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Wood v. Cook

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

March 9, 2018

BRIAN LEE WOOD, Plaintiff,
DOUG COOK et al., Defendants.


          HONORABLE ROBERT J. SHELBY United States District Court Judge.

         In his Complaint, (Docket No. 5), and Amended Complaint, (Docket No. 9)--the latter of which the Court construes as an addendum to the Complaint--Plaintiff brings claims of inadequate medical treatment and an unconstitutional disciplinary process. The medical claims are not addressed in this Order. The claim about the disciplinary process is against Defendant Cook, the disciplinary officer at Utah State Prison. Specifically, Plaintiff requests that this Court overturn two civil disciplinary decisions finding him guilty of possessing contraband in his cell. Defendant Cook moves for judgment on the pleadings.

         Plaintiff's arguments attacking the disciplinary process are (1) Defendant Cook should have adopted Plaintiff's interpretation of the facts; (2) Plaintiff lacked representation; (3) due process was not observed; and (4) the two fines assessed, totaling $600, were excessive.

         First, Defendant Cook's rejection of Plaintiff's interpretation of the facts is not a federal constitutional violation. Second, Plaintiff has no constitutional right to an attorney in a prison disciplinary process. See Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570 (1974). Third, in this situation, federal due process required that Plaintiff have notice, an opportunity to be heard, and a decision based on the evidence. See Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 476 (1983). The copies of the disciplinary reports filed with the Complaint confirm that due process was adequately observed. (See Docket No. 6, at 5-9).

         The one argument that Defendant Cook did not fully address is whether the fines assessed here were constitutionally excessive. The Court thus denies dismissal of this claim.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant Cook's Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. (Docket No. 44.) The only constitutional claim remaining against Defendant Cook in this case is that the fines he assessed were excessive.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that within sixty days Defendant Cook must file a motion for summary judgment on the excessive-fine claim. Plaintiff will then have thirty days to respond. For Plaintiffs information and convenience, the Court has attached the procedural rules governing summary-judgment practice.

         Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Current through changes received January 18, 2018)

         Rule 56. Summary Judgment

         (a) Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment. A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense - or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court should state on the record the reasons for granting or denying the motion.

         (b) Time to File a Motion. Unless a different time is set by local rule or the court orders otherwise, a party may file a motion for summary judgment at any time until 30 days after the close of all discovery.

         (c) Procedures.

         (1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.

         (2) Objection That a Fact Is Not Supported by Admissible Evidence. A party may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.

         (3) Materials Not Cited. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.

         (4) Affidavits or Declarations. An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the ...

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