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Miranda v. Coutee

October 29, 2002

BRIAN MIRANDA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LT. MARILYN COUTEE, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JOHN TROUT, LAMARK CARTER, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois No. 99--MR--251 Honorable Robert J. Baron Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McDADE

UNPUBLISHED

The plaintiff, Brian Miranda, is an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC), incarcerated at Danville Correctional Center. Following a hearing by the prison adjustment committee, plaintiff was found guilty of damage or misuse of property and insolence. Plaintiff sought a writ of mandamus to compel the defendants, Marilyn Coutee, John Trout and Lamark Carter, to interview his witnesses and conduct a new adjustment committee hearing. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment which was granted by the trial court. Plaintiff appeals, and we reverse and remand.

FACTS

On August 1, 1998, correctional officer Daryl Henderson conducted a shakedown of plaintiff's cell. After completing the shakedown, Henderson noticed that his prescription eyeglasses were missing. Henderson later recovered his eyeglasses from the cell toilet. The frame of the glasses was twisted and the lenses were missing.

Henderson wrote a disciplinary report in which he accused plaintiff and plaintiff's cellmate of taking and destroying his eyeglasses. Several charges were listed in the disciplinary report, including damage or misuse of property, giving false information to an employee, insolence and theft.

Plaintiff was placed in temporary confinement pending a hearing by the adjustment committee on the charges. After receiving a copy of the disciplinary report, plaintiff requested in writing that two other inmates be called to testify. Plaintiff indicated "G. Guirch" would testify "that I was at his cell during shaking down, etc, etc." The request identified Guirch's cell number as WPC 111.

Plaintiff was allowed to testify at the hearing. However, the adjustment committee did not respond to his request to call the other inmates to testify. The adjustment committee summary indicated the "witnesses were not contacted because the requests were not clear."

The adjustment committee found plaintiff guilty of damage or misuse of property and insolence. As a consequence, plaintiff received three months' segregation, a demotion to Cgrade for six months and revocation of three months' good-conduct credit. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $157.95.

Plaintiff filed a grievance report in which he clarified that his witness's name was actually spelled "Guirsch," and he was in cell WPC 211 rather than WPC 111. Plaintiff's grievance was denied.

Plaintiff then filed a petition for writ of mandamus, generally alleging a violation of his due process rights as a result of defendants' failure to perform their ministerial duties. Plaintiff sought an order compelling defendants to interview his witnesses and conduct a new hearing.

Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court.

DISCUSSION

On appeal, plaintiff asserts the trial court erred in dismissing his petition because the facts show his due process rights were violated as a result of the failure to interview or call his witnesses to testify. Defendants contend they did not violate plaintiff's due process rights because the request was unclear. Specifically, defendants assert they could not locate Guirsch ...


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