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Brown v. Oregon Department of Correction

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 29, 2014

JOSHUA ROBERT BROWN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; MAX WILLIAMS; STAN CZERNIAK; MICHAEL GOWER; BARBARA COONEY; JOAN BARTON; GREG JONES; MARK NOOTH; JUDY GILMORE; JACK BLANKENBAKER; HEIDI MACKENZIE; THERESA HICKS, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, Portland, Oregon March 4, 2014

As Corrected May 4, 2014.

Page 984

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. D.C. No. 3:10-cv-00003-BR. Anna J. Brown, District Judge, Presiding.

Tobias W. Mock (argued), Keith Slenkovich, Wilmer Hale LLP, Palo Alto, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Tiffany Keast (argued), Assistant Attorney General, Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General, Oregon Department of Justice, Salem, Oregon, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Alfred T. Goodwin, Stephen S. Trott, and William A. Fletcher, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Goodwin.

OPINION

Page 985

GOODWIN, Circuit Judge:

Joshua Robert Brown, currently incarcerated at Oregon's Snake River Correctional Institution (" SRCI" ), appeals the district court's summary judgment in his pro se 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action. Brown alleges that prison officials violated his due process rights by housing him in the Intensive Management Unit (" IMU" ) without periodic, meaningful review of his status.

We hold that, under any plausible baseline, Brown's conditions of confinement implicate a protected liberty interest giving rise to the procedural protections of the Due Process Clause. We also hold, however, that defendants are entitled to Eleventh Amendment and qualified immunity. We therefore affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Brown was assigned a Level 5 custody classification and placed in the IMU at SRCI on June 18, 2008, after being found in possession of a weapon. He remained confined in the IMU at either SRCI or the Oregon State Penitentiary (" OSP" ) for twenty-seven consecutive months, until his release to the OSP general population on September 22, 2010.

Pursuant to the Oregon Administrative Rules, a Level 5 custody classification is the highest level of supervision and is assigned to inmates demonstrating " behaviors that in the judgment of the department present a threat sufficient to require special security housing on intensive management status." Oregon Administrative Rule (" OAR" ) 291-104-0111(9)(a)(A). Level 5 classifications are assigned by the Special Population Management Committee. OAR 291-104-0125(3)(a). Once an inmate is assigned to Level 5, he is placed in the IMU or an IMU-status cell, and that status remains until the inmate " is manually scored to a lower ...


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