United States District Court, D. Arizona
Murray Snow, Chief United States District Judge.
before the Court is Defendants James MacDonald, Gary L.
Ralston, Donald Justus Jr., and Ashlee Pratt's Second
Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 173). For the following
reasons, the Court will deny the motion.
December 2017, this Court issued an order that granted
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment in part.
Specifically, the Court granted the motion for Defendant
Pratt as to Plaintiff's First Amendment claims, and for
Defendant Justus as to all claims. (Doc. 96). In May 2018,
the Court subsequently reinstated Defendant Justus because
new evidence emerged that he was involved with processing
inmates' letters during the relevant time period. (Doc.
142). After additional discovery was conducted, Defendants
filed a second Motion for Summary Judgment that raises many
of the same arguments as their first. Because issues of
material fact remain, the Court will deny the motion.
purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose
of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if the
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, shows “that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Only disputes
over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit will
preclude the entry of summary judgment, and the disputed
evidence must be “such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323. Parties opposing summary judgment are required to
“cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the
record” establishing a genuine dispute or “show[
] that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . .
of a genuine dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).
four named Defendants in this matter worked for the
private-prison corporation CoreCivic at the La Palma
Correctional Center (“La Palma”), in Eloy,
Arizona. Defendant James MacDonald served as the Warden of
the facility, Defendant Gary Ralston was the mailroom
supervisor, and Defendants Ashlee Pratt and Donald Justus
worked as mailroom clerks.
2007, Plaintiff Edward Vincent Ray Jr. (“Ray”)
and his son (“Ray III”) were convicted of some of
the same crimes in the Northern District of California.
Following those convictions, they were both incarcerated at
the same facility in Oklahoma. There, the California
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation authorized
correspondence between Defendant and his son via a Form 1074
(“2009 Form”). In August 2012, Plaintiff's
son was transferred to La Palma. Two months later, Plaintiff
was also transferred to La Palma. As with the Oklahoma
facility, inmates incarcerated at La Palma are subject to the
California Code of Regulations and must obtain a 1074 form to
correspond with other inmates. Ray and Ray III were able to
correspond freely until Ray was transferred to La Palma.
first few weeks at La Palma, Ray did not realize that his
mail to his son was being withheld and speculated that the
mailroom may have mixed up their mail because they had the
same name. On November 22, Ray wrote to the mailroom to
clarify that he and his son “had an approved CDCR 1074
form to write to each other.” (Doc. 179 Ex. 14). Ray
began to worry for his son's safety and did not received
any correspondence from Ray III. (Doc. 179, Ex. 3).
December 1, Ray spoke with his daughter on the phone, and she
informed Ray that his son had sent letters to him, and that
his son had not received his letters. Four days later, Ray
submitted another form to the mailroom, complaining about the
seizure of his mail, and noting that he had prior approval to
send his son mail. Two days after that, Ray received returned
letters that he had written to his son, along with an empty
envelope that was addressed to the mailroom staff. Becoming
increasingly frustrated with the staff, Ray sent a third form
to the mailroom pleading that they stop withholding his mail,
noting that he was trying to communicate with his son about
their pending habeas petitions, and claiming the guards were
“interfering with my active pending legal case that
also involves my son/co-defendant.” (Doc. 179, Ex. 28).
Defendant Ralston simply responded, “Submit a 1074 for
Approval.” (Id.). So, Ray then submitted a
second 1074 Form for approval. (Doc. 179, Ex. 1).
days later, Ray discussed the mail seizure issue with Warden
MacDonald in person. Ray states that he showed Warden
MacDonald his 2009 Form that approved contact between him and
his son. Warden MacDonald told Ray to file a grievance, so
Ray did on December 10. In that grievance, Ray attached his
2009 Form, and sent copies to both Warden MacDonald and the
mailroom. Nine days later, Ray had not received a response
from Warden MacDonald, so he sent an additional form
requesting a response. In that form, Ray again noted that he
and his son “were already approved to correspond via
CDCR 1074 form.” (Doc. 179, Ex. 35). On January 8, Ray
again pleaded with Defendant MacDonald to allow him to
correspond with his son. On the same day, Ray submitted a
form to Ralston, notifying him that Ray would name him in a
lawsuit unless he allowed him to send letters to his son.