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Cannon v. Quinley

August 17, 2004

[5] WILLIAM CANNON, JR., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
TROY QUINLEY, ROGER WALKER, CLETUS R. SHAW, RICHARD L. ROBINSON, STEPHEN D. MOTE, AND DONALD N. SNYDER, JR., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



[6] Appeal from Circuit Court of Livingston County No. 03MR109. Honorable Harold J. Frobish, Judge Presiding.

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

[8]  In September 2003, plaintiff, William Cannon, Jr., filed a pro se petition for writ of mandamus relief, alleging that defendants, Stephen D. Mote, warden of the Pontiac Correctional Center; Troy Quinley, a Pontiac correctional officer superintendent; Donald N. Snyder, Jr., the Director of the Department of Corrections (DOC); and DOC employees Roger Walker and Cletus R. Shaw, failed to follow DOC rules and violated his due process rights during September, October, and November 2002 disciplinary proceedings. One day later, the trial court sua sponte dismissed Cannon's petition for failure to state a cause of action. Cannon appeals; and we affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

[9]  I. BACKGROUND

[10]   A. September 11, 2002, Inmate Disciplinary Report

[11]   On September 11, 2002, DOC cited Cannon, who was then an inmate at Pontiac, in an inmate disciplinary report (IDR). The IDR, which was written by DOC correctional officer Michael Burger, indicated that around noon on September 11, 2002, Burger observed Cannon standing inside his cell at his door yelling. Burger told Cannon that he was going to issue an IDR because Cannon was violating a January 1, 2002, written memorandum from Quinley prohibiting excessive noise. Cannon responded by yelling, "Burger[,] you're a white racist mother fucking honkie! I don't care about a fucking ticket you white racist mother fucker!" The IDR charged Cannon with (1) willfully disobeying a facility rule (DOC Rule 404)--namely, the excessive-noise memorandum, and (2) insolence (DOC Rule 304). See 20 Ill. Adm. Code §504 app. A (Conway Greene CD-ROM June 2003).

[12]   A DOC correctional officer served Cannon with the IDR later on September 11, 2002. Cannon signed the IDR and wrote "Lt. Punke" on the witness-request form at the bottom of the IDR. However, he did not complete the section on the witness-request form indicating the matter about which the witness could testify.

[13]   On September 17, 2002, an adjustment committee conducted a disciplinary hearing on the charges alleged in the IDR. Cannon appeared and denied the charges. After considering the evidence, the committee found Cannon guilty of both charges. The committee's written final summary report indicated that the committee based its finding of guilt on the following: (1) Burger's observation that (a) Cannon was yelling in his cell and (b) Cannon called Burger a "racist mother fucking honkie" when Burger told him that he would issue the IDR; (2) Cannon was positively identified by "gallery chart"; and (3) Cannon had previously been found guilty of insolence (DOC Rule 304) (see 20 Ill. Adm. Code §504 app. A (Conway Greene CD-ROM June 2003)). The final summary report also indicated that the committee denied Cannon's request to have correctional officer Punke appear as a witness because his testimony would have been irrelevant as he was not present during the September 11, 2002, incident.

[14]   The committee recommended imposition of one month of disciplinary segregation, three months' demotion to C-grade status, and revocation of three months of commissary and "audio/visual" privileges. The chief administrative officer later imposed the recommended disciplinary actions.

[15]   B. September 29, 2002, IDR

[16]   On September 29, 2002, DOC cited Cannon in another IDR. The IDR, which was written by Burger, indicated that around noon on September 29, 2002, Burger, who was standing near the bottom of tower 19, observed Cannon standing inside his cell at his door yelling to another inmate. The IDR charged Cannon with willfully disobeying a facility rule (DOC Rule 404)--namely, the January 1, 2002, excessive-noise memorandum. See 20 Ill. Adm. Code §504 app. A (Conway Greene CD-ROM June 2003).

[17]   A DOC correctional officer served Cannon with the IDR later on September 29, 2002. Cannon did not sign the IDR or complete the witness-request form at the bottom of the IDR.

[18]   On October 3, 2002, an adjustment committee conducted a disciplinary hearing on the charge alleged in the IDR. Cannon appeared and denied the charge. He also submitted a written statement, indicating, in pertinent part, that (1) he was not guilty; (2) Burger could not see Cannon behind his cell door, which had a perforated opening, from where Burger stood in the lower tower; (3) Burger had fabricated the charge in retaliation for Cannon's filing prior griev-ances against him; (4) Cannon had never been issued the January 1, 2002, excessive-noise memorandum; and (5) "there [was] no official rule related to noise." After considering the evidence, the committee found Cannon guilty of the charge. The committee's written final summary report indicated that the committee based its finding of guilt on the following: (1) Burger's observation that Cannon was standing at his cell door yelling; (2) Cannon was positively identified by face and name; and (3) Cannon had previously been found guilty of willfully disobeying a facility rule (DOC Rule 404) (see 20 Ill. Adm. Code §504 app. A (Conway Greene CD-ROM June 2003)).

