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Medina v. United States

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

November 5, 2019

SAMUEL MEDINA, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          FRANK D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on initial review of the Complaint, (Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff has filed an Application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 4).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Pro se Plaintiff purports to file a civil rights suit pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) and the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671, et seq., (“FTCA”). He names as Defendants the United States and “John Does 1-99.” (Doc. No. 1 at 1). The Complaint addresses incidents that allegedly occurred at the Buncombe County Detention Facility (“BCDF”) in Asheville, North Carolina, pending federal criminal charges.[1] He alleges claims pursuant to the FTCA and Bivens for the use of solitary confinement to extort a plea of guilty and to impose extrajudicial punishment, and for conversion.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was jailed in BCDF on federal criminal charges in April 2016. He repeatedly asked his public defender for a bond hearing, but he was told that counsel was waiting to review discovery which was provided to counsel soon after the commencement of federal criminal charges. Plaintiff was taken from BCDF to a bond hearing on July 27, 2016. Before and during the hearing, Plaintiff asked counsel to request reasonable bail so he could remain free until trial in order to assist his attorney, access the law, and mount a reasonable defense regarding criminal liability and sentencing. Counsel told Plaintiff that a request for bail would make the Government angry with him and that it was best if he said he did not want a bond hearing. Plaintiff nevertheless told counsel to request reasonable bail and counsel did so.

         Immediately upon returning from the bond hearing on July 27, BCDF guards told Plaintiff that he had five minutes to get his property together. Plaintiff packed his property without knowing the reason for the order. He was immediately escorted to solitary confinement. Plaintiff made numerous inquiries about the reason for being placed in solitary and made written administrative requests.

         Plaintiff's lawyer came to meet with Plaintiff a few days later with a plea offer. Counsel said he did not know why Plaintiff was in solitary, but that if he signed a plea deal, his “trouble” would go away. (Doc. No. 1 at 2). Plaintiff understood “trouble” to mean being locked up in solitary confinement and otherwise abused or treated worse than other inmates. (Id.). Counsel told Plaintiff during that meeting that, if he did not accept the plea offer, his situation would only get worse. Plaintiff believed that counsel was telling the truth. Plaintiff chose to plead guilty within about two weeks of the bond hearing specifically for the purpose of alleviating solitary confinement.

         Plaintiff is unlawfully being denied access to state law by the “Department of Justice - Federal Bureau of Prisons.” (Doc. No. 1 at 2). Plaintiff is also being denied access to a reasonable word processor and other office equipment and supplies that would “allow him to craft creditable legal documents.” (Id.). He believes these denials are done for the purpose and with the effect of denying prison inmates reasonable access to the courts. All facts necessary to establish the legal foundation for an FTCA claim about extortion of a guilty plea are in existence.

         Despite Plaintiff's guilty plea, he was kept in solitary confinement for approximately nine more months. This extended solitary cause Plaintiff serious injury and damage. The United States “and the responsible employees” were well aware of the damage caused by solitary confinement. (Id.). The Government has promulgated guidelines for the use of solitary confinement. Plaintiff's solitary confinement was a “flagrant violation” of numerous federal rules and guidelines. (Id.). The extended solitary confinement was the result Plaintiff hoped to avoid by pleading guilty. The use of solitary confinement “for gratuitous cruelty amounts to false imprisonment.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement “at the specific request of persons employed by the U.S. Marshals Service.” (Id.). This punishment amounts to false imprisonment, cruel and unusual punishment, abuse of official powers, violation of due process, violation of the right to a jury trial and proof of the facts, and violation of other laws and regulations. Plaintiff has not been told who gave the orders to place him in solitary but will amend his Complaint after he learns their identities during discovery.

         Plaintiff was never given a copy of the rules, regulations, or contract with the U.S. Marshals service so that he could “effectively pursue his legal rights and terminate the solitary confinement.” (Id.). The solitary confinement imposed on Plaintiff violated “well known rules and protocols of the U.S. Department of Justice … and or its subsidiary the Federal Bureau of Prisons …, and of the U.S. Marshals Service.” (Doc. No. 1 at 3). The U.S. Marshals Service is “duty bound to contract with only the detention facilities that comply with the requirements of the American Correctional Association (ACA).” (Id.). The use of extended solitary confinement without due process or adequate legal reason is a flagrant violation of the ACA as set forth in the Standards of Adult Correctional Institutions, 4th Edition. Plaintiff was allowed out of solitary confinement only three times per week, for one hour each time, and had to get a shower, do any legal work, make calls, exercise, and attend to all other matters during that period.

         This wrongful conduct is part of a pattern and practice of using terror against criminal defendants, especially those who stand on their legal rights or attempt to do so. The parties who participated in the wrongful conduct against Plaintiff intended to use Plaintiff as an example, to terrorize other criminal defendants into waiving substantial legal rights, abandoning claims for the recovery of seized property, or otherwise asserting and vindicating rights secured by the constitution and laws of the states and United States. The perpetrators of these acts “intended to retaliate against Plaintiff for peaceful petition of grievances, both to terrorize Plaintiff and to ‘send a message' to other criminal defendants who might wish to honestly legitimately exercise their legal rights of peaceful petition for the redress of grievances.” (Doc. No. 1 at 3).

         At the time of his arrest, Plaintiff was carrying $2, 100 in his pants pocket. The officer who patted Plaintiff down took the money and did not give Plaintiff a receipt to acknowledge the confiscation. The seizure of property without a receipt amounts to conversion. Plaintiff believes that one of the reasons that Plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement was to allow a “corrupt and dishonest federal employee to steal money from his pockets and avoid liability, complaint, investigation, punishment for public corruption, or any other repercussions for using his position and privileges for his own unlawful personal enrichment.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff suffered injury and damage flowing from the solitary confinement, specifically, serious, chronic pain in his right shoulder, right hip, and right knee. He also suffered “serious emotional and psychic anguish and distress” as a result of the solitary confinement. (Id.).

         Plaintiff states that he “proceeds on a theory of negligence as to all counts, as well as any other claim stated or reasonably disclosed by the alleged facts.” (Doc. No. 1 at 1). Plaintiff also alleges that he has exhausted all available remedies. With regards to the FTCA claims, Plaintiff alleges that he submitted an FTCA tort claim, that the U.S. Marshals Service acknowledged its receipt on November 3, 2017 and that the time to respond has expired.

         II. APPLICATION TO ...


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