from Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 15MR915 Honorable
Rudolph M. Braud, Jr., Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Pope and Knecht concurred in the judgment
1 Plaintiff, Aaron Fillmore, who is in the custody of the
Illinois Department of Corrections (Department), sued three
officers of the Department, Gladyse C. Taylor, Leif M.
McCarthy, and Eldon L. Cooper, for failing to follow
mandatory legal procedures before imposing discipline upon
him for violating prison rules. He sought a writ of
mandamus, declaratory relief, and a common-law writ
of certiorari. The trial court granted a motion by
defendants to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a
cause of action. See 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2016). Plaintiff
2 In our de novo review, we agree with the trial
court that the count for declaratory judgment, count II, is
legally insufficient in its entirety. We disagree, however,
that the remaining two counts are legally insufficient in
their entirety. Therefore, we affirm the trial court's
judgment in part and reverse it in part, and we remand this
case for further proceedings.
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 In his complaint, which he filed on September 14, 2015,
plaintiff alleged substantially as follows.
5 A. The Parties
6 Plaintiff is an inmate at Lawrence Correctional Center, in
7 Gladyse C. Taylor is the Department's director.
8 Leif M. McCarthy is the chairperson of the adjustment
committee at Lawrence Correctional Center, the committee that
hears and decides inmate disciplinary reports.
9 Eldon L. Cooper is a member of the adjustment committee.
10 B. The Inmate Disciplinary Report Issued to Plaintiff
11 On December 16, 2014, an inmate disciplinary report was
served on plaintiff. In the report, a correctional officer
named "J. Harper" accused plaintiff of two offenses
as defined by the Department's regulations: security
group threat or unauthorized organizational activity (20 Ill.
Adm. Code 504.Appendix A (2003) (No. 205)) and intimidation
or threats (id. (No. 206)). The report summarized
the following evidence: (1) an "accumulation of
incidents" concerning plaintiff's "involvement
with the Latin Kings Security Threat Group, " including
statements of confidential informants, one of whom identified
plaintiff as chairman of the Latin King National Regional
Crown Council; (2) handwritten notes, confiscated in a
shakedown, in which he discussed Latin King business and, in
one note, expressed a desire to "kick *** down the
steps" someone named Kevin, who had "told
Springfield a lot" about the gang; and (3) recorded
telephone conversations, in which plaintiff discussed various
Latin King members who were in prison.
12 C. Witness Request
13 On December 16, 2014, plaintiff submitted to the
adjustment committee a document, handwritten by him, in which
he requested the committee to review the "[p]hone log
records" for May 5, September 29, and October 12, 2014.
He stated that those phone records would disprove the
allegation, in the disciplinary report, that he made outgoing
telephone calls on those days. He also "request[ed] to
be shown these alleged notes" by him, confiscated in the
shakedown. Finally, he made an "inmate witness request,
" listing the imprisoned Latin Kings whom he allegedly
had discussed on the telephone. He wrote: "Each inmate
will testify that [plaintiff] did not order or direct any
security threat group activity within [the Department]
14 D. Plaintiff's Written Statement to the Committee
15 On December 19, 2014, in the hearing on the inmate
disciplinary report, plaintiff presented a handwritten
statement to the committee. In this statement, he began by
pleading not guilty to the two charges. Then he made
essentially four points.
16 First, he denied the allegation, in the disciplinary
report, that he made "outside telephone calls" on
May 5, August 30, and September 29, 2014. He wrote that if
only the committee would review the "B-Wing telephone
log records, " those records would show he did not use
the telephone on those dates.
17 Second, he insisted that if there were any recordings of
his telephone calls, those recordings, when played in their
entirety, would debunk the claim that he had engaged in
unauthorized organizational activity.
18 Third, he denied writing the notes cited in the
disciplinary report. He also denied the notes had come from
his cell, property, or person, or that there were any
shakedown records indicating as much. He pointed out that
Harper was not a handwriting expert.
