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Matthew Beckstrand v. Thomas Read; Nettie Simmons; Does 1-10

September 26, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan Oki Mollway Chief United States District Judge



Plaintiff Matthew Beckstrand brings suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Thomas Read and Nettie Simmons (collectively, "Defendants") for constitutional violations in connection with an alleged miscalculation of his state-court sentence. Beckstrand claims that the miscalculation caused him to spend seventy-three days in prison for an alleged parole violation that occurred after the date he says his parole term should have ended.

Defendants now move for summary judgment on all counts on the grounds that (1) Defendants have qualified immunity with respect to all claims because they were allegedly following the law governing the calculation of his sentence, and (2) Beckstrand's claims are barred by the statute of limitations.

See Defs. Thomas Read and Nettie Simmons' Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 35 ("Motion"). The court grants the Motion in part on limitations grounds, leaving the Fourth Amendment claim for further judgment.


On November 6, 2006, Beckstrand was sentenced by Judge Elizabeth Strance of the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit, State of Hawaii, to a five-year indeterminate term for second-degree burglary in Criminal Case No. 99-248K. Judgment for CR. No. 99-248K ("Judgment"), attached as Exhibit "A" to Pl. Separate Concise Statement of Facts, ECF No. 40 ("Pl. CSOF").

In the state system, a five-year "indeterminate" sentence sets five years as the maximum prison term. The Hawaii Paroling Authority may order an individual released after less than five years. In that event, the Hawaii Paroling Authority may require the individual to obey parole conditions for the remainder of the five-year period. Hawaii v. Kamana`o, 118 Haw. 210, 219, 188 P.3d 724, 733 (2008); HAW. REV. STAT. §§ 706-669, 706-670 (2007).

At the time he was sentenced in that state case, Beckstrand was already serving his prison sentence in a federal bank robbery case, as ordered by this court in Criminal Case No. 04-00273 SOM. Defs. Thomas Read and Nettie Simmons' Concise Statement of Material Facts in of Supp. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 36 ("Defs. CSOF") 2 ¶ 2; Pl. CSOF ¶ 25. The Judgment entered by Judge Strance provided, "This sentence shall run concurrently with the sentence imposed in" the federal bank robbery case. Judge Strance subsequently entered a Stipulation Regarding Pre-Sentence Credits and Order ("Stipulated Order"), stating that Beckstrand was to "receive credit from October 31, 2004," toward his state sentence. Stipulated Order, attached as Exhibit "B" to Pl. CSOF.

After serving his federal prison term, Beckstrand was transferred to state prison to complete his state incarceration. Compl. ¶ 13, ECF No. 1 ("Compl.").*fn1 He was not required to spend five years in prison on his state sentence. Instead, he was released on state parole on March 6, 2008. Defs. CSOF ¶ 4; Pl. CSOF ¶ 4; Order of Parole, attached as Exhibit "A" to Defs. Thomas Read and Nettie Simmons' First Req. Admiss. to Pl. Matthew Beckstrand, attached as Exhibit "E" to Defs. CSOF ("Parole Order").

Shortly before he was released from state custody, Beckstrand signed his Parole Order, which stated that his parole term would expire on October 1, 2011. Parole Order; Defs. CSOF ¶ 20; Pl. CSOF ¶ 20. This expiration date is at the heart of the present dispute. After his release, Beckstrand's state parole officer informed him that he "had him until 2012," and that Beckstrand was not entitled to credit for his federal sentence. Defs. CSOF ¶ 5; Pl. CSOF ¶ 5. Beckstrand contacted the State of Hawaii's Department of Public Safety ("DPS") and spoke with Simmons, a legal assistant in the department, about his parole expiration date. Defs. CSOF ¶¶ 6, 10; Pl. CSOF ¶¶ 6, 10. On or around October 14, 2008, Beckstrand allegedly provided Simmons with a copy of the Judgment and Stipulated Order in an apparent attempt to obtain a more favorable determination of his parole expiration date. Pl. CSOF ¶¶ 30-34.

Simmons had audited Beckstrand's file in July 2008 to verify his presentence credit and release date of September 30, 2011. Defs. CSOF ¶¶ 11-12; Pl. CSOF ¶¶ 11-12. The file was initially prepared by DPS staff member Raynette Ruiz in August 2007. Defs. Thomas Read and Nettie Simmons' Reply Mem. in Supp. Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 41 ("Defs. Reply Mem."). After Beckstrand's inquiry, Simmons allegedly informed Beckstrand over the telephone that, by law, Beckstrand was not entitled to credit against his state sentence for time served on his federal sentence. Defs. CSOF ¶ 13; Pl. CSOF ¶ 13.

