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Dilworth v. Adams

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 7, 2016

MICHAEL ANTHONY DILWORTH, Plaintiff - Appellant,
v.
CAPTAIN ADAMS; A R. FALES, JR.; LT. L. ROBINSON; LT. R. JOHNSON; OFFICER COOKSON; OFFICER TROTT, Defendants-Appellees, and ED MCMAHON, Sheriff; New Hanover County; LT. TRAVIS ROBINSON; SGT. WHITMORE; OFFICER MARINO; MR. WHITE; MR. THOMAS, Defendants.

          Argued: September 20, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Raleigh. James C. Dever III, Chief District Judge. (5:13-ct-03291-D)

         ARGUED:

          E. Brantley Webb, MAYER BROWN LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Scott Christopher Hart, SUMRELL, SUGG, CARMICHAEL, HICKS & HART, P.A., New Bern, North Carolina, for Appellees.

         ON BRIEF:

          Jason R. LaFond, MAYER BROWN LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

          Before WILKINSON, MOTZ, and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.

         Reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded by published opinion. Judge Harris wrote the opinion, in which Judges Wilkinson and Motz joined.

          PAMELA HARRIS, Circuit Judge

         In 2013, Michael Anthony Dilworth was a pretrial detainee at North Carolina's New Hanover County Detention Facility. While awaiting trial, Dilworth spent a total of 85 days in disciplinary segregation as punishment for two disciplinary infractions, one arising from an altercation with another prisoner and one from an altercation with correctional officers. Dilworth was not afforded a hearing in connection with either of his placements in disciplinary segregation.

         Dilworth sued various Detention Facility officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, arguing that the imposition of disciplinary segregation without a hearing violated his procedural due process rights. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, reasoning that due process requirements were satisfied by Dilworth's opportunity to file a written appeal after he was placed in disciplinary segregation. We disagree, and hold that as a pretrial detainee, Dilworth was entitled to a hearing before he was punished. As the defendants concede, no such hearing was afforded, and we therefore direct that judgment be entered for Dilworth on his due process claim.

         Dilworth also raised an excessive force claim against the two officers involved in his second fracas. Again, the district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, on the ground that the record showed the officers had acted in good faith and without a culpable state of mind. As the parties agree, a subsequent Supreme Court decision has made clear that excessive force claims by pretrial detainees are governed by an objective standard, rather than the subjective one applied by the district court. Accordingly, we remand for consideration of Dilworth's excessive force claim under the proper standard.

         I.

         A.

         Dilworth was held in the New Hanover County Detention Facility as a pretrial detainee. A pretrial detainee is someone who has been charged with a crime - in Dilworth's case, failing to appear in court as ordered - but not yet tried. Though Dilworth had "not been adjudged guilty of any crime, " he could be detained pending trial in order to ensure his presence at that proceeding. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 536 (1979).

         During his pretrial detention, at 4:20 p.m. on the afternoon of May 11, 2013, Dilworth was involved in a physical fight with another inmate. Officer Charles Thomas, the supervising guard, immediately placed the unit on "lockdown" while he summoned assistance. Less than an hour later, at 5:05 p.m., Thomas filed an "Inmate Disciplinary Report" describing the incident and stating that he had taken the "disciplinary action" of placing Dilworth in segregation for 45 days. J.A. 58. ...


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