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Redding v. Fairman

September 13, 1983

JAMES REDDING, JAMAL ALI AKBAR A/K/A JAMES I. BENSON, DONALD WOODRUFF, DONALD JONES, PAUL WILLIAM TEDDER, MELVIN NALLS, AND JEFFREY ARMSTRONG, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES, CROSS-APPELLANTS,
v.
JAMES FAIRMAN, CAPT. WHEAT, CAPT. HOSIER, CAPT. SHEHORN, CAPT. POE, CAPT. WENZELMAN, LT. MARTINEZ, LT. FOSTER, LT. DELOS SANTOS, MARY CATHERINE NOONAN, KENT MILLS, FERD KLAREN, LARRY LIVINGSTON, R. K. HANSON, TERRY WILLIAMS, HUGH JOHNSON, DIANE MARION, JOHN KAMMERMAN, AND FIVE UNKNOWN MEMBERS OF THE INSTITUTIONAL ADJUSTMENT COMMITTEE, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS, CROSS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Danville Division. Nos. 79 C 2217, 79 C 2304, 79 C 2310, 79 C 2313, 80 C 2013, 80 C 2108, 80 C 2132 -- Harold A. Baker, Judge.

Author: Bauer

Before BAUER, WOOD, Circuit Judges, and ROSENN, Senior Circuit Judge.*fn*

BAUER, Circuit Judge. The eighteen defendants, all staff of the Illinois Department of Corrections, appeal from adverse judgments on jury verdicts and an award of attorney's fees and costs entered in consolidate cases filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1979) and 28 U.S.C. § 1343 (1979). The plaintiffs, all prison inmates, cross-appeal on several issues.

Originally, seven prisoners filed eight separate pro se cases challenging the constitutionality of procedures used at the Pontiac Correctiional Center to conduct disciplinary hearings for prisoners charged with major misconduct. The district court consolidated the cases and appointed the plaintiffs counsel who filed an amended complaint.*fn1

After discovery, both sides filed motions for summary judgment. The district court granted the plaintiffs' motion in part, concluding that each of the eighteen prison Adjustment Committee hearings at issue was constitutionally defective because Committee summaries were inadequate. Additionally, the court ruled that three plaintiffs were denied their procedural rights because certain defendants did not disqualify themselves from participating in the hearings.

In December 1981, a jury tried the remaining issues, including (1) whether two plaintiffs were improperly denied their right to call witnesses at their hearings, (2) whether Adjustment Committee members acted in good faith, and (3) the extent of any actual injuries to the plaintiffs. The jury awarded a total of $6,020 compensatory damages and $400 punitive damages; these were distributed as explained below. The district court awarded nominal damages to two plaintiffs who received no award from the jury. The court also awarded the plaintiffs $14,995 attorney's fees and $1,437.36 costs.

Because the district court applied incorrect constitutional standards to certain issues before it, we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further considerations.

I. FACTS

A. Administrative Regulation 804

Administrative Regulation (A.R.) 804 defines major prisoner misconduct and estblishes procedures and punishments for use when a prisoner is ticketed with a disciplinary violation. Three provisions of A.R. 804 interest us here. The first, section (II)(G)-(4), states: "Under no circumstances may any person who initiated the allegations which serve as the basis for the Resident Disciplinary Report, or who investigated those allegations, or who witnessed the incident sit on the Adjustment Committee hearing that Resident Disciplinary Report." The regulation contains no other provision regarding impartiality of Committee members. The second provision, section (II)(G)-(9), states in part: "Witnesses requested by residents may be excluded [from the hearing] if their testimony would be irrelevant, cumulative, jeopardize the safety of an institution, or disrupt the security of the facility. If any witness is excluded, a written reason will be recorded." The third provision relevant to this case, section (II)(G)-(11), states:

