief may be granted under the First Amendment.
defendant Brown gave plaintiff a conduct report out of a
belief that plaintiff was involved in the assault, that is
not a violation of plaintiff's right to free speech, even
if Brown's belief was mistaken. Heffernan v. City of
Paterson, New Jersey, 136 S.Ct. 1412, 1418 (2016)
(adverse act because of “mistaken belief” does
not violate First Amendment). The fact that Brown gave
plaintiff a conduct report despite the lack of a confession