United States District Court, D. Colorado
AMENDED FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND
ORDER FOR ENTRY OF JUDGMENT
Brooke Jackson, United States District Judge
case was tried to the Court July 17-19, 2017. At the
conclusion of plaintiff's evidence the Court granted the
defendants' motion for judgment on partial findings under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(c). The Court announced its findings of fact
and conclusions of law from the bench. See ECF No.
172 (transcript). Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for
reconsideration or a new trial, citing Rules 52(b), 59(e) and
60(b). ECF No. 169. Because I agree with the plaintiff that
in at least one respect the Court misspoke, I am now issuing
amended findings which correct the error. However, while the
amended findings reorganize and clean up the oral rulings
somewhat, the substance of the findings and conclusions has
Hall is an inmate at the United States Penitentiary
Administrative Maximum Facility (“ADX”) in
Florence, Colorado. Mr. Hall filed this case pro se against
the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and several
BOP personnel in September 2015, and he filed amended
complaints in November 2015 and March 2016. ECF Nos. 1, 14,
40. The Court later granted Mr. Hall's motion to appoint
pro bono counsel, and counsel entered an appearance in
December 2016. ECF Nos. 99, 105. Through his attorney, Mr.
Hall filed his Third Amended Complaint on March 6, 2017,
which became the operative complaint in this case. ECF No.
123. One procedural change introduced in the Third Amended
Complaint was that plaintiff claimed that he was seeking
injunctive relief pursuant to the Administrative Procedure
Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Id. at 3. In terms of substance, Mr. Hall alleged
that he suffers from mental illness, but despite that,
defendants have placed him in near-solitary confinement at
the ADX with deliberate indifference to his mental health. He
also asserted that defendants have provided medically
unnecessary antipsychotic drugs as a reward for good
behavior, and that they have withheld the drugs as
punishment. Mr. Hall alleged that this placement in ADX and
inappropriate psychological care have exacerbated his mental
health issues. He raised two claims for injunctive and
declaratory relief: (1) an Eighth Amendment claim for failure
to provide adequate mental health care, and (2) a First
Amendment claim for keeping him in solitary confinement at
the ADX. Id. at 10-13. The injunctive relief he
sought was an order that defendants transfer him from the ADX
to a different facility. Id. at 12.
filed a motion to dismiss both claims and a motion for
summary judgment on the First Amendment claim. The Court
ruled on those dispositive motions on April 21, 2017. ECF No.
142. The Court dismissed the Eighth Amendment claim for the
reasons set forth in the written order. Briefly, in
Cunningham vs. Federal Bureau of Prisons, No.
12-CV-1570-RPM (D. Colo.), ADX inmates including Mr. Hall
challenged the adequacy of medical and mental health
treatment they were receiving. On June 15, 2015 Judge Matsch
approved a settlement of that case in which ADX officials
agreed to make changes designed to improve the mental health
treatment of inmates at the ADX in exchange for a complete
and final release of all claims related to those issues. This
Court concluded that the terms of the settlement barred Mr.
Hall's Eighth Amendment Claim in the present case.
Id. at 4-7, 13.
Court, however, did not dismiss the second claim for a
violation of Mr. Hall's rights of association under the
First Amendment. Id. at 7-13. That claim was tried
and is the subject of the findings and conclusions that
OF REVIEW - Rule 52(c)
52(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, entitled
“Judgment on Partial Findings, provides:
If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a non-jury
trial and the court finds against the party on that issue,
the court may enter judgment against the party on a claim or
defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or
defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue. The
court may, however, decline to render any judgment until the
close of the evidence. A judgment on partial findings must be
supported by findings of fact and conclusions of law as
required by Rule 52(a).
on the findings and conclusions set forth originally from the
bench and restated herein, this Court entered judgment on
partial findings in favor of the defendants.
OF REVIEW - The Right of Association
discussed in ruling on the dispositive motions, the
“constitutional right of association” protects
“the formation and preservation of certain kinds of
highly personal relationships.” Overton v.
Bazzetta, 539 U.S. 126, 131 (2003); Roberts v. U.S.
Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 618 (1984). “[T]he
constitutional shelter afforded such relationships reflects
the realization that individuals draw much of their emotional
enrichment from close ties with others.”
Roberts, 468 U.S. at 619. Between the poles of close
familial relationships and attenuated business contacts
“lies a broad range of human relationships that may
make greater or lesser claims to constitutional protection
from particular incursions by the State.” Id.
at 620. For example, some courts have extended this
protection to personal friendships. U.S. Citizens
Ass'n v. Sebelius, 705 F.3d 588, 598 (6th Cir.
the Supreme Court has also stated that “freedom of
association is among the rights least compatible with
incarceration.” Overton, 539 U.S. at 131.
Indeed, “First Amendment associational rights . . .
must give way to the reasonable considerations of penal
management.” Jones v. N. Carolina Prisoners'
Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 132 (1977). These
rights “may be curtailed whenever the institution's
officials, in the exercise of their informed discretion,
reasonably conclude that such associations, whether through
group meetings or otherwise, possess the likelihood of
disruption to prison order or stability, or otherwise
interfere with the legitimate penological objectives of the
prison environment.” Id.
determine whether a restriction on an inmate's
associational rights is reasonable by evaluating four
factors: 1) whether there is a “valid, rational
connection” between the government action and a
legitimate government interest; 2) whether alternative means
of exercising the asserted right remain open to the inmate;
3) what impact an accommodation of the right would have on
guards, other inmates, and prison resources; and 4) whether
there are “ready alternatives” that would
accommodate the prisoner's right, such that the
restriction is an “exaggerated response” to
prison concerns. Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78,
organize my findings of fact according to the four
Whether there is a “valid, rational
connection” between the government action and a
legitimate government interest.
first of the four Turner factors has been viewed as
the most important. “[I]t is ‘not simply a
consideration to be weighed but rather an essential
requirement.'” Al-Owhali v. Holder, 687
F.3d 1236, 1240 (10th Cir. 2012) (quoting Boles v.
Neet,486 F.3d 1178, 1187 (10th Cir. 2010). Legitimate
penological interests include ...