The Adjustment Committee shall decide whether or not the resident committed the chargeable offense based upon the evidence it admits at the hearing. As previously stated, the Committee must be reasonably satisfied that the resident committed the offense for him/her to be found guilty of same. All evidence submitted, including all oral and written statements, shall be summarized in the written record prepared by the Committee. The Committee membes shall specifically refer to the evidence which convinced them to decide the resident did or did noit commit the chargeable offense. A short explanation shall be stated of why information purporting to exonerate the resident was discounted -- if the resident was found in violation. It will not be sufficient for the Committee's decision to simply adopt and copy the exact wording of the Resident Disciplinary Report. In addition, the disposition of the hearing, the disciplinary action taken, the duration of a segregation placement, as well as the reasons for the disciplinary action and the length of the segregatrion placement shall be specified in the written record. The written record must be signed by all the members of the Admustment Committee. (Emphasis added.)

Under A.R. 804, the Adjustment Committee consists of three members appointed by the Chief Administrative Officer of the prison. The Committee chariperson must have the rank of Captain or above. At the hearing, one Committee member records the proceedings, including the inmate's testimony, the disposition, evidence relied on, and the basis for decision. These observations are recorded on a pre-printed form titled Adjustment Committee Summary.

B. Plaintiff Redding

James Redding received a resident disciplinary report on November 19, 1979, charging him, among other things, with forging a name on a medical pass in violation of A.R. 804 §§ (II)(A)-(1), (13) & (14). On November 21, Redding appeared before the Adjustment Committee, then consisting of Defendants Hosier, Marion, and Klaren. Redding requested that Hosier disqualify himself, because Redding had an unrelated civil rights suit for damages pending against Hosier. Hosier refused the request.

The Committee found Redding guilty. In the section of the Adjustment Committee Summary marked "Record of Proceedings," the Committee wrote: "Resident states the officer is lying, that is his signature. And this document is not a forgery." In the section marked "Basis for Decision/Evidence Relied Upon," the Committee wrote: "All evidence presented has convinced the committee the resident is guilty of forging a pass or altering a pass, giving false information to a [sic] employee and disobeying a prison rule." Redding received fifteen days in segregation and a thirty-day demotion to C-grade status, entailing loss of cedrtain privileges accorded to A-grade inmates. The Committee's finding of guilt and the punishment imposed were approved by Defendant Fairman, Pontiac's warden, but six months later the entire incident was expunged from Redding's record because the charging officer admitted that the signature was not a forgery.

Redding testified in a deposition that he submitted an advance written request to call three witnesses at the Committee hearing.*fn2 The Committee denied his requests. The Adjustment Committee Summary did not explain two of the three denials.

At trial, Redding testified that he spent fifteen days in segregation as a result of the Committee decision. The jury awarded Redding $20 compensatory damages for denial of Redding's request to call witnesses, denial of an impartial decisionmaker, and inadequate summaries of the evidence and reasons for the Committee decision. The jury awarded Redding $200 punitive damages against Defendant Hosier for refusal to disqualify himself from the Committee.

C. Plaintiff Akbar

A resident disciplinary report dated January 10, 1980, charged jamal Ali Akbar with possession of gang-related materials -- specifically letters or "kites" -- in violation of A.R. 804 §§ (ii)(A)-(1), (14) & (15). Akbar was immediately placed in segregation. He made no advance written request for witnesses.

Akbar appeared before the Adjustment Committee on January 13. Under "Record of Proceedings," the Committee wrote in part: "Resident states that he was unaware of having the gang-related materials in his possession. States he had just picked up some affidavits from Resident Withers and placed them in a legal folder." In the section "Basis for Decision/Evidence Relied Upon," the Committee wrote: "Based on resident's testimony and evidence presented, the committee is convinced that resident is guilty of carrying kites and other unauthorized written material into the segregation unit and violated the trust in his law clerk position."

Defendant Hosier, then also a defendant in a pending civil rights suit for damages filed by Akbar, was chairman of the Committee. Although Akbar objected that he could not receive a fair hearing before Hosier, Hosier remained on the Committee.

The Committee imposed a disciplinary job transfer on Akbar, but reports on the violations were expunged from Akbar's record when another inmate verified Akbar's statement that the letters found in his possession were religious materials.

