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People Ex Rel. Yoder v. Hardy





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Randolph County; the Hon. Carl H. Becker, Judge, presiding.


Respondents-appellants, Stephen L. Hardy, administrator of Menard Psychiatric Center and Tyrone C. Fahner, Attorney General of Illinois, appeal from an order of the circuit court of Randolph County granting a writ of habeas corpus to Claude Rodney Yoder, a resident of the Menard Psychiatric Center, Illinois Department of Corrections. On appeal, respondents contend the trial court erred in finding that Yoder's statutory good-time credits were unlawfully revoked and in ordering the Department of Corrections to restore such credits.

Claude Rodney Yoder, petitioner-appellee, was convicted of aggravated battery on May 11, 1979, and sentenced to probation. On August 28, 1979, petitioner's probation was revoked and he was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections, a term which expired April 14, 1983.

On July 21, 1980, petitioner received a resident disciplinary report which charged him with a violation of section 804(II)(A)(28) of the Administrative Regulations of the Department of Corrections, "Violating the general laws of the State or Federal government." (AR 804(II)(A)(28).) The report alleged that Yoder sent threatening letters through the United States mail in violation of the Federal postal laws. (18 U.S.C. sec. 876 (1970).) A hearing on the charge was held before the adjustment committee on July 22, 1980, at which petitioner stated that he was unprepared to defend himself. In addition, petitioner requested a short continuance, the opportunity to call witnesses, and the assistance of a staff member in the presentation and preparation of his defense. The adjustment committee denied these requests and found him guilty as charged. The committee then imposed disciplinary action consisting of six months' segregation, six months' "C-grade" status and revocation of one year of his good-conduct credits.

The letters which were the subject of the violation came to the attention of respondent, Dr. Stephen Hardy, through William V. Kauffman, Jr., executive director of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. Some of these allegedly threatening letters were sent to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and others were sent from their addressees to the Champaign County State's Attorney, who forwarded them to Kauffman.

On August 8, 1980, petitioner was served with a second disciplinary report. The second report again charged petitioner with violating section 804(II)(A)(28), and alleged that he sent a threatening letter through the mails to then Attorney General of Illinois, William J. Scott, on July 17, 1980. The letter was received by Assistant Attorney General Michael Vujovich, who forwarded it to the Department of Corrections on July 25, 1980. Petitioner declined to waive his right to 24 hours' notice and was brought before the adjustment committee on August 9, 1980.

At the hearing, petitioner noted that he neither knew nor sent any letters to Michael Vujovich. The committee, however, found petitioner guilty and imposed additional disciplinary action consisting of one year of disciplinary segregation, one year "C-grade" status, and the revocation of one year of good-conduct credit.

Petitioner then filed a petition for Federal habeas corpus relief in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The cause was transferred to the Southern District of Illinois and assigned to the United States Magistrate, who recommended that the cause be dismissed for failure to exhaust State remedies, specifically, State habeas corpus. Before the recommendation was entered as an order of the court, petitioner filed his State habeas corpus petition. In his eight-count complaint, petitioner alleged various defects in the hearing process under which he was found guilty.

Respondents, Tyrone Fahner and Stephen Hardy, filed a motion to dismiss on January 11, 1982, which alleged that petitioner had insufficiently pleaded and was not entitled to relief. Petitioner filed a motion to strike certain portions of the motion to dismiss and further moved for admission to bail. The court denied the motion to dismiss, the motion to strike and the motion for bail, but required petitioner to amend the petition for habeas corpus. On March 24, 1982, petitioner filed an amended petition for writ of habeas corpus.

On May 6, 1982, Richard J. Habiger of the Prison Legal Aid of Southern Illinois University entered an appearance as additional counsel on behalf of petitioner. Petitioner and respondents entered into a stipulation for evidence, and the court decided the petition based upon the stipulated evidence, pleadings and briefs. On July 23, 1982, the court found that the revocation of defendant's two years of good-conduct credit was in violation of section 804 of the Department of Corrections' Administrative Regulations. The court then ordered the Department of Corrections to restore the good time previously revoked and to release petitioner from custody provided such restoration of good time entitled him to release.

On June 29, 1982, respondents filed a notice of appeal along with a motion for emergency stay with an alternative motion for a 10-day stay to apply for a stay in this court. The court denied the emergency application for stay but granted the alternative motion to stay its order for 10 days pending application to this court. The motion for stay was ultimately denied, and petitioner was released from State custody.

At the outset, we note that although petitioner has been released from custody, he is presently serving a mandatory supervised release. This appeal, therefore, is not rendered moot because a finding that petitioner's good conduct credit was improperly revoked might entitle him to an earlier termination of such supervision. Taylor v. Franzen (1981), 93 Ill. App.3d 758, 417 N.E.2d 242.

On appeal, respondents contend that the trial court erred in finding that respondents wrongfully revoked petitioner's statutory good-conduct credits and in restoring such revoked credits. Petitioner, by contrast, maintains that the trial court properly restored his revoked good-conduct credits because respondents violated his rights as set forth in the United States Constitution, Illinois statutes and the Department of Corrections' Administrative Regulations.

• 1 Initially, we consider petitioner's argument that he was denied due process of law under the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court has held that where a State statutorily creates a right to good time, the deprivation of which may be a sanction authorized for major misconduct, the prisoner has a liberty interest under the fourteenth amendment which entitles him to certain minimum due process procedures. (Wolff v. McDonnell (1974), 418 U.S. 539, 41 L.Ed.2d 935, 94 S.Ct. 2963.) The court in Wolff stated that in order to satisfy minimum requirements of due process, the prisoner must be afforded certain procedural rights which include: written notice of the claimed violation, at least 24 hours in advance of the inmate's appearance before the adjustment committee; written statement of fact finders as to evidence relied on and reasons for disciplinary action taken; and the opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in defense. Although petitioner maintains that he was denied ...

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