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Jeramey R. Brown v. Joe Gulash

March 22, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. Phil Gilbert District Judge


This matter comes before the Court on the motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Joseph Gulash, Robert Hertz, Robert Hollenbeck, Brad Wells, John Lakin, Dennis Fischer, Renee Stephenson, Rodney Schaake, Rick Pyatt, Maynard Hill, Steve Huch, Pete Moore, Bob Richert, Officer Mark Spurgeon, Mike Hare, Matt Werner, Don McNaughton, Maurice Lemarr, Myron Thompson, Officer Jeff Hartsoe, Jody Collman, Craig Richert (collectively, the "Jail Defendants"), Jon McGuire, Kyle Napp, Jim Buckley, Bill Mudge, John Gilbert, (collectively, the "County Defendants"), Travis, John Doe*fn1 and Madison County, Illinois (Doc. 186). Plaintiff Jeramey R. Brown has responded to the motion (Doc. 230), and the defendants have replied to that response (Doc. 236).

I. Background

Brown was convicted of murdering Michael Keller, a resident of Granite City, Illinois. Prior to his trial, Brown was housed at the Madison County Jail ("Jail"). His conviction was reversed on appeal, and the case was remanded for a new trial. While awaiting a new trial, Brown was again housed in the Jail from January 2006 until July 2008. Brown's complaints in this case arose from that detention. Brown is currently incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center.

On threshold review, the Court separated Brown's Complaint into ten counts and disposed of a number of them. The counts relevant to the pending motion are: C COUNT 1: Against defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Fischer, and Madison County for violating Brown's right to freely exercise his religion in violation of the First Amendment by denying him the opportunity to fast during Ramadan; C COUNT 2: Against defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Fischer, McGuire, Gilbert, and Madison County, Illinois for violating Brown's right to due process of law by confining him in administrative segregation for sixteen months;

C COUNT 3: Against defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Fischer, Gilbert, and

Madison County for violating Brown's First Amendment rights by restricting his ability to have magazines and books;

C COUNT 4: Against defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Gilbert, and Madison

County for violating Brown's right to due process of law by denying him adequate exercise;

C COUNT 5: Against defendants Gulash, Hertz, Hollenbeck, Lakin, Fischer, Stephenson,

Schaake, Pyatt, Hill, Hugh, Moore, Richert, Spurgeon, Hare, Werner, McNaughton, Lemarr, Thompson, Hartsoe, Collman, Richert, Gilbert, and Madison County for violating Brown's right to due process of law by subjecting him to conditions amounting to punishment--specifically loud noises depriving Brown of adequate sleep; C COUNT 8: Against defendants Gulash, Hertz, Wells, Knapp, Buckley, Mudge, Gilbert, and Madison County for violating Brown's Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel by monitoring Brown's telephone calls with his attorneys. In its threshold review order, the Court dismissed Brown's claims in Count 8 based on an alleged Fourth Amendment violation based on the monitoring of his telephone calls generally; and C COUNT 10: Against Defendants Gulash, Hertz, Wells, Lakin, Knapp, Buckley, Mudge, and Madison County for reading and copying Plaintiff's outgoing mail--including his legal mail--in violation of Plaintiff's rights.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Spath v. Hayes Wheels Int'l-Ind., Inc., 211 F.3d 392, 396 (7th Cir. 2000). The reviewing court must construe the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Chelios v. Heavener, 520 F.3d 678, 685 (7th Cir. 2008); Spath, 211 F.3d at 396.Where the moving party fails to meet its strict burden of proof, a court cannot enter summary judgment for the moving party even if the opposing party fails to present relevant evidence in response to the motion. Cooper v. Lane, 969 F.2d 368, 371 (7th Cir. 1992).

In responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party may not simply rest upon the allegations contained in the pleadings but must present specific facts to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-26; Johnson v. City of Fort Wayne, 91 F.3d 922, 931 (7th Cir. 1996). A genuine issue of material fact is not demonstrated by the mere existence of "some alleged factual dispute between the parties," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247, or by "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Michas v. Health Cost Controls of Ill., Inc., 209 F.3d 687, 692 (7th Cir. 2000). Rather, a genuine issue of material fact exists only if "a fair-minded jury could return a verdict for the [nonmoving party] on the evidence presented." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252; accord Michas, 209 F.3d at 692.

If the moving party is defending the claim at trial and does not have the burden of proof, it need not provide evidence negating the plaintiff's claim. It is enough to point to the absence of evidence to support an essential element of the plaintiff's claim for which it carries the burden of proof at trial Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23, 325. Where the defendant has pointed to a lack of evidence for one of the essential elements of a plaintiff's claim, if the plaintiff fails to provide evidence sufficient to establish that element, there is no genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23.

