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Hines v. Axelsson

United States District Court, D. Alaska

December 20, 2019

TAMMI AXELSSON, et al. Defendants.


          Ralph R. Beistline Senior United States District Judge

         On May 30, 2019, Guy Douglas Hines, a self-represented prisoner, filed a Civil Rights Complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an Application to Proceed Without Prepayment of the Filing Fee, and a Request for the Appointment of Counsel.[1] In that Complaint, Mr. Hines alleged a single claim of retaliation against Fairbanks Correctional Center Superintendent Tami Axelsson. The Court screened the Complaint, certified the claim, and issued an Order Directing Service and Response, along with an Order to Collect the Filing Fee.[2] Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hines filed several motions to add additional defendants to his Complaint. The Court denied the motions, stayed the Answer from the Defendants, and gave Mr. Hines leave to amend. Mr. Hines proceeded by filing his First Amended Complaint.[3]

         In Mr. Hines's First Amended Complaint, he names five defendants: Superintendent Tami Axelsson, Probation Officer Timothy Dye, Probation Officer Jane Doe Hoffert, Contractor Provider John Doe, and Assistant Attorney General Matthias Cicotte. Broadly, he alleges a vast retaliation scheme perpetrated against him from August to early September 2017 due to his questioning of staff and filing of prison grievances.

         Mr. Hines alleges that on September 11, 2017, Superintendent Axelsson interfered in an investigation and that when he questioned her staff's conduct, she retaliated against him by placing him in “solitary confinement for a short period, until [he] said [he] wouldn't raise any more of a stink about their actions.”[4]Mr. Hines alleges that he “again started asking questions” and that he “was moved to . . . another housing unit, that does not have ready and easy access to medical [which he needs] because of [his] heart condition that is well documented . . . [as he has] to be transported to the hospital when [he has] an episode.”[5] In fact, he alleges, he “had an episode with [his] heart, and could not get staffs' attention, and injured [his] foot doing so, then had to be transported by EMS to the hospital, to have [his] heart converted, then was brought back and put back in the same cell, and was left there until [he] was transferred to GCCC, and no grievance was granted by DOC for her retaliatory conduct.”[6] These are the same allegations as previously certified by the Court.[7]

         Mr. Hines further alleges that during August to September 2017, Defendants Dye, Hoffert, and Doe retaliated against him by tampering with his state files by removing substance abuse records and assessments. Mr. Hines alleges that these defendants purged his file of these records because of his questioning of corrections staff. Mr. Hines alleges these actions resulted in a denial of both parole and furlough, causing him to remain incarcerated.

         Currently, Mr. Hines is litigating the same facts as alleged in this action in state court.[8] The Court takes judicial notice of Hines v. State of Alaska Board of Parole, No. 3AN-18-10185CI and Hines v. State of Alaska Department of Corrections, No. 3AN-18-10045CI; both of these cases are appeals from an administrative agency and pending before the Alaska Superior Court. The Court notes that Hines v. State of Alaska Department of Corrections, No. 3AN-18-10045CI, which was litigating the denial of Mr. Hines's furlough, is closed. The Court further notes that Hines v. State of Alaska Board of Parole, No. 3AN-18-10185CI, which is litigating Mr. Hines's denial of parole, remains pending, with oral argument set for March 2020.

         Lastly, Mr. Hines alleges that Matthias Cicotte has refused to produce records and documents and used “undue delay tactics, ” which he believes is furtherance of the retaliation scheme. Defendant Cicotte is the Assistant Attorney General representing the Department of Corrections in the afore-mentioned state court cases.[9]

         For relief, Mr. Hines requests (1) damages “in excess of $50, 000.00 per defendant”; (2) punitive damages to be determined; (3) an order requiring the defendants “tender resignation from DOC entirely”; (4) a declaration that “they did interfere with an investigation, and retaliated”; and (5) “all other staff that acted at the direction, ‘Public Admonishment.'”[10]


         Federal law requires a court to conduct an initial screening of a civil complaint filed by a self-represented prisoner seeking a waiver of the prepayment of the filing fee. In this screening, a court shall dismiss the case at any time if the court determines that the action:

(i) is frivolous or malicious;
(ii) fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief.[11]

         To determine whether a complaint states a valid claim for relief, courts consider whether the complaint contains sufficient factual matter that, if accepted as true, “state[s] a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”[12] In conducting its review, a court must liberally construe a self-represented plaintiff's pleading and give the plaintiff the benefit of the doubt.[13] Before a court may dismiss any portion of a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, the court must provide the plaintiff with a statement of the deficiencies in the complaint and an opportunity to amend or otherwise address the problems, unless to do so would be futile.[14]


         Mr. Hines has alleged a vast retaliation scheme in violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His prior certified claim against Defendant Axelsson remains the same and does not mention the missing records at issue in current state court litigation. At his own admission and as judicially noticed, Mr. Hines currently is litigating in state court on the same facts as raised in the allegations against Defendants Dye, Hoffert, and Doe. Defendant Cicotte represents the Department of Corrections in the current state court case. At this time, Mr. Hines's administrative appeal regarding the denial of his parole proceeds on the theory that his records were purged in retaliation. The doctrine of Younger abstention requires the federal court to abstain where a federal court may enjoin a state court criminal or other special civil proceedings. Accordingly, the federal court must abstain from hearing the claims against Defendants Dye, Hoffert, Doe, and Cicotte for the reasons discussed below.

         1. Defen ...

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