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Chaziza v. Stammerjohn

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 7, 2019

AHUD CHAZIZA, Plaintiff
v.
STAMMERJOHN, et. al., Defendants

          REPORT & RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE RE: ECF NOS. 29, 39

          William G. Cobb United States Magistrate Judge.

         This Report and Recommendation is made to the Honorable Miranda M. Du, United States District Judge. The action was referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and the Local Rules of Practice, LR 1B 1-4.

         Before the court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 29, 29-1 to 29-8.) Plaintiff filed a response and Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 37, 38, 38-1 to 38-9, 39, 40, 40-1 to 40-9). Defendants filed a reply in support of their motion (ECF No. 41) and response to Plaintiff's motion (ECF No. 42). Plaintiff filed a reply in support of his motion. (ECF No. 43.)

         After a thorough review, it is recommended that Defendants' motion be granted, and Plaintiff's motion be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an inmate in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC). He is represented by counsel Mark Wray, Esq., and is proceeding with this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Am. Compl., ECF No. 9.) The events giving rise to this action took place while Plaintiff was housed at Lovelock Correctional Center (LCC). (Id.) Defendants are Deputy Director Dwayne Deal, Associate Warden William Sandie and Correctional Caseworker Colette Stammerjohn. On screening, Plaintiff was allowed to proceed with due process claims that Defendants failed to properly calculated his statutory credits under Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 209.4465 and the 2007 amendments from Assembly Bill (AB) 510 and case law interpreting the statute. Plaintiff was convicted under two criminal counts and was sentenced under each to a term of imprisonment of 60 to 80 months, to run consecutively. Plaintiff alleges that as a result of the failure to properly calculate his statutory credits he was imprisoned for an extra 85 days as to Count 1, and his parole eligibility deadline should have been advanced as to Count 2. Plaintiff alleges that he is not seeking restoration of statutory time credits but does seek monetary damages for the alleged constitutional violation.

         Defendants move for summary judgment, arguing: (1) Plaintiff's claim is Heck barred as he failed to obtain favorable termination in a proceeding that would have shown he was entitled to 85 credits applied to his first consecutive sentence; (2) to the extent he alleges he was denied credits applied to the front-end of his second consecutive sentence, no state law authority clearly entitled prisoners to a front-end application of credits in the parole-eligibility context until late 2017, and no known court order entitled Plaintiff to a recalculation until early 2018, which prison officials timely complied with; (3) Plaintiff did not sustain a cognizable injury because his allegations that he could have been granted parole had he been seen by the board earlier are speculative (he was seen by the parole board soon after his credit recalculation for the front-end of his second consecutive sentence and was denied parole); (4) Deal, Sandie and Stammerjohn did not personally participate in the constitutional violation because Sandie and Stammerjohn were merely responding to Plaintiff's grievances and Deal was not on notice of the need to recalculate Plaintiff's credits until late 2017, and could not have been on notice of Plaintiff's specific entitlement to recalculation until early 2018; and (5) Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity because Defendants were not on clear notice that their actions violated Plaintiff's constitutional rights.

         In his partial motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff asks the court to enter partial summary judgment in his favor as to liability because Defendants held him in custody on Count 1 of his sentence beyond the expiration of his sentence when they refused to extend him statutory credits, and then refused to extend proper statutory credits as to count 2 of his sentence, depriving him of having his parole eligibility date advanced and to parole hearings.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The legal standard governing this motion is well settled: a party is entitled to summary judgment when “the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). An issue is “genuine” if the evidence would permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). A fact is “material” if it could affect the outcome of the case. Id. at 248 (disputes over facts that might affect the outcome will preclude summary judgment, but factual disputes which are irrelevant or unnecessary are not considered). On the other hand, where reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue, summary judgment is not appropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         “The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials when there is no dispute as to the facts before the court.” Northwest Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24 (purpose of summary judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims"); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252 (purpose of summary judgment is to determine whether a case "is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law"). In considering a motion for summary judgment, all reasonable inferences are drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. In re Slatkin, 525 F.3d 805, 810 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); Kaiser Cement Corp. v. Fischbach & Moore Inc., 793 F.2d 1100, 1103 (9th Cir. 1986). That being said, "if the evidence of the nonmoving party "is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-250 (citations omitted). The court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth or to make credibility determinations. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 249, 255; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court applies a burden-shifting analysis. “When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, ‘it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.'… In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine [dispute] of fact on each issue material to its case.” C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rest., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal citations omitted). In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party cannot establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will have the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986).

         If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine dispute exists as to a material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The opposing party need not establish a genuine dispute of material fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (quotation marks and citation omitted). The nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that shows a genuine dispute of material fact for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Facts

         The material facts are not in dispute.

         Plaintiff's offense date was in 2004. He was arrested on October 18, 2006, and has been in custody ever since (within NDOC since May 2009).

         In the 2007 legislative session, AB 510, codified as amendments to NRS 209.4465, was enacted into law. It is titled: "Credits for offenders sentenced for crime committed on or after July 17, 1997." As amended NRS 209.4465(1) increased the statutory time credits for an offender sentenced to prison for a crime committed on or after July 17, 1997 (and who does not have a serious infraction and has performed the duties assigned in a faithful, orderly and peaceable manner) from 10 days for each month served to 20 days for each month served. Section 7 provides: "Except as otherwise provided in subsections 8 and 9, credits earned pursuant to this section: (a) Must be deducted from the maximum term or the maximum aggregate term imposed by the sentence, as applicable; and (b) Apply to eligibility for parole unless the offender was sentence pursuant to a statute which specifies a minimum sentence that must be served before a person becomes eligible for parole."[1]

         On May 11, 2009, Plaintiff was sentenced to 60 to 80 months for Count 1 (first degree kidnapping) and 60 to 80 months for Count 2 (robbery), to run consecutively.

         On April 26, 2014, Plaintiff discharged the term of incarceration imposed under Count 1 and began serving his consecutive term under Count 2.

         On December 2, 2015, Plaintiff obtained a copy of his "Credit History by Sentence." At that point, he noticed that his sentence for Count 1 had been credited for 10 days of statutory credits from October 17, 2006 through June 30, 2007, for a total of 85 days. Plaintiff contends that he should have been credited for 20 days of statutory credit for each month served, for a total of 170 statutory credits. He maintains he had no serious infraction and performed his duties as a prisoner in a faithful, orderly and peaceable manner, and so is entitled to the statutory credits in NRS 209.4465(1).

         On April 11, 2016, Plaintiff sent a letter to the timekeeper at NDOC asking that he be given his 85 days in credits toward his first sentence under Vonseydewitz v. Warden, No. 66159, 2015 WL 3936827 (Nev. June 24, 2015); that the start date of his second sentence be adjusted accordingly; and, that the statutory credits also be deducted for the second sentence for his parole eligibility date. (ECF No. 29-3 at 16-18.) NDOC's Offender Management Division (OMD) sent him a form letter in response on April 18, 2016, stating that the unpublished Vonseydewitz ...


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