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Hansen v. Nelson

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division

January 5, 2018

Scott Kelly Hansen, Plaintiff,
Ronald E. Nelson, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff pro se Scott Kelly Hansen, an Ohio inmate, brings this Section 1983 action against Defendants Ronald Nelson, Brian Wittrup, and Jill DeWitz, employees of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) and the Ohio Adult Parole Authority (OAPA). The Complaint alleges constitutional rights violations in connection with the revocation of Hansen's parole in 2014 and subsequent denial of release on parole in 2016. Specifically, Hansen contends Defendants wrongfully revoked his parole due to a “false” technical rule infraction (Doc. 4 at 3-8), then wrongfully denied him release on parole based on his earlier federal offenses (id. at 9-16). Hansen also claims he was improperly classified as a level-four inmate and has been held in segregated confinement without a hearing since 2014 (id. at 17-22). He seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief (id. at 23). Hansen moves to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. 1); that Motion is granted.


         In October 1991, while on parole from an earlier state sentence, Hansen was convicted of bank robbery in Ohio federal court and sentenced to eleven years in prison. The OAPA issued a state detainer warrant, but the BOP inadvertently released Hansen from federal custody in October 1997. In April 1998, the OAPA declared Hansen a violator at large. In 1998 and 1999, Hansen was charged in Rhode Island federal court with seven counts of bank robbery and one charge of escape from the institution in which he was detained (id. at 4). See Hansen v. Lappin, 800 F.Supp.2d 76, 80 (D.D.C. 2011). He was sentenced to 221 months in prison, and the OAPA again issued a detainer warrant. Id.

         Upon completion of Hansen's federal sentence and return to Ohio custody, the OAPA held a parole violation hearing in September 2014 (Doc. 4 at 6). Following the hearing, the OAPA found Hansen guilty of a parole violation based on the 1998 escape charge -- a charge he disputes. Nevertheless, the OAPA revoked Hansen's parole and denied his parole eligibility for 24 months (id. at 7-8). In August 2016, the OAPA held a parole hearing (id. at 10). It denied release and continued further consideration of parole until August 2018 (id. at 12). Hansen's maximum state sentence expires in 2035 (id. at 13).

         Meanwhile, Hansen alleges that upon his return to Ohio custody, he was given a level-four security classification. As a result, he claims he has been held in “segregated punitive solitary confinement” since September 2014 (id. at 18). He suggests this security classification was based on the OAPA determination that he previously escaped detention in April 1998, but he alleges he has been denied “any form” of hearing (id. at 19-20).

         Hansen contends that (1) the 2014 revocation of parole, (2) the 2016 denial of parole, and (3) the security classification and placement in segregation each violate his constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. He also claims Defendants retaliated against him for filing other Section 1983 lawsuits (id. at 21).


         Pro se pleadings are liberally construed. Boag v. MacDoughall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per curiam); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). This Court, however, must dismiss an action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e) and 1915A if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or lacks an arguable basis in law or fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action has no arguable basis in law when a defendant is immune from suit or when a plaintiff claims a violation of a legal interest which clearly does not exist. Id. at 327. An action has no arguable factual basis when the allegations are “delusional” or “wholly incredible.” Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).

         This Court must construe the Complaint in the light most favorable to Hansen, accept all factual allegations as true, and determine whether the Complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but its “allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Id. A claim is plausible when the complaint contains “factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Revocation and Denial of Parole (Claims 1-4)

         The Supreme Court has definitively held that “[t]here is no constitutional or inherent right of a convicted person to be conditionally released before the expiration of a valid sentence.” Greenholtz v. Inmates of Neb. Penal & Corr. Complex, 442 U.S. 1, 7-11 (1979) (“That the state holds out the possibility of parole provides no more than a mere hope that the benefit will be obtained.”). Simply put, there is no federal constitutional right to parole. See Gavin v. Wells, 914 F.2d 97, 98 (6th Cir. 1990). Nor does Ohio law create a protected liberty interest in parole, as the decision to grant or deny parole lies wholly within the discretion of the OAPA. See Jergens v. Ohio Dep't of Rehab. & Corr., 492 F. App'x 567, 569-70 (6th Cir. 2012). Hansen therefore fails to state a cognizable constitutional claim based on his 2016 denial of parole.

         Hansen also fails to state a claim based on his 2014 revocation of parole. He does not allege that he was deprived of the procedural protections recognized in Morrissey v. Brewer,408 U.S. 471, 490-91 (1972). In fact, he acknowledges that he received a parole violation hearing in response to a written charge (see Doc. 4 at 6-7). Further, “claims which challenge the revocation of parole are not cognizable under § 1983 until the parole revocation has ‘been reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such determination, or called into question by a federal court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus.'” Johnson v. Wilkinson, 2000 WL 553929, at *2 (6th Cir. ...

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