[19]   The committee recommended imposition of one month of disciplinary segregation, one month's demotion to C-grade status, and revocation of one month of commissary and "audio/visual" privileges. The chief administrative officer later imposed the recommended disciplinary actions.

[20]   C. November 5, 2002, IDR

[21]   On November 5, 2002, DOC cited Cannon in a third IDR. The IDR, which was written by Burger, indicated that around noon on November 5, 2002, Burger, who was standing near the bottom of tower 20, had the "WCH cage turn on count lights" and observed Cannon standing inside his cell at his door yelling to another inmate. The IDR also indicated that Cannon was identified by "WCH cage." The IDR charged Cannon with willfully disobeying a facility rule (DOC Rule 404)--namely, the January 1, 2002, excessive-noise memorandum. See 20 Ill. Adm. Code §504 app. A (Conway Greene CD-ROM June 2003).

[22]   A DOC correctional officer served Cannon with the IDR later on November 5, 2002. Cannon did not sign the IDR or complete the witness-request form at the bottom of the IDR.

[23]   On November 7, 2002, an adjustment committee conducted a disciplinary hearing on the charge alleged in the IDR. Cannon appeared and denied the charge. He also submitted a written statement, indicating, in pertinent part, that (1) he was not guilty; (2) "if you will go to [the] bottom of tower 19 and ask [Cannon] to come to [his cell] door, you will not be able to see [Cannon]"; (3) Burger had fabricated the charge in retaliation for Cannon's filing prior grievances against him; and (4) Cannon had never been issued the January 1, 2002, excessive-noise memorandum even though he had inquired about it. After considering the evidence, the committee found Cannon guilty of the charge. The committee's written final summary report indicated that the committee based its finding of guilt on the following: (1) Burger's observation that Cannon was standing at his cell door yelling and (2) the positive identification of Cannon by "WCH cage."

[24]   The committee recommended imposition of one month of disciplinary segregation, one month's demotion to C-grade status, and revocation of one month of commissary and "audio/visual" privileges. The chief administrative officer later imposed the recommended disciplinary actions.

[25]   D. Cannon's Grievance

[26]   Later in November 2002, Cannon filed a grievance as to the disciplinary proceedings regarding the September 11, 2002, September 29, 2002, and November 5, 2002, IDRs, alleging, in pertinent part, as follows: (1) Burger had fabricated the charges against him; (2) the adjustment committee failed to (a) state its reasons for disregarding his exonerating evidence, (b) consider all relevant material, and (c) call his requested witness; (3) he never received the January 1, 2002, excessive-noise memorandum or noise-level guidelines; and (4) DOC did not properly promulgate a rule prohibiting certain noise levels.

[27]   In December 2002, a grievance officer recommended that Cannon's grievance be denied, upon determining that (1) the committee complied with DOC Rule 504 (20 Ill. Adm. Code §504 app. A (Conway Greene CD-ROM June 2003)), and provided Cannon with due process during the disciplinary proceedings and (2) the grievance officer was reasonably sure that Cannon committed the charged offenses. Later that month, the chief administrative officer concurred in the grievance officer's recommendation.

[28]   Cannon later appealed the chief administrative officer's decision. In March 2003, the administrative review board and the DOC Director denied Cannon's grievance.

[29]   E. Cannon's Petition for Writ of Mandamus

[30]   In September 2003, Cannon filed a pro se petition for mandamus relief, alleging, in pertinent part, that (1) he did not receive a copy of the January 1, 2002, excessive-noise memorandum until after being issued the November 5, 2002, IDR; (2) no noise-level guidelines were ever issued to Cannon or other inmates; (3) DOC did not properly promulgate a rule prohibiting certain noise levels; (4) the adjustment committee disregarded Cannon's exonerating evidence without stating its reasons for doing so; (5) the committee failed to (a) review and consider all relevant material, (b) provide staff assistance to investigate his defense that Burger, when standing at tower 19, could not see Cannon standing inside his cell, (c) call his requested witness, and (d) state the reasons for recommending the disciplinary action against Cannon; and (6) the committee's findings were not sufficiently detailed. Attached to Cannon's petition, in pertinent part, were the following: (1) copies of the IDRs written by Burger; (2) Cannon's written statements presented at the October and November 2002 disciplinary hearings; (3) the committee's final written summary reports; (4) Cannon's grievance; (5) the grievance officer's report; (6) the board's and the DOC Director's denial of Cannon's grievance; (7) copies of three previous adjustment committee final written summary reports regarding IDRs issued to other inmates, in which the IDRs were expunged because correctional officers could not see inside cells from their vantage points; (8) a copy of a prior adjustment committee final written summary report regarding an IDR issued to Cannon when he was previously in east cell house, which indicated that the east cell house policy was that "catwalk staff" must have a witness for noise-violation offenders who are housed behind doors with perforated openings; and (9) a copy of the January 1, 2002, excessive-noise memorandum, which was addressed to inmates in the west cell house and stated, in pertinent part, that "[i]nmates who do not comply with the noise[-]level guidelines will be issued [IDRs] and progressive discipline will be rendered."

[31]   On September 26, 2003, one day after Cannon filed his mandamus petition, the trial court dismissed it in a docket entry, which ...


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