United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
DYLAN J. SPARKMAN, Plaintiff,
MEIGHAN ROBBINS, CHRISTINE SLAUGHTER, MYRON BEESON, and REGINALD MICHAEL, Defendants.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES
Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Dylan
Sparkman's Complaint (Doc. 2) alleging violations of his
Fourteenth Amendment due process rights under the United
States Constitution. The Complaint fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted and therefore this matter
should be dismissed.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
Dylan Sparkman is proceeding in forma pauperis and without
counsel. He is incarcerated at the Montana State Prison (MSP)
in Deer Lodge, Montana. The named Defendants are Meighan
Robbins, Christine Slaughter, Myron Beeson, and Reginald
Michael. (Complaint, Doc. 2 at 1.)
Statement of Facts
November, 2017, Mr. Sparkman was housed in MSP low-security
and worked for the low-security dining services. He was
participating in sex-offender treatment, which the Board of
Pardons and Parole required him to complete before he could
be eligible for parole.
November 15, 2017, Mr. Sparkman was at work in the
low-security dining-hall. At approximately 3:40 p.m., he was
carrying dirty dishes into the dish-tank area, when he passed
by Defendant Meighan Robbins, a mental health counselor at
MSP. Mr. Sparkman accidently bumped into Ms. Robbins'
shoulder. He alleges the contact was very minor and he
immediately apologized to Ms. Robbins. Ms. Robbins replied
“excuse me” and left without further comment.
eighty minutes later, Mr. Sparkman was asked by his boss to
return to his housing unit. Upon arrival at the housing unit,
the on-duty sergeant put Mr. Sparkman into handcuffs and
brought him to Locked-Housing (punitive segregation). Mr.
Sparkman asked several correctional officers why he was being
taken to Locked-Housing but no answer was provided. At
approximately 9:00 p.m., Mr. Sparkman was served a major
disciplinary infraction for a #4111-Assault on a Staff
Member, regarding the earlier incident with Ms. Robbins.
November 21, 2017, Disciplinary Hearing Officer Christine
Slaughter conducted a disciplinary hearing. Mr. Sparkman read
a written statement to DHO Slaughter explaining his version
of the incident. DHO Slaughter told Mr. Sparkman that she
reviewed the video of the incident and spoke with Ms.
Robbins. Ms. Robbins admitted that Mr. Sparkman apologized
immediately and that she “thought nothing of it”
(regarding the shoulder-bump”). DHO Slaughter told Mr.
Sparkman that when reviewing the video, the contact appeared
to be minor, but she did not think it was accidental. She
indicated that even though the contact was slight, that was
enough to find him guilty. She also stated that after the
shoulder bump, Mr. Sparkman walked behind Ms. Robbins across
the chow hall and stood behind Ms. Robbins for a few minutes.
Mr. Sparkman explained he was walking behind Ms. Robbins to
get the gloves he needed to serve dinner to the inmates. He
told DHO Slaughter that he stood behind Ms. Robbins because
she was talking to the Low-Side Dining Supervisor and there
was not enough room for him to move past both Ms. Robbins and
the supervisor. DHO Slaughter commented that Mr. Sparkman
continued to wait even though another inmate walked past Ms.
Robbins. Mr. Sparkman explained he was waiting patiently for
Ms. Robbins to move because he did not want to risk bumping
into her. Mr. Sparkman explained that he did eventually walk
past Ms. Robbins, after waiting for about a minute. He stated
that when the shoulder bump occurred, he was working, had
dirty dishes in his hands, and was putting those dirty dishes
into the dish-tank. Mr. Sparkman said Ms. Robbins was walking
on the wrong side of the hall when the incident occurred (a
railing separates the hall into two sides; one side is for
entering the hall and the other is for exiting). He explained
that Ms. Robbins entered the cafeteria through the exit side
of the hall which is next to the dirty dish slot that Mr.
Sparkman was using.
Sparkman told DHO Slaughter that he believes the write-up
should be dropped entirely or at least be dropped from a
major infraction to a minor infraction. He argued that he was
never given a warning, that Ms. Robbins did not attempt to
correct the behavior before issuing the disciplinary
infraction, he did not know he was doing anything wrong
because the rule was not properly explained, and he did not
have advanced notice nor reason to believe that his conduct
Slaughter found Mr. Sparkman guilty of a #4111-Assault on a
Staff Member and sentenced him to 20 days in punitive
segregation. She also referred him to the Unit Management
Team which resulted in a security reclassification. Mr.
Sparkman argued that the punishment was too severe for such a
minor event, but DHO Slaughter would not reconsider the
Sparkman appealed the disciplinary decision arguing there was
insufficient evidence and documentation to support the
finding, that disciplinary procedures were not followed, and
the sanction is excessive.
November 22, 2017, the Unit Management Team reclassified Mr.
Sparkman. As a result of the reclassification, Mr. Sparkman
was terminated from sex offender treatment (which was
required before Mr. Sparkman could become parole eligible),
he was moved from low-security housing to the more
restrictive high-security housing, he lost his job with
dining services, and he lost his “clear conduct”
which is a factor considered by the parole board.
November 29, 2017, Mr. Sparkman signed the reclassification
and appealed the decision. On November 30, 2017, Warden
Beeson decided Mr. Sparkman's appeal and found that there
was insufficient evidence to support the guilty finding for
the #4111-Assault on a Staff Member. Warden Beeson reduced
the violation from #4111-Assault on a Staff Member to
#4235-Threatening Any Other Person.
December 5, 2017, Mr. Sparkman was moved from punitive
segregation into high-security housing. He received Warden
Beeson's appeal decision on December 12, 2017. Even
though Warden Beeson claimed to “reduce” the
infraction level, none of Mr. Sparkman's liberty
interests were restored nor were any of the punishments
reduced. Mr. Sparkman immediately wrote to Warden Beeson and
asked to reappeal the decision regarding the
“reduction” from a #4111 to a #4235. Warden
Beeson replied to the Mr. ...