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Jackson v. Schulz

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

June 14, 2018




         Plaintiff Sylvester Jackson is proceeding pro se in this case on claims that defendants Sergeant Mario Garcia, Captain Casey Jensen, Phil Schulz and Captain Stephen Foster violated his constitutional rights by giving him a conduct report in retaliation for protected speech and then imposing a severe punishment on him and transferring him to a new unit because of his race and protected speech. Now before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. Dkt. #34. After reviewing the undisputed evidence and the parties' arguments, I conclude that plaintiff has not submitted sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find in his favor on any of his claims. Therefore, I am granting defendants' motion for summary judgment in full.

         From defendants' proposed findings of fact and plaintiff's responses, I find the following to be material and undisputed.


         A. The Parties

         At all times relevant to this case, plaintiff Sylvester Jackson was housed at Jackson Correctional Institution, where all of the defendants worked. Defendant Mario Garcia was a correctional sergeant responsible for security on the Melrose Unit during the second shift. Defendant Casey Jensen was a supervising officer 2, also known as a captain, in charge of general security during the second shift. Defendant Stephen Foster was also a captain and was in charge of the Segregation Unit. Foster was assigned to hear most major conduct reports issued at Jackson Correctional in 2010. Defendant Phil Schulz was a unit manager who oversaw operations and programming on the Melrose and Oxbow Units.

         B. Plaintiff's Complaints about Defendant Garcia on October 13, 2010

         The parties dispute whether plaintiff complained to defendants Schulz and Jensen on October 13, 2010 about defendant Garcia. Plaintiff says that on or about October 13, 2010, he spoke with both Schulz and Jensen about alleged unprofessional and racist behavior exhibited by Garcia. In particular, plaintiff says that he and several other inmates told Schulz and Jensen that Garcia acted unprofessionally and had slammed a black inmate into the wall. Plaintiff did not file a written complaint alleging that Garcia was unprofessional or racist.

         Neither Schulz nor Jensen remembers plaintiff complaining that Garcia exhibited unprofessional or racist behavior. Nor do they remember having any discussion with Garcia about complaints made by plaintiff or any other inmate. Garcia denies that anyone ever told him that plaintiff had made any complaints about him.

         C. October 15, 2010 Incident and Conduct Report

         On October 15, 2010, plaintiff went to the dayroom to use the microwave. He brought three packages of soup and intended to heat up water to prepare them. Under institution rules, inmates are permitted to use the dayroom microwave to heat food, but they must remain seated in the dayroom while the microwave is running. Additionally, defendant Garcia sometimes asks inmates to prepare food in their cells before bringing it to the microwave to be heated in order to reduce messes in the dayroom and prevent lines at the microwave.

         When plaintiff arrived at the microwave, he began emptying soup packets into a bowl. Defendant Garcia asked plaintiff over the speaker system to report to the officer's station. Garcia then told plaintiff not to prepare food at the microwave. Plaintiff responded that he was not preparing food, he was just making soup. Plaintiff then returned to the microwave and emptied the last soup into his bowl. Garcia called plaintiff again and told him to stop preparing food at the microwave. Plaintiff tried to tell Garcia that he was just heating up water, but Garcia continued to call plaintiff up to the officer station. After Garcia called plaintiff a third time, plaintiff asked Garcia why he was “trying to start an incident” and that Garcia should “leave [him] alone” and “find someone else to pick on.” Garcia then told plaintiff he was going to be issued a conduct report and that plaintiff was to return to his room. Plaintiff told Garcia to “get a life.” Garcia asked plaintiff what he had said, and plaintiff repeated “get a life” to Garcia. Several other inmates were in the dayroom at the time. (According to plaintiff, the other inmates questioned why Garcia was picking on plaintiff so much, when plaintiff was not doing anything wrong. According to Garcia, the other inmates laughed when plaintiff said “get a life.”) Later that day, defendant Garcia issued plaintiff conduct report #2208444 for “disobeying orders, ” “disrespect” and “disruptive conduct.” Dkt. #37-1. Those three offenses are known as the “three Ds.”

         Neither defendant Schulz nor defendant Jensen witnessed the interaction and neither was involved in Garcia's decision to issue a conduct report to plaintiff. Conduct reports are reviewed by a supervising officer to insure that the written description on the report supports the charge. It is not the reviewing supervisor's role to investigate the charges or to verify their truthfulness. As a supervising officer, defendant Jensen may have reviewed the conduct report Garcia drafted, but he does not recall whether he reviewed that particular conduct report. Nothing on the conduct report itself indicates which supervisor reviewed it. After a conduct report is reviewed by a supervising officer, it is forwarded to the security director. The conduct report at issue here was sent to the security director on October 18, 2010.

         Under the regulations set forth at Wis.Stat. § DOC 303.68, the security director determines whether the conduct report should be processed as either a “minor offense” or “major offense.” (Some violations are automatically categorized as “major offenses, ” § 303.71(2), but most are not.) All violations categorized by the security director or regulation as “major offenses” are scheduled for a disciplinary hearing in front of a hearing officer unless the inmate waives the hearing. Additionally, if a conduct report is categorized as a “major offense” conduct report, the inmate is removed from his housing unit and placed in temporary lockup status in the segregation unit pending the disciplinary hearing. In this instance, the security director characterized plaintiff's conduct report #2208444 as a “major offense, ” a disciplinary hearing was scheduled and plaintiff was moved to temporary lockup.

         If the security director had characterized plaintiff's conduct report as “minor, ” defendant Schulz, as the unit manager, would have held an informal meeting with plaintiff and decided what discipline should be imposed on him. However, for major offenses, Schulz is not involved in the disciplinary hearings or in deciding what discipline should be imposed. (According to plaintiff, Schulz has the authority to review “major” conduct reports and reduce them to “minor” conduct reports before they are sent to the security director and has done so for other inmates in the past. Plaintiff cites no admissible evidence to support his contention and Schulz denies that he has this authority. Regardless, there is no evidence that Schulz saw the ...

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