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James-Bey v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

October 14, 2019

N.C. DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY, et al., Defendants.



         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. [Doc. 22]; see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Plaintiff has been granted in forma pauperis status. [Doc. 12].


         Pro se Plaintiff Terrance L. James-Bey, a North Carolina inmate at Marion Correctional Institution (MCI), filed this action on January 22, 2019, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, naming thirteen Defendants. [Doc. 1]. In Plaintiff's original Complaint, Plaintiff, who identifies himself as a “free born Moor, ” alleged that Defendants are “illegally and unlawfully detaining” his “natural person as a ‘Black Political Hostage, '” that he has been assigned to Marion's Rehabilitative Diversion Unit (RDU)[1] as an act of religious persecution, and that Marion officials have confiscated both his personal property (including religious property) and legal papers in retaliation for Plaintiff's complaints against Defendants related to their alleged mistreatment of him based on his religion. [Id. at 3]. Plaintiff, however, did not allege any particular conduct by any of the thirteen Defendants he named in his original Complaint. [See id.]. On initial review of Plaintiff's original Complaint, the Court found that it suffered from numerous deficiencies. The Court instructed the Plaintiff regarding the nature of these deficiencies including, among other things that:

Plaintiff is placed on notice that he may not bring unrelated claims against unrelated parties in a single action. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a), 20(a)(2); George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 2007) (noting that “[u]nrelated claims against different defendants belong in different suits, ” so as to prevent prisoners from dodging the fee payment or three-strikes provisions in the Prison Litigation Reform Act). Plaintiff may only bring a claim against multiple defendants as long as (1) the claim arises out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences; and (2) there are common questions of law or fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2).

         The Court also instructed the Plaintiff that, to the extent Plaintiff had named individuals as defendants solely based on their supervisory positions, these defendants are subject to dismissal. See Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978) (stating that under § 1983, liability is personal in nature, and the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply). [Doc. 18 at 3]. The Court further instructed that the Plaintiff must allege how each individual Defendant personally participated in the alleged violations of constitutional rights. [Doc. 18 at 3].

         The Court allowed the Plaintiff 30 days to correct the deficiencies and to file an amended complaint in accordance with the Court's Order. [Doc. 18]. The Plaintiff timely filed an Amended Complaint. [Doc. 22].

         In his Amended Complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff claims violations of “Article 6, Sec. 2, U.S. Const.; U.N. Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and, First, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Bill of Rights.” [Doc. 22 at 3]. He names the following individuals as Defendants, [2] both in their individual and official capacities: (1) FNU Corpening, identified as the Superintendent/Warden at MCI; (2) FNU Hergenmother, identified as a sergeant officer at MCI; (3) FNU Neal, identified as correctional officer at MCI; (4) Robert T. Barker, identified as a disciplinary hearing officer at MCI; (5) Kimberly Grande, identified as the Executive Director of the Grievance Resolution Board for NCDPS; (6) Kenneth Lassiter, identified as the Director of Prisons; (7) Monica Bond, identified as Chief Disciplinary Hearing Officer; (8) Patricia McEntire, identified as Unit Manager of D-Unit and MCI; (9) FNU Nichols, identified as sergeant officer at MCI; (10) Thomas Hamilton, identified as Unit Manager of E-Unit at MCI; (11) Angela Dellaripa, identified as a grievance examiner for NCDPS; (12) Faustina Brown, identified as a grievance manager for NCDPS; and (13) Wakenda Greene, identified as a grievance manager for NCDPS.

         Plaintiff's claims are made without reference to any particular alleged Constitutional violation. Plaintiff's claims generally relate to the consequences and incidents of Plaintiff's Security Risk Group (SRG) classification and placement in the RDU program at MCI, particularly in relation to his self-proclaimed membership in the Moorish Science Temple. Plaintiff avers:

In violation of Article 6, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution; the U.N. Declaration On the Rights of Indigenous People; and the 1st, 4th, 9th and 10th Bill of Rights, along with the Aid and Assistance of Judge Frank D. Whitney, the following Defendants have continued in a campaign of provocation, Harassment and Religious Persecution because of my National Origins, Race and Faith in the Moorish Science Temple, while using the so-called RDU Program as a cover for their criminal and liable conduct.

[Doc. 22 at 6]. Plaintiff then asserts a laundry list of claims. [See id. at 6-10]. These include claims that (1) Defendants Hergenmother and Grande confiscated two large manila envelopes of Plaintiff's legal and religious materials; (2) Defendants Barker, Bond, and Lassiter “denied evidence and witness statements” during the DHO process (related to the seized envelopes) and found the Plaintiff guilty based solely on the statements of reporting officers; (3) Defendants Corpening, Lassiter, and McEntire fabricated excuses to cancel “all” Moorish Science services and ordered staff to persecute the Plaintiff by fabricating offenses against him; (4) Defendants Hamilton and Corpening subjected the Plaintiff to arbitrary punishment, holding him in long-term confinement without notice or review and arbitrarily labeling the Plaintiff a “non-participant in RDU;” (5) Defendant Neal confiscated all of Plaintiff's religious materials on February 11, 2019 and Defendants Barker, Bond, and Lassiter “supported and encouraged this abuse of authority;” (6) Defendants Hamilton and Corpening intercepted and withheld packages mailed to the Plaintiff as a result of his RDU non-participant status; (7) Defendants Nichols, Hamilton, and Corpening “tampered with outgoing mail;” (8) Defendant Nichols has targeted outgoing mail addressed with certain Moorish American identifiers and had sanctions imposed against Plaintiff for “engaging the UCC process” under “gang participation;” (9) Defendants Corpening, Hamilton, and McEntire provided Defendant Nichols and other staff members unmonitored access to prisoner mail, allowing Defendant Nichols to retrieve the Plaintiff's letters without justification and to harass the Plaintiff without justification; and (10) Defendants Lassiter, Grande, Dellaripa, Brown, and Greene conspired and colluded with respect to “all of the above detailed acts, they all being notified directly or through the Grievance Process.” [Doc. 22 at 6-9].


         The Court must review the Complaint to determine whether it is subject to dismissal on the grounds that it is “frivolous or malicious [or] fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted.” 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Furthermore, § 1915A requires an initial review of a “complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity, ” and the court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         In its frivolity review, this Court must determine whether the Complaint raises an indisputably meritless legal theory or is founded upon clearly baseless factual contentions, such as fantastic or delusional scenarios. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327-28 (1989). Furthermore, a pro se complaint must be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). However, the liberal construction requirement will not permit a district court to ignore a clear failure to allege facts in his ...

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