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Spencer v. Jackson County Missouri

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 26, 2013

Randy G. SPENCER, Plaintiff-Appellant
JACKSON COUNTY MISSOURI; Kenneth Conley, Defendants Carter; Williams; Anthony, Defendants-Appellees Nurse Jane Doe, Defendant.

Submitted: Sept. 26, 2013.

Page 908

Matthew G. DiMeglio, Law Student, Washington U. School of Law, St. Louis, MO, argued (D. Bruce La Pierre, Prof. of Law, David A. Collier, Allison E. Jones, Law Students, Washington U. School of Law, Brian C. Walsh, Bryan Cave LLP, St. Louis, MO, on the brief), for appellant.

Tracey Chappell, Asst. County Counselor, Jackson County, Kansas City, MO, argued, for appellees.

Before MURPHY, MELLOY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

Randy G. Spencer filed this action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against Jackson County, Missouri and employees in its detention center, alleging violation of his constitutional rights by Margo Carter, the supervisor of the inmate worker program, and case managers Gale Anthony and Brenda Williams. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Spencer appeals the dismissal of his First Amendment claims. After carefully reviewing the record, we reverse and remand.

Page 909


On this appeal from the grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment, we view all facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff Randy Spencer. Spencer was booked into the detention center in January 2005 on charges of tampering with a motor vehicle, assaulting a police officer, stealing over $750, and resisting arrest. Spencer's prior criminal record included a number of past charges of second degree burglary, stealing over $150, and parole violation. He was described in his detention center inmate worksheet as " [m]ature, cooperative, [and] non aggressive."

Spencer was approved for the detention center's Inmate Worker Program (IWP), also known as the " trustee program," on February 14, 2005. Inmates in the trustee program receive job assignments within the detention center and are paid for each shift, with an opportunity to earn more for additional work. They also receive a number of privileges and incentives. They are housed in a trustee module and are eligible for late nights, weekend contact visitation rewards, and access to popcorn, soda, and a movie player. One of Spencer's work assignments in 2005 was in the kitchen; inmates assigned to the kitchen receive extra food and may have one meal per work day in the break room area.

According to Spencer, he and his program supervisor Margo Carter (then Margo Hurse) had a good relationship during his 2005 stay in the IWP. After Spencer participated in a question and answer session for a university criminal justice seminar, Carter wrote him a letter on April 18 stating that she " sincerely want[ed] to thank" Spencer for his participation in the IWP and wished him " luck in [his] future lifelong endeavors." Spencer left the IWP in late April 2005 to enter a drug and alcohol treatment program which he successfully completed in May. He then requested reentry to the trustee program. His case manager, Marvin Walker, congratulated him on his completion of the treatment program and wrote that he would " get [him] back in the [trustee] program A.S.A.P." Spencer was again approved for the trustee program and remained in it until he left the detention center in June 2005.[1]

Spencer filed a lawsuit against Carter and other employees of the detention center in 2006, alleging that he had received inadequate medical and dental care there, lack of response to his requests and grievances, and retaliation by Carter. Spencer asserts that Carter received notice of the action because he sent her " interrogatories, requests for admissions and production of documents requests."

On October 17, 2009 Spencer returned to the detention center on a new charge of stealing over $750. He was at this time 53 years old and aside from the new charge his criminal record was the same as in 2005. He was again approved for the trustee program. Then on October 28, Spencer spoke to Carter while she was investigating an incident that occurred in the trustee module. Spencer claims that Carter recognized his voice and face during this conversation, during which he told her he was sorry for filing the lawsuit and expressed the hope he could stay in the trustee program. Carter replied, " I don't know." Then, in " what seem[ed] like only a few seconds," Carter came to tell him that he was being terminated from the program. Spencer was then terminated and moved from the trustee module to H module, a housing area without the special features of the trustee program.

Page 910

One day after being terminated from the trustee program Spencer submitted a Request for Administrative Remedy form (known as a " JPO" ), which is generally required before filing a formal grievance, asking Carter to " reconsider [her] decision." He wrote that " you wouldn't have even known about it had I not said something and I did that out of my heart because I was concerned if you were mad[ ] at me and that was because I thought we were friends at ...

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