19 Fourth, he claimed the disciplinary report was untimely
under the Department's regulations because it "was
written beyond the [eight] days allowed after the commission
of the offense or discovery thereof." 20 Ill. Adm. Code
504.30(f) (2003). He noted that the report listed the dates
of "February of 2014[;] May 5, 2014[;] July 15, 2014[;]
August 30, 2014[;] September of 2014[;] October 13, 2014[;]
and December 7, 2014"-all of which preceded the issuance
of the report, on December 16, 2014, by more than eight days.
20 His written statement concluded with the following
paragraph: "I request to see the alleged confiscated
'notes' regarding the [December 16, 2014, ]
disciplinary report, and request that my December 16, 2014[,
] witness and document request be reviewed and considered as
exculpatory evidence by the Committee."
21 E. The Disciplinary Hearing
22 Plaintiff alleges that, in the disciplinary hearing, which
was held on December 19, 2014, the two members of the
adjustment committee, McCarthy and Cooper, declined to show
him the notes in question and declined to personally review
the notes, the telephone logs, or the telephone recordings.
As for plaintiff's witness request, "Cooper stated
that Jerry Harper (the prison official who wrote the
[disciplinary report] against plaintiff) [had] directed the
Committee not to call any of plaintiff's witnesses[;]
thus, no witnesses would be called." Also, Cooper told
plaintiff, in the disciplinary hearing, "that the
Committee [had been] directed by higher[-]up prison
authorities to find plaintiff guilty and revoke a year [of]
good conduct credits and impose punitive segregation and
other punitive sanctions for a year." Upon receiving
that news, plaintiff "made a verbal objection" to
the committee's lack of impartiality, but McCarthy and
Cooper "refused to recuse themselves." All this is
according to plaintiff's complaint.
23 F. The Final Summary Report
24 On January 3, 2015, the Department served upon plaintiff a
"Final Summary Report, " in which McCarthy and
Cooper found plaintiff guilty of "Gang or Unauthorized
Organization Activity" and "Intimidation or
Threats." They recommended one year in "C grade,
" one year of segregation, revocation of one year of
good-conduct credits, restriction for one year to $15 per
month, and one year of "Contact Visits
Restriction." The chief administrative officer, Stephen
B. Duncan, approved the recommendation.
25 G. Plaintiff's Grievance
26 On January 5, 2015, plaintiff administratively appealed
the discipline by filing a grievance. He complained of the
committee members' refusal to produce and personally
review the notes, telephone logs, and telephone recordings;
their refusal to recuse themselves; the untimeliness of the
disciplinary report; and other irregularities, which we will
discuss in greater detail later in this opinion.
27 On August 13, 2015, by adding her signature to a form,
Taylor concurred with the denial of plaintiff's
grievance. The Department "[found] no violation of the
offender's due process in accordance with [sections
504.30 and 504.80 (20 Ill. Adm. Code 504.30, 504.80 (2003))],
" to quote the check-marked preprinted language of the
form. The Department was "reasonably satisfied the
offender committed the offense cited in the report."
28 II. ANALYSIS
29 A. The Request for Mandamus (Count I)
30 Because the motion for dismissal was pursuant to section
2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West
2016)), the question is whether the complaint states a cause
of action for mandamus, declaratory relief, or a
common-law writ of certiorari: the three forms of
relief that plaintiff sought in the three counts of his
complaint. See Johannesen v. Eddins, 2011 IL App
(2d) 110108, ¶ 27.
31 We answer that question de novo, taking the
well-pleaded facts or specific factual allegations of the
complaint to be true and disregarding any conclusory
allegations unsupported by well-pleaded facts. Simpkins
v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 2012 IL 110662, ¶ 26;
Primax Recoveries, Inc. v. Atherton, 365 Ill.App.3d
1007, 1010 (2006). Not only will we assume the well-pleaded
facts in the complaint to be true, but we will regard those
facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff. See
Johannesen, 2011 IL App (2d) 110108, ¶ 27. If,
from the well-pleaded facts, a reasonable inference could be
drawn in plaintiff's favor-which is to say, in favor of
the legal sufficiency of the complaint-we will draw that
inference. See id. "Dismissal pursuant to
section 2-615 *** is only proper where, when construing the
allegations of the complaint ...