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Corey A. Taylor v. R. Shelton Frey

January 24, 2011

COREY A. TAYLOR,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
R. SHELTON FREY, KEN BARTLEY, AND DAVID MITCHELL,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Alexander County. No. 07-MR-24 Honorable Charles C. Cavaness, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Chapman

NOTICE

The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Peti tion for Rehearing or th e disposition of the same.

PRESIDING JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Goldenhersh and Welch concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Corey A. Taylor, inmate No. B17010 in the Department of Corrections (Department), appeals pro se from the dismissal of his amended complaint for mandamus relief, a declaratory judgment, and a permanent injunction. The complaint was dismissed on the motion of the defendants, R. Shelton Frey, a former warden of Tamms Correctional Center (Tamms), Ken Bartley, the then-current warden of Tamms, and David Mitchell, an employee of the Department. Taylor seeks the reversal of the trial court's order and the remand of the cause to the circuit court. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Taylor is an inmate in the Department who is serving a 75-year sentence for first-degree murder and concurrent 75-year sentences for robbery and burglary. People v. Taylor, 235 Ill. App. 3d 763 (1992). His projected release date is February 19, 2039. Taylor has been housed at Tamms since September 2, 1998. Between that date and May 22, 2007, he received 132 disciplinary tickets for violating various institutional rules.

On April 20, 2007, Taylor filed pro se a complaint seeking mandamus relief, a declaratory judgment, and a permanent injunction. On October 22, 2007, he filed an amended complaint, in which he again sought mandamus, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Taylor asserted that his right to due process had been violated in various ways in disciplinary proceedings that had been conducted at Tamms between April 29, 2005, and March 20, 2006. He alleged that as a result of the allegedly improper disciplinary proceedings, he had been assigned to disciplinary segregation status for a total of 22 months, he had been reduced to C-grade for 25 months, and his commissary privileges had been restricted for 25 months. Taylor also lost one month of good-conduct credit when he was found guilty of unauthorized solicitation of personal information. He claimed that his delay in filing his complaint was excusable because of a high turnover rate of chief administrative officers at Tamms, his efforts to resolve his grievances with successive chief administrative officers, and his attempts to solicit legal help from entities outside of the penitentiary prior to seeking redress in the circuit court.

Taylor sought an order of mandamus to compel the defendants to hold new hearings on the disciplinary tickets that complied with state and federal due process requirements, a declaration that the disciplinary proceedings had violated his right to due process under state and federal law, and an injunction prohibiting the defendants from abrogating his due process rights in future disciplinary proceedings. Appended to the complaint were copies of adjustment committee summaries, administrative review board decisions, and four letters that had been directed to the plaintiff from Department officials, the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, and a prisoners' rights organization. Three of these letters postdated the original complaint.

On November 27, 2007, the defendants filed a combined motion pursuant to section 2-619.1 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2006)) to dismiss the amended complaint. They asserted that the complaint was subject to a dismissal under section 2-615 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2006)) because it failed to state a cause of action. They argued that the complaint and its attachments established that in the only disciplinary proceeding that had resulted in the loss of good-conduct credit, Taylor had been afforded all the due process to which he was entitled. They also argued that the other disciplinary actions did not implicate his due process rights because they had not resulted in any loss of good-conduct credit. They argued further that his complaint was barred by laches because it was untimely filed.

The defendants asserted that the mandamus count of the complaint was subject to a dismissal under section 2-619(a)(9) of the Code (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9) (West 2006)). They contended that the exhibits to the complaint and a document in Taylor's master file related to the only disciplinary action for which he had lost good-conduct credit established that he had failed to request any witnesses and that he had been afforded adequate due process in the proceedings. A copy of Taylor's May 10, 2005, disciplinary report for solicitation of unauthorized personal information was appended to the defendants' motion. The witness-request form was still attached to the form. An affidavit of the Tamms records keeper attested that the copy of the disciplinary report was true and correct.

On February 7, 2008, Taylor filed a motion in opposition to the defendants' motion to dismiss his complaint. He reiterated the allegations of his complaint, asserted that he had provided a reasonable explanation for his failure to file the complaint within six months of the events that formed the basis of his complaint, and contended that laches was inapplicable because the defendants had failed to assert that they had been prejudiced by his delay in filing the complaint. On April 2, 2008, the judge dismissed the complaint in a docket sheet entry. He found that mandamus relief was barred by the doctrine of laches because the complaint had not been filed in a timely manner and that Taylor had failed to provide a reasonable excuse for his dilatory filing. He also ruled that the ...


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