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Samuel Collins, Jr., #B-35214 v. Dewin Lee Ryker

November 17, 2011


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


This action is before the Court on the petition of Samuel Collins, Jr., who seeks a writ of mandamus against various officials and employees of the State of Illinois for alleged deprivations of his constitutional rights. Petitioner is an inmate in the Pontiac Correctional Center, and was at all times relevant to this action incarcerated in the Lawrence Correctional Center. He was convicted of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, and is serving a twelve year sentence on each count.

This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28

U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Upon careful review of the petition and supporting exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its authority under § 1915A and shall dismiss this action.

The Petition

Petitioner filed his petition for mandamus invoking 735 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/14-101, and asserts that Respondents violated his constitutional rights to due process in their conduct of his disciplinary hearings. Specifically, Petitioner was charged with several conduct violations on March 11 and 12, 2009 (Doc. 1-2, p. 1-4). He was found guilty on each charge, and was punished by a total of six months demotion to C grade, six months in segregation, revocation of three months good conduct credit, a disciplinary transfer to another prison, and audio/visual restrictions. Petitioner complains that the disciplinary hearing committee refused to accept written testimony or his plea of temporary insanity, refused to hear his witnesses, and conducted the hearing in an unfair and biased manner. He requests this Court to compel the Respondents (Lawrence Correctional Center Warden Ryker, and Adjustment Committee members Goins and Nelsen) to expunge the "unlawful" actions of the disciplinary committee from his files, and to hold a new hearing where he can defend himself against the charges. He also seeks monetary compensation for the violation of his constitutional rights.


Prior to filing the instant petition, Petitioner had filed on March 2, 2010, a "leave to file petition of mandamus" in this Court, styled Collins v. Ryker, Case No. 10-cv-169-JPG. This Court dismissed that action with prejudice on September 24, 2010, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. In that previous action, Petitioner did not describe any specific incidents, charges, or punishments imposed on him, but merely alleged that the "Lawrence Adjustment Committee is unconstitutional because it fails to adhere to Petitioner['s] procedural due process rights" in dealing with his disciplinary charges (Doc. 1, p. 2, in Collins v. Ryker, Case No. 10-cv-169-JPG).

It is not possible to discern whether the present action is Petitioner's attempt to renew the claims that were dismissed with prejudice in Case No. 10-cv-169-JPG, because of the lack of specific allegations in that case. Even if the present petition involves entirely new claims, however, a federal mandamus action cannot provide the relief he seeks. Federal courts have no authority to grant mandamus relief against state officials, which is what Petitioner has requested here. See Robinson v. Illinois, 752 F. Supp. 248, 248-49 (N.D. Ill. 1990) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1361, which restricts federal mandamus jurisdiction to actions against "an officer or employee of the United States or any agency thereof") ("Federal courts have no general power to compel action by state officers[.]"). Thus, this Court cannot order Respondents to expunge Petitioner's disciplinary records or to conduct a new hearing in the present action, nor can monetary compensation be ordered.

Had Petitioner filed his claim as a civil rights action under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1983, he would similarly have failed to state a claim upon which relief might be granted. Prison disciplinary hearings satisfy procedural due process requirements where an inmate is provided: (1) written notice of the charge against the prisoner twenty four (24) hours prior to the hearing; (2) the right to appear in person before an impartial body; (3) the right to call witnesses and to present physical/documentary evidence, but only when doing so will not unduly jeopardize the safety of the institution or correctional goals; ...

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