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TERRELL v. GODINEZ

June 3, 1997

Jimmie Terrell, Plaintiff,
v.
Salvadore Godinez, Former Warden of stateville C.C., et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons discussed hereafter, Defendants' motion is granted.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Jimmie Terrell is serving a life sentence for murder. Currently, and at all times relevant to the instant suit, Terrell was incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois. Terrell resides in cell 236 of F-House.

 On August 25, 1994, correctional officers performed a routine shakedown of F-House. Dangerous contraband -- such as metal rods, a metal club, and a knife -- was found in the ventilation system accessible through Terrell's cell. Terrell was issued a disciplinary report for possession of the dangerous contraband.

 On August 31, 1994, the Adjustment Committee found Terrell guilty and recommended punishment as follows: revocation of one year of good-time credit; denial of commissary for three months; denial of audio/visual for three months; one year at C-grade (he was at A-grade); and one year in segregation. Terrell disagreed with the findings of the Adjustment Committee and thus filed a grievance.

 Terrell argued that the contraband was not his. He claimed that the ventilation system where the contraband was found was not only accessible through his cell, but also, seven other cells -- the cell adjacent to his cell, the two cells one floor below his cell, the two cells one floor above his cell, and the two cells two floors above his cell. Thus, he argued that the contraband must have been placed in the ventilation system by an inmate in one of the seven other cells.

 The grievance officer found much credibility in Terrell's position. He noted that Terrell had never been in this type of trouble in the past; in fact, Terrell had no violations for anything in several years. Furthermore, prior to the incident, Terrell requested that the ventilation cover in his cell be welded shut. The grievance officer therefore recommended a polygraph test.

 As a result of the grievance officer's report, Terrell's punishment was reduced to three months of segregation (instead of one year), three months denial of audio/visual, three months at C-grade (instead of one year), three months of good-time credit revocation (instead of one year), and no denial of commissary privileges (instead of three months).

 Still not pleased, Terrell filed a grievance with the Administrative Review Board on November 16, 1994. A polygraph examination was conducted on January 25, 1995. A hearing was held before the Administrative Review Board on February 7, 1995. On May 4, 1995, the Administrative Review Board received word that in the opinion of the polygraph examiner Terrell was lying, the contraband did in fact belong to him.

 Based on the evidence submitted, the Administrative Review Board concluded that Terrell committed the violation and his grievance was therefore denied. His punishment, however, was reduced to sixty days in segregation only.

 Terrell initiated the action in this court under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 claiming that he was deprived of a protected liberty interest without due process of law. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment.

 II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT - STANDARD OF REVIEW

 Under FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c), summary judgment shall be granted if the record shows that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Black v. Henry Pratt Co., 778 F.2d 1278, 1281 (7th Cir. 1985). The moving party has the burden of providing proper documentary evidence to show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 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). Unquestionably, in determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the evidence is to be taken in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142, 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1970). Once the moving ...


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