United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.
Alfredo Vega, appearing pro se, is an inmate at Green Bay
Correctional Institution. Vega alleges that when he was
housed at Columbia Correctional Institution, defendant prison
officials Lucas Weber and Lindsay Walker conducted a
disciplinary hearing without some of the procedural
safeguards afforded him by prison regulations, which he says
violated his right to due process. Vega has filed a motion
for summary judgment, Dkt. 36, which I will deny because he
fails to show that that he is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.
the following undisputed facts from the parties' summary
judgment materials. Plaintiff Alfredo Vega is a state of
Wisconsin prisoner. The case involves a conduct report that
Vega received for an incident on September 20, 2016, while
Vega was in disciplinary separation at Columbia Correctional
Institution (CCI). Defendants say that Vega, who was placed
in disciplinary segregation at the time, became disruptive,
calling the sergeant on duty in restrictive housing a
“punk ass bitch fag” and covering his cell
window. When staff opened the trap of Vega's cell, they
saw him ingesting small white pills.
disobeyed orders to come to the door, and officers eventually
used incapacitating agents to get Vega to stop consuming the
medication. Vega was sent to the hospital for treatment.
officer prepared a conduct report charging Vega with
disobeying orders, misuse of medication, disruptive conduct,
and threats. Defendants say that Officer Conroy (who is not a
defendant) gave Vega a copy of the conduct report on
September 22, 2016, along with a form explaining the some of
Vega's rights and giving the prisoner the choice of
waiving the hearing. Conroy marked the box “Inmate
refuses to sign.” Dkt. 76-1, at 11. Vega says that he
did not receive a copy of the conduct report. The warden
designated defendant Lucas Weber, the CCI security director,
to assign a hearing officer to conduct the disciplinary
September 27, 2016, Vega was transferred to Wisconsin
Resource Center. Defendant Weber directed defendant Lindsay
Walker, a unit manager at CCI, to go to WRC on October 5 to
hold the hearing for the conduct report. Vega was not given a
staff advocate. At the hearing, Walker reviewed the conduct
report, read it aloud to Vega, and permitted him to make an
oral statement, which she summarized on the hearing form.
Walker also documented a statement from Vega that he
submitted a form asking for witnesses at his hearing-Walker
now says that the request form was “not
received.” Walker did not record any statements by Vega
that he failed to receive a copy of the conduct report.
Walker found Vega guilty of all four counts. Following the
hearing, Walker gave Vega a disposition of 180 days
disciplinary separation plus restitution for his hospital
appealed the decision, arguing in part that he had been
denied the opportunity to have a staff advocate and to call
witnesses. On November 17, 2016, the warden remanded the
matter for rehearing because Vega did not have an advocate,
and because Walker had “no approval of over 120 [days]
disposition.” Dkt. 39-4, at 3. The conduct report was
reheard on January 12, 2017, before a different hearing
officer. Vega was found guilty on all four counts, he
received 180 days of disciplinary separation, and he was
assessed $500 in restitution.
brings claims that defendants Weber and Walker deprived him
of due process at his October 5, 2016 disciplinary hearing.
succeed on his motion for summary judgment, Vega must show
that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that he
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986). “A genuine issue of material fact arises only
if sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists to
permit a jury to return a verdict for that party.”
Brummett v. Sinclair Broad. Grp., Inc., 414 F.3d
686, 692 (7th Cir. 2005). All reasonable inferences from the
facts in the summary judgment record must be drawn in the
nonmoving party's favor. Baron v. City of Highland
Park, 195 F.3d 333, 338 (7th Cir. 1999).
these standards, it can be difficult for a plaintiff to
succeed on a motion for summary judgment. It is not enough
for a plaintiff to provide reasons why he should win. Rather,
the materials that both he and defendants provide must show
that no reasonable jury could do anything other than find in
plaintiff's favor. Vega fails to meet that showing here.
prisoner challenging the process afforded in a prison
disciplinary proceeding must show that: (1) he has a liberty
or property interest with which the state interfered; and (2)
the procedures he was afforded upon that interference were
constitutionally deficient. Ky. Dep't of Corr. v.
Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 460 (1989); Marion v.
Columbia Corr. Inst., 559 F.3d 693, 697 (7th Cir. 2009).
Defendants contend that Vega fails to prove either part of
the standard in this case.
Supreme Court has explained that a prisoner's cognizable
liberty interests “will be generally limited to freedom
from restraint which . . . imposes [an] atypical and
significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the
ordinary incidents of prison life.” Sandin v.
Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 483-484 (1995). “[A] liberty
interest may arise if the length of segregated confinement is
substantial and the record reveals that the conditions of
confinement are unusually harsh.” Marion v.
Columbia Corr. Inst., 559 F.3d 693, 697-98 (7th Cir.
2009). Courts in this circuit have generally concluded that
short-term placements of less than six months do not involve
a liberty interest. Longer periods of segregation do require
inquiry into the conditions to determine if they impose an
“atypical, significant” hardship. Id. at
697 (citing Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209, 214,
224 (2005) (prisoners' liberty interests implicated when
placed in segregation depriving them of virtually all sensory
stimuli or human contact for an indefinite period of time)).
Vega does not address the conditions of his segregation in
his proposed findings of ...