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Lucas v. Taylor

June 16, 2004

[5] LOSARDO LUCAS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ANNE R. TAYLOR AND THE PRISONER REVIEW BOARD, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



[6] Appeal from Circuit Court of Sangamon County. No. 02MR183. Honorable Leo J. Zappa, Jr., Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Turner

[8]  In April 2002, plaintiff, Losardo Lucas, a prisoner in the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC), filed a pro se petition for mandamus against defendants, Anne R. Taylor and the Prisoner Review Board (PRB), alleging (1) he did not receive procedural due process before the PRB and (2) his good-conduct credits were revoked before they were "earned." In July 2002, defendants filed a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted.

[9]  On appeal, plaintiff argues the trial court erred in dismissing his petition. We affirm.

[10]   I. BACKGROUND

[11]   Plaintiff was sentenced to 42 years in prison in 1985 for murder, weapon possession, and assault, and he is currently an inmate at the Tamms Correctional Center. In April 2002, plaintiff filed a pro se petition for mandamus, naming the PRB and its chairman, Taylor, as defendants. Plaintiff alleged the PRB revoked good-conduct credits without giving him 24-hour notice of a hearing, a hearing where he could call witnesses or present evidence, or a written statement relied on by the PRB in making its decision. Also, plaintiff claimed the PRB revoked good-conduct credits he "had not yet earned." For example, plaintiff alleged by the time he had served 5 years in prison, the PRB had improperly revoked 8 years and 11 months' worth of credits. In his prayer for relief, plaintiff asked the trial court to compel defendants to provide due process at future hearings and to restore 12 years and 3 months of his revoked good-conduct credits.

[12]   In May 2002, defendants filed a motion for a bill of particulars, requesting plaintiff specify which inmate disciplinary reports were the basis for the revocation of his 12 years and 3 months of good-conduct credits. In his June 2002 response, plaintiff claimed the PRB never informed him when it approved the DOC Director's decision to revoke his good-conduct credit. Plaintiff did attach numerous disciplinary reports to his response, along with DOC documents indicating the amount of good-conduct credits that had been revoked over several years. The documents revealed instances where the adjustment committee recommended revocation of plaintiff's good-conduct credits and the DOC Director and the PRB approved the recommendation. In several instances, the DOC Director reduced the amount recommended by the adjustment committee and the PRB approved the reduction. On multiple occasions, plaintiff refused to appear before the PRB or refused to speak to the panel.

[13]   In July 2002, defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to sections 2-615 and 2-619(a)(9) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615, 2-619(a)(9) (West 2002)), alleging plaintiff failed to show a clear, legal right to a due-process hearing before the PRB and defendants had no ministerial duty to restore plaintiff's good-conduct credits. Defendants also claimed plaintiff was not required to receive his good-conduct credit on a daily basis instead of upon his arrival to prison.

[14]   In December 2002, the trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss. The court found defendants had no involvement in the awarding of statutory good time and were not a part of DOC. The court also held that although a prisoner is entitled to a due-process hearing before the prison adjustment committee pursuant to Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 41 L.Ed. 2d 935, 94 S.Ct. 2963 (1974), the Wolff requirements did not apply to the PRB. The court found the PRB "reviews the recommendations of [DOC] and the [p]laintiff is not entitled to two due[-]process hearings as he has argued in his complaint."

[15]   In January 2003, plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider, claiming the PRB is required to conduct a due-process hearing pursuant to Wolff as only the PRB can revoke good-conduct credits. Defendants filed a response, claiming the PRB is a reviewing body and is not required to conduct a formal hearing when revoking good time. In August 2003, the trial court denied plaintiff's motion. This appeal followed.

[16]   II. ANALYSIS

[17]   Plaintiff argues the trial court erred in dismissing his mandamus complaint. We disagree.

[18]   A. Petition for Mandamus

[19]   "Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy to enforce, as a matter of right, 'the performance of official duties by a public officer where no exercise of discretion on his part is involved.'" Lewis E. v. Spagnolo, 186 Ill. 2d 198, 229, 710 N.E.2d 798, 813 (1999), quoting Madden v. Cronson, 114 Ill. 2d 504, 514, 501 N.E.2d 1267, 1272 (1986). A court will award a writ of mandamus "only if a plaintiff establishes a clear, affirmative right to relief, a clear duty of the public official to act, and a clear authority in the public official to comply with the writ." People ex rel. Ryan v. Roe, 201 Ill. 2d 552, 555, 778 N.E.2d 701, 703 (2002). A plaintiff must set forth every material fact necessary to show he or she is entitled to a writ of mandamus, and the plaintiff bears the burden to establish a clear, legal right to it. Chicago Ass'n of Commerce & Industry v. Regional Transportation Authority, 86 Ill. 2d 179, 185, 427 N.E.2d 153, 156 (1981).

[20]   A decision to grant or deny mandamus will not be reversed on appeal unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Howell v. Snyder, 326 Ill. App. 3d 450, 453, 760 N.E.2d 1009, 1011 (2001). On appeal, this court reviews "de novo, however, the granting of a motion to dismiss ...


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