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HAMILTON v. PETERS

March 19, 1996

CEDRIC HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
HOWARD A. PETERS II, HENRY SUTTON, MELODY FORD, STEVE GODLOCK, and CALVIN DREW, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PLUNKETT

 This case is before the Court on the defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff Cedric Hamilton ("Hamilton"), a prisoner in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections ("IDOC") who was once in a work release program, has sued the defendants under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for alleged violation of his fourth and eighth amendment rights. For the reasons set forth below, we grant the motion on the issue of qualified immunity, and we therefore grant judgment in favor of the defendants on all claims.

 Facts

 Hamilton is an inmate in the custody of IDOC. Defendant Howard A. Peters II is the former director of IDOC. Defendant Calvin Drew ("Drew") is a Senior Public Service Administrator at the Westside Community Correctional Center ("WCCC"), while defendants Steve Godlock ("Godlock") and Melody Ford ("Ford") are correctional counselors there. Defendant Henry Sutton ("Sutton") is a correctional residents counselor at WCCC.

 As a result of these disciplinary infractions, Hamilton's work release status was revoked, and he was transferred to Joliet, a maximum security facility. He remained there for about four weeks, sharing a cell with an inmate who smoked and receiving only minimal toiletries and infrequent showers. Then he was transferred to the Henry Hill Correctional Center ("Hill") in Galesburg, Illinois.

 On October 13, 1993, Hamilton filed a grievance to appeal the disciplinary committee's actions. On October 21, 1993, Hamilton received a copy of the written conclusions of the disciplinary committee at WCCC. The report stated that the committee's determination of guilt was based upon "confidential information received from confidential sources and conflicting statements received from resident, and the report as written. Information about confidential witness are [sic] kept in chief of security office." (Compl. at 8.)

 On December 13, 1993, Hamilton appeared before IDOC's administrative review board at Hill. On February 4, 1994, he received the review board's findings, which recommended that the disciplinary ticket be remanded to WCCC to be rewritten and reheard. On March 25, 1994, Hamilton was given a subsequent hearing at Hill, at which he requested assistance to prepare a defense, including the presentation of witnesses. He did not indicate his innocence or guilt at the time. He alleges that he was told by the chairperson that the warden would be informed of his continuance request and that he would be notified later of a new hearing date. Instead, two days later, he was informed that he had been found guilty of the charges in the rewritten ticket and that the WCCC disciplinary committee's actions had been upheld.

 Hamilton filed this action pro se on May 24, 1994. He asserts that the defendants' conduct violated his due process rights because he was not allowed to present the testimony of any witnesses on his own behalf (other than his own) at the disciplinary hearing at WCCC and because the disciplinary committee relied upon information obtained from a confidential informant. He also asserts that the revocation of his work release status and the failure of the administrative review board to grant him a continuance on the rewritten disciplinary ticket violated his due process rights. Finally, he contends that the conditions of his confinement while at Joliet violated the eighth amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Hamilton does not seek transfer back to WCCC; rather, he requests damages in the amount of $ 2,500,000 from each of the defendants in their official capacities.

 Discussion

 A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is subject to the same standard as a motion brought under Rule 12(b)(6). Alexander v. City of Chicago, 994 F.2d 333, 335 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing United States v. Wood, 925 F.2d 1580, 1581 (7th Cir. 1991)). Thus, a motion for judgment on the pleadings will be granted only if "'it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim for relief.'" GATX Leasing Corp. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co., 64 F.3d 1112, 1114 (7th Cir. 1995) (quoting Thomason v. Nachtrieb, 888 F.2d 1202, 1204 (7th Cir. 1989)). And, as with a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), we must "view the facts . . . in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Id. (citing Craigs, Inc. v. General Elec. Capital Corp., 12 F.3d 686, 688 (7th Cir. 1993)).

 We consider first whether he defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. The doctrine of qualified immunity protects governmental officials engaged in discretionary functions from suit "as long as their conduct does not violate a 'clearly established' constitutional right 'of which a reasonable person would have known.'" Gregorich v. Lund, 54 F.3d 410, 413 (7th Cir. 1995) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 73 L. Ed. 2d 396, 102 S. Ct. 2727 (1982)). To determine if the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity, we must consider first whether Hamilton has alleged adequately a violation of a constitutional right and then whether the applicable constitutional ...


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