Beckstrand asked to speak with Simmons's supervisor, Defendant Read, DPS's Offender Management Administrator. Defs. CSOF ¶ 7; Pl. CSOF ¶ 7. Read informed Beckstrand by telephone that, after meeting with Simmons and discussing Beckstrand's sentence, he concurred with his staff's computation of Beckstrand's parole expiration date, and that Beckstrand was not entitled to the credit he claimed. Defs. CSOF ¶¶ 7, 15; Pl. CSOF ¶¶ 7, 15.

Beckstrand alleges that his state parole term should have ended no later than October 30, 2009,*fn2 five years from the date on which the stipulated credit began. He says he complied with all of the terms of his state parole through that date. Pl. Mem. Opp'n to Defs. Mot. Summ. J., at 11, ECF No. 39 ("Pl. Mem. Opp'n").

In or around January 2010, Beckstrand's parole officer reported to the Hawaii Paroling Authority that Beckstrand had violated his parole by failing to notify the parole officer of a change of address in November 2009. Defs. CSOF ¶ 8; Pl. Mem. Opp'n, at 4. Beckstrand alleges that the parole violation occurred after the date the state parole term ended. Compl. ¶ 33.

The Hawaii Paroling Authority issued a warrant for Beckstrand's arrest on January 12, 2010. Defs. Reply Mem., at 4. He was arrested eleven months later, on December 19, 2010, and returned to state custody. Pl. Mem. Opp'n, at 4. Beckstrand alleges that he immediately notified prison authorities that he was being held unlawfully. Compl. ¶ 36.

At the initial hearing on Beckstrand's parole violation on February 2, 2011, Beckstrand was represented by Taryn Tomasa of the State of Hawaii's Office of the Public Defender. Id. ¶¶ 37-38. After that hearing was continued, Tomasa allegedly informed Max Otani, then-Acting Parole Board Chairman at the Hawaii Paroling Authority, on numerous occasions that Beckstrand was being held unlawfully, because by the terms of the state Judgment and Stipulated Order, the state sentence had ended before the alleged parole violation. Id. ¶ 40. Beckstrand continued to be held in custody. Id. ¶ 42. Thereafter, at the continued parole hearing on March 2, 2011, Tomasa allegedly argued that Beckstrand was being held unlawfully and represented that she was prepared to file a motion in state court seeking Beckstrand's release. Id. ¶ 44. According to Beckstrand, the Hawaii Paroling Authority then ordered his release without explanation. Id. ¶ 45. Beckstrand alleges that he was unlawfully incarcerated for 73 days (from December 19, 2010, until March 2, 2011). Id. ¶ 46.

In his Complaint, filed on September 30, 2011, Beckstrand alleges that Simmons and Read violated his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Beckstrand asserts a violation of the Eighth Amendment, a denial of due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Compl. ¶¶ 47-63.


Summary judgment shall be granted when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) (2010). See Addisu v. Fred Meyer, Inc., 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). The movants must support their position that a material fact is or is not genuinely disputed by either "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for the purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials"; or "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). One of the principal purposes of summary judgment is to identify and dispose of factually unsupported claims and defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

Summary judgment must be granted against a party that fails to demonstrate facts to establish what will be an essential element at trial. See id. at 323. A moving party without the ultimate burden of persuasion at trial--usually, but not always, the defendant--has both the initial burden of production and the ultimate burden of persuasion on a motion for summary judgment. Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000).

The burden initially falls on the moving party to identify for the court those "portions of the materials on file that it believes demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of material fact." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323). "When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (footnote omitted).

The nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. At least some "'significant probative evidence tending to support the complaint'" must be produced. Id. (quoting First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 290 (1968)). See Addisu, 198 F.3d at 1134 ("A scintilla of evidence or evidence that is merely colorable or not significantly probative does not present a genuine issue of material fact."). "[I]f the factual context makes the non-moving party's claim implausible, that party must come forward with more persuasive evidence than would otherwise be necessary to show that there is a genuine issue for trial." Cal. Arch'l Bldg. Prods., Inc. v. Franciscan Ceramics, Inc., 818 F.2d 1466, 1468 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587). Accord Addisu, 198 F.3d at 1134 ("There must be enough doubt for a 'reasonable trier of fact' to find for plaintiffs in order to defeat the summary judgment motion.").

All evidence and inferences must be construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 631. Inferences may be drawn from underlying facts not in dispute, as well as from disputed facts that the judge is required to resolve in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. When "direct evidence" produced by the moving party conflicts with "direct evidence" produced by the party opposing summary judgment, ...

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