Before moving to the issues involved in this motion, it is necessary to correct a misconception of the defendants about the evidence necessary to withstand summary judgment. In their reply, they state that self-serving affidavits without corroborating evidence cannot, on their own, resist summary judgment. They are wrong. Courts routinely find that a nonmoving party's own affidavit can constitute affirmative evidence to defeat a summary judgment motion. See Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 771 (7th Cir. 2003). Cases that have made the statement that self-serving, uncorroborated and conclusory affidavits are not sufficient to withstand summary judgment have found the particular affidavits in issue insufficient not because they were self-serving but because they were not made on personal knowledge. Id. at 772. In truth, [p]rovided that the evidence meets the usual requirements for evidence presented on summary judgment-including the requirements that it be based on personal knowledge and that it set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial-a self-serving affidavit is an acceptable method for a non-moving party to present evidence of disputed material facts.

Id. at 773. Much of Brown's evidence in this case satisfied this standard, and the Court will therefore consider it in opposition to the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

III. Analysis

The Court addresses each count or argument in turn, setting forth the relevant facts (viewed in Brown's favor), law and analysis as necessary to the Court's decision.

A. Count 2: Confinement in Segregation Unit

During his initial confinement in the Jail beginning in April 2001, Brown was housed in the general jail population. However, Brown was reported for being involved in several fights, throwing urine and feces on and trying to stab another detainee and threatening defendants Jail Superintendent Joseph Gulash, Lieutenant Hollenbeck and other Jail personnel. After threats to Jail personnel in January 2002, Brown was classified as a high security threat. Immediately after one particular altercation between Brown and another detainee in October 2002, Brown was moved temporarily into segregation without a hearing to separate him from the other detainee.

A third detainee advised jail personnel that there would be more trouble between himself and Brown if Brown returned to the cell block.

Gulash viewed Brown's behavior as threatening to the security and order of the Jail and therefore, in October 2002, moved Brown to the segregation unit, ostensibly for the safety of Brown, other detainees and Jail personnel. The segregation unit had solid doors, so Brown's placement there served the additional purpose of preventing him from throwing urine or feces on Jail personnel. Brown never received a hearing regarding the decision to change his housing. He remained in the segregation unit until he left the Jail in April 2003 to be incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville"). At Stateville, Brown was housed in the general population with no apparent problem.

After Brown's initial conviction was reversed, he was sent back to the Jail in January 2006 to await a new trial. Gulash continued to consider Brown a high security threat based on his prior behavior at the Jail and, without giving Brown a hearing or looking into his conduct at Stateville, decided to house him in the segregation unit again. Gulash made this decision to ensure the safety of Brown, other detainees and Jail personnel, not for disciplinary reasons. Brown remained in segregation until his conviction in his new trial in July 2008.

Conditions in the segregation unit were harsh for Brown. He was not allowed out of his cell except to see visitors once a week or for nurses' visits. True to its name, segregation meant Brown was socially isolated from other detainees. He did not have a television or source of music and was not allowed access to a law library or recreation yard. He was not allowed to receive books or periodicals through the mail or to conduct unmonitored telephone calls with attorneys representing him in a civil case.

Brown argues the defendants violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when they confined him in segregation without a hearing or other due process of law. When a pretrial detainee complains that conditions or restrictions imposed by his detention deprive him of liberty without due process of law, "the proper inquiry is whether those conditions amount to punishment of the detainee. For under the Due Process Clause, a detainee may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of law." Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979) (footnotes omitted). In a nutshell, the government may detain a defendant charged with a crime, but it may not punish him. Id. at 536.

Whether a restriction imposed during pretrial detention amounts to punishment or a mere regulatory restraint depends on "whether the disability is imposed for the purpose of punishment or whether it is but an incident of some other legitimate governmental purpose." Id. at 538. If there is no expressed intent to punish, the determination generally turns on whether there is a legitimate non-punitive purpose for the restriction and whether the restriction is excessive to achieve that purpose. Id. (citing Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 168-69 (1963)). "Thus, if a particular condition or restriction of pretrial detention is reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective, it does not, without more, amount to 'punishment.'" Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 539. If the restriction is not reasonably related to a legitimate governmental purpose, the Court may infer that the purpose of the restriction is punishment. Id.

