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SANCHEZ v. ROTH

June 22, 1995

ANGELO SANCHEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
THOMAS ROTH, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RUBEN CASTILLO

 Plaintiff, Angelo Sanchez, sues defendants Gilberto Romero, Herbert Givens, Roosevelt Fleming, Glenn Johnson, William Price, Darryl Carter, Adrienne Johnson, Frank Mussato and Kathy Hahn, for due process violations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that he was denied due process of law during a prison disciplinary hearing when the Adjustment Committee refused plaintiff's request to call witnesses and present exculpatory evidence in his defense. Defendants move for summary judgment. For the reasons which follow, defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

 BACKGROUND

 The following background facts have been drawn from the parties' Local Rule 12(M) and (N) Statements of Material Facts as to which there is no genuine issue and the accompanying exhibits, see UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS LOCAL RULES Rule 12, as well as the various other pleadings and exhibits submitted to the Court in connection with the pending motions. Angelo Sanchez has been residing at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, since 1981. (Defendants' Rule 12(M) Statement of Uncontested Facts P 1). On July 13, 1991, there was an inmate riot in cellhouse F. *fn1" A prison official, Captain Buffington, was stabbed and a resident was shot and killed. (Rule 12(M) P 11). Fires were set by several inmates in cellhouse F and the area became smoke-filled. In order to regain control, unidentified members of the prison TACT team fired tear gas into the cellhouse. (Rule 12(M) P 12).

 At the time of the July 13th riot, defendant Gilberto Romero was the Assistant Warden of Programs of the Stateville Correctional Center; defendant Herbert Givens was the Chief Internal Affairs Investigator; defendants Roosevelt Fleming and Glenn Johnson were captains; and defendants William Price and Darryl Carter were lieutenants. (Rule 12(M) PP 2-7, 17).

 On July 19, 1991, Angelo Sanchez was taken to segregation in connection with the July 13th riot. Five days later, a prison official served Sanchez with the Disciplinary Report which placed him on "investigative status pending an investigation into the assault on Captain Buffington, Dangerous Disturbance, and/or Damage to State Property." (Exhibit 2, Disciplinary Report served on July 24, 1991). At the conclusion of the investigation, Sanchez received a copy of the Disciplinary Report charging him with the following offenses: 104-Dangerous Contraband, 105-Dangerous Disturbance, 202-Damage or Misuse of property, 206-Threats of Intimidation, and 601-Aiding and Abetting. (Exhibit 3, Disciplinary Report dated August 8, 1991). Specifically, Assistant Warden Gilberto Romero and Captain Glenn Johnson identified Sanchez "as one of the inmates that threw burning rags into a wooden storage cabinet that was adjoining Unit F tower." (Exhibit 3). In addition, Captain Fleming and Lieutenants Price and Carter identified Sanchez "as the inmate that threatened to assault Lieutenant Price." (Exhibit 3).

 Angelo Sanchez subsequently appeared before the Adjustment Committee, composed of defendants Adrienne Johnson, *fn2" Frank Mussato, and Kathy Hahn, where he was found guilty of all charges, receiving one year in segregation, one year loss of good time credits, and demotion to grade C for one year. (Exhibit 5, Adjustment Committee Summary dated August 12, 1991). At the hearing, Sanchez orally presented his version of the events which took place during the July 13th riot. (Rule 12(M) P 35). However, the Adjustment Committee refused Sanchez's requests to "confront his accusers" and present exculpatory evidence at the disciplinary hearing. (Rule 12(M) PP 9, 10, 34, 36).

 Following the hearing, Sanchez filed a grievance in opposition to the Committee's finding of guilty. After re-interviewing Lieutenant Carter, the Threat and Intimidation charge in violation of Rule 206 was removed from Sanchez's record and all other charges were sustained with the punishment remaining the same. *fn3" (Rule 12(M) P 45).

 DISCUSSION

 I. Summary Judgment Standard

 Summary judgment is appropriate when the record shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party has the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. A material question of fact is a question which will be outcome determinative of an issue in the case. The Supreme Court has instructed that the facts material in a specific case shall be determined by the substantive law controlling the given case or issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). Once the moving party has met their burden, the opposing party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth specific facts in affidavits or otherwise show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321-327, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The opposing party "must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment and may not rest upon allegations or denials of the pleadings." Valentine v. Joliet Township High School Dist., 802 F.2d 981, 986 (7th Cir. 1986); see also Hughes v. Joliet Correctional Center, 931 F.2d 425, 428 (7th Cir. 1991). "The days are gone, if they ever existed, when the nonmoving party could sit back and simply poke holes in the moving party's summary judgment motion." Fitzpatrick v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, 916 F.2d 1254, 1256 (7th Cir. 1990). The court must view all evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Bowyer v. U.S. Dept. of Air Force, 804 F.2d 428, 430 (7th Cir. 1986). However, if the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-250. In making its determination, the Court's sole function is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to support a verdict in the nonmovant's favor, "whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Id. at 250.

 II. Disciplinary Hearing Due Process Requirements

 The plaintiff's burden in this Section 1983 claim is to prove that the Adjustment Committee violated his Constitutional right to Due Process when they refused to allow witnesses to be called and exculpatory evidence to be presented during his disciplinary hearing. Although a prisoner's rights are subject to restrictions imposed by the nature of the system to which he has been lawfully committed, he is not wholly deprived of constitutional protections. A prisoner may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Rasheed-Bey v. Duckworth, 969 F.2d 357, 361 (7th Cir. 1992). Nonetheless, "prison disciplinary proceedings are not part of a criminal prosecution, and the full panoply of rights due a defendant in such proceedings does not apply." Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 556, 41 L. Ed. 2d 935, 94 S. Ct. 2963 (1974). Overall, there must be a delicate balance between the needs and objectives of the penal institution and the general provisions of the Due Process Clause that are designed to protect every individual from arbitrary government action. Id.

 In Wolff v. McDonnell, the Supreme Court established the minimum requirements of procedural due process to be afforded prisoners in disciplinary proceedings. Before being deprived of a protected liberty interest, a prisoner is entitled to 1) advance (at least 24 hours before the hearing) written notice of the claimed violation; 2) the opportunity to be heard before an impartial decision maker; 3) the opportunity, when consistent with institutional safety or correctional goals, to call witnesses and present documentary evidence in his defense; and 4) a written statement by the fact-finder of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the ...


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