amendment and the right to due process, 4) whether the amount of
time prisoners spend in their cells is constitutionally
permissible, 5) whether the use of physical restraints violates
the eighth amendment, 6) whether prisoners are denied access to
the courts and to legal materials, 7) whether prisoners are
denied the right to practice their religion, and 8) whether the
denial of contact visits violates the inmates' constitutional
rights. In a 166 page Recommendation, the Magistrate found that
the individual practices and conditions of which plaintiffs
complain did not violate any constitutional rights, and that the
conditions, even when considered together, were not violative of
the eighth amendment.
On October 10, 1985, this Court ordered that a transcript of
the proceedings be prepared and sent to the Court for its review.
Additionally, the Court held four days of hearings, from December
16, 1986 to December 19, 1986, in order to obtain an update on
the conditions at Marion and in order that it be informed of any
changes occurring at Marion since the hearings held before the
Magistrate. The parties agreed upon a consolidation of the
request for a preliminary injunction and the request for a
permanent injunction, and that the hearing in December, 1986
would be a final hearing on both requests.
Prior to the scheduled hearings in this case, the Court held
several pretrial conferences. At these conferences, the Court
told counsel for plaintiffs and defendants that it would make a
surprise visit to Marion. Counsel made no objections and in fact,
appeared to agree that such a visit was a good idea.
My law clerks and I made an unannounced visit and toured the
institution on December 11, 1986. We were accompanied by one of
the attorneys for plaintiffs and the attorney representing
defendants. The tour included a visit to the law library, dining
room, visiting rooms, the industry area where prisoners from
certain units are allowed to work, the prison chapels, and the
exercise and recreational areas. The Court also toured the
Control Unit, the disciplinary segregation unit, and part of the
general population units. While the Court did not actually tour B
Unit (more fully described below), the Court was able to observe
the movement and mingling of prisoners in that particular unit.
The tour not only provided an update on the conditions at Marion,
but more importantly, aided the Court in understanding the
testimony and the specific issues involved in this case.
In a section entitled "General Objections to the Report,"
plaintiffs make various generalized objections regarding the
Magistrate's ability to be fair and impartial. The Court
initially notes that Local Rule 32(b) requires specific
objections to a report and recommendation. Furthermore, other
courts have held that "a district court need not conduct a de
novo determination if objections are not timely or not specific."
Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6-7 (3d Cir. 1984) (emphasis added).
See also Nettles v. Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404, 410 n. 8 (5th Cir.
1982). Therefore, this Court need not even consider the general
objections set forth by plaintiffs. However, in the interests of
justice and in order that its review of the proceedings be
complete, the Court has considered those general objections
raised by plaintiffs. The Court agrees that the Magistrate's
praise of certain government witnesses was perhaps unnecessary.
Also, the Magistrate's comments to plaintiffs' counsel, as well
as his comments regarding plaintiffs' witnesses and certain
testimony plaintiffs attempted to present, were at times
unnecessarily harsh. At the same time, the Magistrate was
obviously interested in moving the case along. In any event, the
Court finds, from an overall review of the proceedings, that the
Magistrate functioned as an impartial decision-maker, and that
plaintiffs were given a fair hearing.
Plaintiffs have also set forth twenty-four pages of "specific
objections." Some of these objections are, however, framed in
general, vague and broad terms, and are
therefore difficult, if not impossible, to consider and review in
any meaningful way. For example, in objections No. 7 and No. 9,
plaintiffs state as follows:
7. The discussion of x-rays is spurious and ignores
the evidence. The proper inference to draw is that
plaintiffs want the relief requested, that potential
health hazards be considered, and that their
constitutional rights be respected.
9. In almost all of the remaining issues discussed
in the report, plaintiffs' challenges are misstated
and belittled. Plaintiffs challenge the failure to
provide adequate medical care when the omission
occurs, and produced ample evidence to support their
claim. Plaintiffs appreciate and applaud competent
medical care when it is provided. Plaintiffs do not
challenge the hobbycraft policies, package policies,
or toilet paper policies, except as they relate to
the totality of conditions and are vehicles for
harrassment by guards.
The psychological damage of brutality and the
conditions of confinement was the subject of much
testimony, both direct and expert. The evidence is
completely disregarded by the magistrate, although it
is a central issue in the litigation. The report
reduces the matter to a challenge to the
unavailability of psychiatric services. Not even
defendants claimed that psychological counseling is
available to prisoners. Even if counseling were
available, that in no way justifies the perpetration
of the serious harm which continues today as a result
of incarceration at Marion.
Inadequacy of the law library, access to
typewriters and copying, and difficulties associated
with legal visits, all are related to plaintiffs
[sic] rights of access to court. These issues arose
in testimony only incidentally, as elements to be
considered in the totality of conditions. The
testimony was restricted, and the magistrate has not
had the benefit of a full and complete presentation
of the evidence on which to base his conclusions.
Those specific objections that were raised, however, have been
carefully considered by this Court in reviewing the record of
proceedings and in reaching its decision.
Since plaintiffs appear to object to virtually the entire
Report and Recommendation, the Court has reviewed not only the
Magistrate's Recommendation, but over 4,000 pages of transcript,
as well as numerous exhibits. After thoroughly reviewing the
record in this case and after hearing four days of additional
testimony, the Court concludes that 1) the Magistrate's findings
are supported by the evidence in the record; and 2) the
Magistrate correctly determined that the conditions at Marion,
alone or in combination, do not violate the Constitution. The
Court will not repeat the legal analysis, with regard to each
specific issue, that is set forth in the Report and
Recommendation, but will discuss those issues that, for various
reasons, merit further attention.
CREDIBILITY DETERMINATIONS OF THE MAGISTRATE
Many of the Magistrate's findings, particularly with regard to
plaintiffs' allegations that beatings had occurred, were based on
his determination that certain prisoners were not credible
witnesses. In reviewing credibility determinations of the
Magistrate, the district court "is not required to hear any
witness and not required to hold a de novo hearing of the case."
U.S. v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676, 100 S.Ct. 2406, 2412-13, 65
L.Ed.2d 424 (1980). As stated by the Seventh Circuit:
Raddatz made it clear that the district court, in
making its de novo determination of the record, could
afford the magistrate credibility findings "`such
weight as [their] merit commands and the sound
discretion of the judge warrants.'" Thus, on appeal,
the district court's decision to adopt the
magistrate's credibility rulings without hearing the
testimony can only be said to be [an] abuse of
discretion if the record reflects that those rulings
were themselves clearly erroneous and entitled to no