The effective, safe and secure management of the facility in which a detainee is housed is a legitimate non-punitive purpose for imposing restrictions on the detainee. Id. at 540. As a result, while a jail cannot place a detainee in segregation to punish him, it may do so to protect him from future harm by other detainees or to protect jail staff from him. Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 438 (7th Cir. 2002). Whether a restriction will further the legitimate purpose of maintaining institutional security, order and effective management is a matter "peculiarly within the province and professional expertise of corrections officials, and, in the absence of substantial evidence in the record to indicate that the officials have exaggerated their response to these considerations, courts should ordinarily defer to their expert judgment in such matters." Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 827 (1974), quoted in Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 540 n. 23.

In the case at bar, the Jail Defendants argue that Brown was placed in segregation not for a punitive purpose but to deter additional confrontations with other detainees in the Jail, thereby protecting Brown, the other detainees and Jail personnel. Additionally, placement in segregation diffused the danger to Jail personnel posed by Brown's threats of violence and prevent Brown from throwing urine and feces on others, as he had done in the past. These are clearly legitimate purposes; Brown's conduct disrupted the Jail's operations and had the potential for confrontation and injury, and his presence in the general population threatened to spur violence from other inmates against him. There is no evidence of an express intent to punish Brown by placing him in segregation in 2002, and his placement there facilitated the effective, safe and secure management of the Jail.

Furthermore, Brown's placement in segregation was not an excessive response to his behavior in light of his demonstrated inability to live peacefully in the general population and of the threats of another detainee to inflict injury on Brown. As for the lack of creature comforts such as television or contact with other inmates, nothing in the Constitution required the Jail to make special accommodations for Brown to make him more comfortable than any other inmate in segregation. To the extent other deprivations may have violated the Constitution, the Court addresses those issues in its discussion of other counts of this lawsuit.

Brown's placement in segregation in 2006, when he returned to the Jail, likewise was reasonably related to the legitimate non-punitive purpose of maintaining institutional security and order and facilitating effective management. Jail personnel knew Brown's history of conflict, disruption and threats from his earlier stay in the jail and took appropriate steps to prevent its recurrence in his second stay. The Constitution did not require Jail personnel to investigate his behavior at Stateville or to give him a second chance to behave well where, in the judgment of Jail personnel based on Brown's prior conduct, he still posed a threat to the safety, security and orderly management of the institution. Again, placement in segregation was not excessive in light of the perceived threat to himself and to others that he posed by being in the general population. Because Brown's placement in segregation was not punitive but preventative, the Jail Defendants and Madison County are entitled to summary judgment on Count 2.

Furthermore, in the absence of an underlying constitutional violation, any legal advice defendants Gilbert or McGuire, who were Madison County assistant state's attorneys at the time, might have given the Jail Defendants related to Brown's placement in segregation would not have violated the Constitution either. Thus, Gilbert and McGuire are also entitled to summary judgment on Count 2.

B. Count 3: Denial of Books and Periodicals*fn2

Gulash testified that the Jail has a library and allows detainees to visit it "where time permits" after submitting a written request. According to Jail policy, detainees are allowed to remove two non-legal paperback books at a time; they cannot remove legal books. Gulash testified that Brown was allowed to use the library even when he was in segregation. Brown, on the other hand, denies that the jail had a general library, and the Court must take his assertion as true and find, for the purposes of this motion, that he was unable to receive books through a library at the Jail.

In addition, beginning in May 2006, the Jail did not allow detainees to receive any books by mail, even those mailed directly by bookstores or publishers. Gulash implemented this policy knowing Brown was soon expecting to receive books by mail directly from a bookstore. When those and other books arrived at the Jail, Jail personnel placed them in Brown's locker (to which he did not have access) without notifying him of their arrival. Brown requested an exception to the rule for certain self-help, educational and religious books, but his requests were denied. Gulash granted Brown's request to receive legal books as long as they came from his attorney. However, when Brown's attorney sent him a book about civil litigation, Gulash said the exception applied only to books about criminal law. The Jail also refused to allow Brown to receive a variety of magazines by mail on the basis that it deemed them "pornography."

Brown argues the defendants violated his First Amendment rights, applicable to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, see Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 666 (1925); Ben's Bar, Inc. v. Village of Somerset, 316 F.3d 702, 707 (7th Cir. 2003), by denying him access to books and magazines. Clearly, the restrictions on reading materials Brown can receive infringes on his constitutional rights. See Antonelli v. Sheahan, 81 F.3d 1422, 1433 (7th Cir. 1996). However, "when a prison [or jail] regulation impinges on inmates' constitutional rights, the regulation is valid if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S.

78, 89 (1987); accord Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401, 413 (1989) (applying standard to regulations on publications sent to facility). In making this determination, courts should be mindful that Running a prison is an inordinately difficult undertaking that requires expertise, planning, and the commitment of resources, all of which are peculiarly within the province of the legislative and executive branches of government. Prison administration is, moreover, a task that has been ...

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