The jury awarded Akbar $3,500 compensatory damages for denial of an impartial decisionmaker and inadequate summaries of the evidence and reasons for the Committee decision. The jury also awarded Akbar $200 punitive damages against Defendant Hosier for refusing to disqualify himself from the Committee.

D. Plaintiff Nalls

Melvin Nalls' resident disciplinary report, received March 14, 1980, accused Nalls of assaulting another inmate in violation of A.R. 804 §§ (II)(A)-(1), (5), (6), (8), (10) & (28).

The Adjustment Committee, in a hearing held on March 16, found Nalls guilty. He was sentenced to one year in segregation, one year loss of good conduct time credit, a one-year demotion to C-grade status, and loss of audio-visual privileges. In the section "Record of Proceedings," the Committee wrote: "resident states he just got out of segregation 2 hours before incident occurred. He was not in gymnasium. Miranda warning was read prior to report having been read." In the section "Basis for Decision/Evidence Relied Upon," the Committee wrote:

Based on all evidence available, including the residents statements and the report from D. Polizzi indicating resident Nalls was observed in the shower room area at the gym and fact that resident Jones A15622 was assaulted, the Adjustment Committee is convinced that resident Nalls is guilty of assaulting another resident, creating a disturbance, unauthorized movement.

At trial, the jury awarded Nalls $1,000 compensatory damages for inadequate summaries of the evidence and reasons for the Committee decision.

E. Plaintiff Armstrong

On February 9, 1980, Jeffrey Armstrong was charged in a resident disciplinary report with cursing and grabbing a guard in violation of A.R. 804 §§ (II)(A)-(1), (2), (4), (5) & (6).

The Adjustment Committee found Armstrong guilty and sentenced him to thirty days in segregation and a six-month demotion to C-grade status. The Committee, in the section "Basis for Decision/Evidence Relied Upon," wrote: "Based on all available evidence, including the residents statements, the Adjustment Committee is convinced the resident is guilty of disregarding a prison rule, disrespect, cursing, and assaulting an employee by grabbing the employees arm."

Armstrong testified that his proper requests for witnesses were denied. In the section "Witnesses Called," the Committee wrote: "Witnesses were requested by the resident, however, based on the residents testimony, the Adjustment Committee is of the opinion the witnesses could offer no pertinent information or testimony to the situation."

The jury awarded Armstrong $1,500 compensatory damages for denial of Armstrong's request to call witnesses and inadequate summaries of the evidence and reasons for the Committee decision.

F. Plaintiff Tedder

Paul William Tedder complains about the procedures used at twelve separate Adjustment Committee hearings conducted during 1979 and 1980. Defendants Hosier, Shehorn, Santos, and Wheat sat as members of the Adjustment Committee during some of those hearings, and all refused to disqualify themselves despite Tedder's protests that they were prejudiced against him because they were defendants in pending lawsuits Tedder had filed.

Tedder did not make advance written requests to call witnesses. The Committee denied his oral requests made during some of the hearings. The Adjustment Committee found Tedder guilty at all twelve hearings:

(1) August 4, 1979 -- For violating A.R. 804 § (II)(A)-(4) (using improper language), punishment of seven days in segregation was reduced by the warden to a verbal reprimand.

(2) August 10, 1979 -- For violating A.R. 804 §§ (II)(A)-(1) & (3) (refusing properly authorized work or housing assignments), a sentence of fifteen days in segregation was imposed.

(3) September 30, 1979 -- For violating A.R. 804 §§ (II)(A)-(1) & (3), a sentence of fifteen days in segregation and fifteen days of C-grade status was imposed.

(4) November 3, 1979 -- For violating A.R. 804 § (II)(A)-(1), a sentence of fifteen days in segregation, fifteen days of C-grade status, and loss of audio-visual privileges was imposed.

(5) November 18, 1979 -- For violating A.R. 804 §§ (II)(A)-(1) & (3), the same sentence Tedder received on November 3 was imposed.

(6) February 2, 1980 -- For violating A.R. 804 §§ (II)(A)-(1), (2) (being disrespectful to an employee) & (4), a sentence of fifteen ...


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