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Fields v. Achterberg

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

March 26, 2018

MAFAYETTE FIELDS, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON ACHTERBERG, KIM KANNENBERG, JOE THYNE, and TIMOTHY DOUMA, Defendants.[1]

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge

         Pro se plaintiff Mafayette Fields is a prisoner in the custody of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC). I granted him leave to proceed on due process claims against defendants Kim Kannenberg, Joe Thyne, and Timothy Douma concerning a disciplinary hearing at New Lisbon Correctional Institution (NLCI) about Fields's alleged possession of a contraband flash drive. I also allowed Fields to proceed on First Amendment retaliation and access-to-the-courts claims against defendant Jason Achterberg for Achterberg's role in blocking Fields's attempt to file a certiorari action challenging the outcome of the disciplinary hearing. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, Dkt. 42 and Dkt. 47, and several related motions. Because the undisputed facts show that Fields received constitutionally sufficient process at his disciplinary hearing and that Achterberg did not intentionally or recklessly prevent Fields from filing a certiorari action, I will grant summary judgment in defendants' favor and close the case.

         PRELIMINARY MATTERS

          Before turning to the summary judgment motions, I will address the several related motions.

         A. Default judgment

          Fields asks the court to enter default judgment against defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 55 or as a sanction under Rule 16(f) or Rule 37(b)(2) because defendants moved for leave to raise an exhaustion defense in their summary judgment motion, long after the deadline for filing a summary judgment motion on exhaustion had passed. Dkt. 37; Dkt. 39; Dkt. 66. I will deny Fields's motions. Rule 55(a) provides that default must be entered against a defendant who fails “to plead or otherwise defend.” Defendants have answered Fields's complaint and otherwise defended themselves, so default is inappropriate under Rule 55. Rules 16(f) and 37(b)(2) allow the entry of default judgment as a sanction against a party who fails to obey a court order. Defendants have not failed to obey a court order. Rather, they asked the court to modify the scheduling order, as called for by Rule 16(b)(4). (Because defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the merits, I will not reach the exhaustion issue.) So I will deny Fields's motions for default judgment.

         B. Filing surveillance video under seal

         Defendants ask the court for leave to file under seal surveillance camera footage that they say shows Fields inserting a flash drive into a computer. Dkt. 50. They argue that allowing Fields to view the footage would pose a security risk, as Fields would learn the scope of the surveillance camera's view-the same rationale they put forth for not allowing Fields to view the footage before or during his conduct report disciplinary hearing. Fields does not oppose defendants' motion to seal, and as discussed below, their security concerns are rational, so I will grant the motion.

         C. Staying deadlines

          Finally, defendants ask the court to stay all deadlines in the case pending a summary judgment decision. Dkt. 70. Because I will grant summary judgment in defendants' favor on all claims, I will deny their motion to stay the deadlines as moot.

         UNDISPUTED FACTS

         The following facts are undispited except where noted.

         Fields was housed at the New Lisbon Correctional Institution (NLCI) from October 2010 to December 2014. On April 1, 2014, Sergeant Quigley issued conduct report number 2369865 accusing Fields of lying and possessing contraband in violation of Administrative Code section DOC 303.27 and 303.47. See Dkt. 51-1, at 1-2. In the report, Quigley alleges that Fields inserted a flash drive into a computer in the Badger State Industries (BSI) workshop, where Fields had a prison job, and later denied doing so. Specifically, Quigley stated that he asked Fields about a flash drive on March 25, and “Fields denied any knowledge of it.” Id. at 1. Quigley then checked security camera footage against the computer's system log and found that a USB storage device had been installed on the computer at a certain date and time, and that Fields was “doing something with the back of the computer” at that same date and time. Id. Quigley explained that the system log “time is not exact.” Id. at 2.

         The report notified Fields that a disciplinary hearing would be held on April 9 and that if found guilty, Fields could be sent to disciplinary segregation for 90 days. A staff advocate was appointed to assist Fields at the hearing. Fields says that he told his staff advocate that he wanted to view the security camera footage and a still image taken from the footage, but he was not allowed to do so; defendants argue that Fields never asked to view the footage, but the evidence they provide ...


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