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HAYNES v. LAMBOR

February 3, 1992

ROBERT HAYNES, Plaintiff,
v.
BETTY LAMBOR, et al., Defendants.


LINDBERG


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GEORGE W. LINDBERG

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Robert Haynes brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 against several employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Haynes claims that defendants deprived him of liberty without due process of law by subjecting him to excessive discipline and causing him to remain in punitive segregation for nineteen days longer than provided for in the prison regulations. This matter is now before the court on defendants' motion for summary judgment, in which defendants contend that Haynes's claim is moot; and that Haynes was not deprived of due process. Haynes has filed a response to defendants' motion.

 Facts

 The undisputed facts are as follows. On September 4, 1989, *fn1" Haynes received disciplinary report for violating Rule 301-Fighting, *fn2" and was taken immediately to the segregation unit of the Pontiac Correctional Center. On September 11, Haynes appeared before the Pontiac Adjustment Committee, and was found guilty of violating Rule 301. Haynes was sentenced to three months' revocation of good time credits, three months' demotion to C-grade status, and three months' segregation. On September 12, Haynes was transferred to the segregation unit of the Stateville Correctional Center, where he learned that the Pontiac Adjustment Committee had sentenced him to too much time for a Rule 301 violation. According to Department of Corrections Rules, a Rule 301 violation carries a maximum penalty of one month across the board.

 On September 13, Haynes sent a letter to Warden O'Leary of Stateville informing him of the discrepancy in his sentence. On September 20, assistant warden Salvador Godinez wrote Haynes to tell him that, if he received no further disciplinary tickets, he would be released from segregation "in one month." *fn3" Godinez further advised Haynes that he should file a grievance over the other discipline he received (revocation of good time and demotion to C-grade status). On September 29, Haynes filed his first grievance with the Institutional Grievance Board. This grievance was returned to Haynes because he did not use the proper grievance form. On October 9, Haynes wrote a letter to Godinez, telling him that he (Haynes) had not received any disciplinary tickets, and that he should therefore be released from segregation on October 11. *fn4" On October 12, Haynes filed a second grievance. On October 20, Haynes wrote a third letter concerning his punishment, and sent copies of the letter to various prison officials. On October 23, Haynes was released from segregation.

 On November 3, the Institutional Grievance Board responded to Haynes's grievance by noting that Haynes had been released form segregation on October 23, and advising Haynes to file a grievance regarding restoration of good time with the Administrative Review Board in Springfield. In a letter dated November 7, Warden O'Leary directed the Record Office Supervisor to ensure that Haynes's records reflect the appropriate discipline of one month segregation and one month's C-grade. O'Leary made no mention of good time credits. O'Leary also directed that Haynes be paid at the unassigned rate of pay for the period of October 4 through 24. Haynes's trust fund transaction record reflects that $ 7.14 was deposited into his prison trust account on November 13. On December 4, the Administrative Review Board adjusted Haynes's records to reflect one month's revocation of good time credits.

 Neither party disputes the above described facts. Haynes claims, however, that, despite Warden O'Leary's November 7 directive, Haynes remained on C-grade status until February or March, 1990. *fn5" Haynes also claims that he should be compensated for the extra time he spent in segregation.

 Summary Judgment

 Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden of submitting affidavits and other evidentiary material to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Once the moving party has sustained its initial burden, the opposing party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the pleadings, but instead must come forward with specific evidence, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. The court must then view the entire record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

 Analysis

 In every Section 1983 action, the plaintiff must prove that the conduct complained of 1) was committed by a person acting under color of state law; and 2) deprived the plaintiff of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535, 68 L. Ed. 2d 420, 101 S. Ct. 1908 (1981). There is no dispute that all defendants acted under color of state law. The remaining issue is whether, by giving Haynes an excessive sentence, keeping him in segregation for an extra nineteen days, and subjecting him to de facto C-grade status for an extra two months, defendants deprived Haynes of his rights under the Constitution or laws. *fn6"

 The first question in this case is whether the defendants on the Pontiac Adjustment Committee violated Haynes's constitutional rights by sentencing him to three months across the board for violating Rule 301. There is no question that the Adjustment Committee members violated Rule 301 itself, which provides for a penalty of no more than one month across the board. However, violations of state law or regulations are not cognizable under Section 1983. Archie v. City of Racine, 847 F.2d 1211, 1217 (7th Cir. 1988) (en banc), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1065, 103 L. Ed. 2d 809, 109 S. Ct. 1338 (1989). Unless the members of the Adjustment Committee violated Haynes's constitutional rights, they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

 In certain instances, courts have held that "punishment which is disproportionate to the offense committed constitutes cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Adams v. Carlson, 488 F.2d 619, 635-36 (7th Cir. 1973). See e.g. Chapman v. Pickett, 586 F.2d 22, 27 (7th Cir. 1978) (segregation for nearly seven months manifestly disproportionate to the offense of failing to perform work as instructed, especially when refusal was based on religious grounds); Black v. Brown, 524 F. Supp. 856, 858 (N.D.Ill. 1981) aff'd. in part without opinion and rev'd. in part without opinion 688 F.2d 841 (7th Cir. 1982) (eighteen months segregation for running in the prison yard found excessive). However, a violation of the Eighth Amendment requires a showing of a culpable mental state on the part of prison officials. See McGill v. Duckworth, 944 F.2d 344 (7th Cir. 1991). A simple error in the calculation of punishment will not violate the Eighth Amendment. See Sample v. Diecks, 885 F.2d 1099, 1108-09 (3rd Cir. 1989) (error in calculation of release date does not violate the Eighth Amendment). Accordingly, unless the evidence supports an inference that the members of the Adjustment Committee intentionally gave Haynes an excessive sentence, they cannot be found to have violated the Eighth Amendment.

 Courts have also addressed issues of excessive discipline under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See e.g. Adams v. Carlson, supra; Black v. Brown, supra. In Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 566, 41 L. Ed. 2d 935, 94 S. Ct. 2963 (1973), the Supreme Court outlined certain due process requirements for prison disciplinary proceedings, including advance written notice of the charges, a limited right to call witnesses, and a written statement of the factfinder. Haynes does not claim he was denied any of these rights, however, but rather claims that the Adjustment Committee purposely gave him an excessive sentence. The Adjustment Committee members claim the excessive sentence was the result of an error. Like the analysis under the Eighth Amendment, a simple error in the calculation of punishment will not violate due process. See Toney-El v. Franzen, 777 F.2d 1224, 1229 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, Toney-El v. Lane, 476 U.S. 1178, 90 L. Ed. 2d 994, 106 S. Ct. 2909 (1986) (error in calculating release date did not violate due process); Abernathy v. Perry, 869 F.2d 1146, 1148 (8th Cir. 1989) (inadvertent failure to give segregated prisoner notice of extensions of segregation did not violate due process). As the Supreme Court stated in Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 328, 88 L. Ed. 2d 662, 106 S. Ct. 662 (1986), the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment "is not implicated by a negligent act of an official ...


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