United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ANDREA K. JOHNSTONE, Magistrate Judge.
Jonathan Andrew Perfetto has filed a Complaint (doc. no. 1), alleging violations of his federal constitutional rights and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"). The complaint is before the court for preliminary review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) and LR 4.3(d)(1).
In determining whether a pro se pleading states a claim, the court construes the pleading liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Disregarding any legal conclusions, the court considers whether the factual content in the pleading and inferences reasonably drawn therefrom, taken as true, state a claim to relief. Hernandez-Cuevas v. Taylor, 723 F.3d 91, 102-03 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
I. Claim 1 - Class A Disciplinary Charge Claim 2 - Improper Classification
In June 2012, Perfetto was charged with, and pleaded guilty to a Class A/Major disciplinary infraction of "fighting, " after starting a fight with another inmate. Perfetto received disciplinary sanctions and his classification level was upgraded to C-4. Perfetto subsequently discovered the existence of a Class B/Minor disciplinary infraction for "mutual combat, " which Perfetto felt was a more appropriate charge. Perfetto sought unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea.
Perfetto now alleges that his constitutional rights to due process and not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment rights were violated by his being charged with the more serious offense of "fighting, " and receiving a heightened classification as a result of the severity of that offense. There is no actionable basis for Perfetto's argument that defendants had any obligation to reduce Perfetto's disciplinary charge or to allow him to plead guilty to the lesser charge. Further, inmates have no constitutional right to be placed or maintained in any particular classification level and thus Perfetto's C-4 classification does not give rise to a cognizable claim for relief. See Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 245-46 (1983); Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 225 (1976). Perfetto has not pleaded allegations sufficient to state a claim that the restraints imposed upon him resulted in any "atypical and significant hardship" in relation to "the ordinary incidents of prison life, " or that the restraints "exceed[ed] the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due Process Clause. Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484 (1995). Perfetto has not, in Claims 1 and 2, alleged any facts to support a claim asserting any violation of his constitutional rights. Accordingly, Claims 1 and 2 should be dismissed.
II. Claim 3 - Failure to Follow PPD 5.25
Perfetto alleges that, because he is classified as having "Serious and Persistent Mental Illness" ("SPMI"), New Hampshire Department of Corrections Policy and Procedure Directive ("PPD") 5.25 requires that an appropriate mental health worker review any disciplinary report he receives, and provide input as to the infraction and potential sanctions before the report is submitted for a hearing. Perfetto states that on one occasion in December 2012, he was charged with a disciplinary ticket and no SPMI review occurred. Perfetto states that as a result, he was subject to a one-month delay of his eligibility to be classified from C-4 to C-3. Perfetto alleges that the failure to conduct a SPMI review of that charge therefore violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Perfetto's reference to the Eighth Amendment fails to state a claim for relief, as Perfetto has not alleged facts showing that the conditions imposed upon him in his C-4 status deprived him of the minimum measure of civilized life's necessities. Moreover, Perfetto has no liberty interest in obtaining C-3 classification per se. He has not pleaded allegations sufficient to state a claim that the restraints imposed upon him as a C-4 for one extra month resulted in "atypical and significant hardship" in relation to "the ordinary incidents of prison life, " or that the restraints "exceed[ed] the sentence in such an unexpected manner as to give rise to protection by the Due Process Clause of its own force." Sandin, 515 U.S. at 484. Accordingly, Perfetto has not stated a claim for relief under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, relating to the one-month delay in his eligibility for C-3 classification. Accordingly, Claim 3 should be dismissed.
III. Claim 4 - Double Jeopardy
Perfetto alleges that in January 2013, he was refused C-3 classification due to his December 2012 disciplinary infraction for fighting, and another classification board was set for April 2013. At that time, the classification board again denied him C-3 status due to the December 2012 fighting incident. Perfetto states that he had to spend an additional 60 days in C-4 status beyond what he had expected, and that as a result, he spent nearly a year in the prison's Secure Housing Unit.
Perfetto alleges that these delays violated his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Again, Perfetto has no right to any particular classification status, and thus, cannot assert a constitutional violation for a classification decision that does not violate his underlying sentence, and he has not otherwise pleaded facts showing that he was deprived of humane conditions of ...