Prisoner Grievances, Retaliation, and the First Amendment

In Brodheim v. Cry, No. 07-17081 (9th Cir. Oct. 28, 2009) is prisoner sued under the First Amendment, alleging that a prison guard retaliated against him for filing a prison grievance:

Michael Brodheim, a prisoner at the California Medical Facility (“CMF”), appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment against him on his claim that his First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances was violated by defendant Michael Cry, the prison Appeals Coordinator. The claimed violation occurred when a prison official denied Brodheim’s written “interview request,” and noted on the denial that Brodheim should be “careful” what he writes and requests in his administrative grievances. This was also followed by a request from the same official that Brodheim be transferred out of the CMF due to his filing of grievances and this lawsuit.
Held: Summary judgment in favor the prison guard was improper.  Slip op. at 14544.  Much of the opinion is devoted to a res judicata issue.  For the discussion of the prisoner's First Amendment claim, skip to slip op. at 14552 (page 11 of the .pdf); or just click here.  The quote that will show up in briefs: "[T]he mere threat of harm can bean adverse action, regardless of whether it is carried out because the threat itself can have a chilling effect."  Slip op. at 14554.

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