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Duffin v. Anderson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 5, 2017

EDMOND DUFFIN, #R23746, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff Edmond Duffin, an inmate currently housed at Stateville Correctional Center (“Stateville”), filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that his due process rights were violated in connection with disciplinary proceedings stemming from an April 22, 2014 disciplinary ticket that resulted in Plaintiff spending a year in disciplinary segregation.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Amended Complaint (Doc. 13)[1] 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.

         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). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). 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). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Amended Complaint


         Plaintiff's claims stem from an April 22, 2014 disciplinary report charging Plaintiff with the offense of 205: Security Threat Activity. The report claimed that Plaintiff maintained a leadership position in the Gangster Disciples, a Security Threat Group (“STG”), at Menard. According to the Amended Complaint, the report was too generic to provide meaningful notice regarding the alleged charge. More specifically, the report did not provide any information regarding how Plaintiff was personally involved in any STG activity. Initially, Plaintiff was found not guilty of the charge. In an apparent effort to provide additional information, the report was rewritten and a second hearing was held. This time, Plaintiff was adjudicated guilty, allegedly at the direction of Butler. Among other things, Plaintiff was disciplined with 1-year in segregation.

         In October 2014, a member of the Administrative Review Board recommended that the revised report be remanded and rewritten to provide additional information regarding Plaintiff's personal involvement in STG activity. Accordingly, the disciplinary report was rewritten a second time, and Plaintiff attended his third hearing on the matter. Once again, Plaintiff was disciplined with 1 year in segregation. Upon completing his term in segregation, Plaintiff was immediately placed in administrative segregation based on his alleged involvement in STG activity. Plaintiff remained in administrative segregation for 531 days.

         Plaintiff contends the original and revised notices he received prior to being disciplined with segregation were too vague and generic to comport with due process requirements. He also claims that the Adjustment Committee's findings relied entirely on the inadequate disciplinary reports and were not supported by any evidence, also violating Plaintiff's right to due process. Plaintiff raises similar claims with respect to his subsequent placement in administrative segregation.

         Disputed Disciplinary Report and Related Disciplinary Action

         On April 22, 2014, Plaintiff was served with an inmate disciplinary report (“Original IDR”) charging him with the offense of 205: Security Threat Activity. (Doc. 13, p. 6; Doc. 13-1, pp. 2-4). The Original IDR provided, in relevant part, as follows:

On the above date and approximate time, Menard CC Intelligence Unit concluded an investigation based on intelligence received concerning current Gangster Disciples STG leadership at Menard Correctional Center. The investigation was concluded on April 22, 2014, resulting in this disciplinary report being issued to offender EDMOND DUFFIN R23746 (known Gangster Disciples affiliate). During the investigation two confidential sources (names being withheld for the safety and security of the institution and deemed reliable due to the consistency of their statements) identified offender DUFFIN as the current Gangster Disciples Director of Unilateral Force of Operations (UFO) at Menard Correctional Center.

(Doc. 13-1, p. 3). On April 29, 2014, Plaintiff was brought before the Adjustment Committee for a hearing. (Doc. 13, p. 7).[2] The Adjustment Committee was comprised of three correctional officers: (1) Jason Hart; (2) Rebecca Cowan, and (3) Robert Hughes. (Doc. 13, p. 7).[3] The Adjustment Committee found Plaintiff not guilty and released him from segregation. Id.

         Kimberly Butler, who was the Chief Administrative Officer (“CAO”) of Menard at that time, issued an order directing the issuing officer to rewrite the Original IDR. Id.[4] Plaintiff was returned to segregation and, on May 6, 2014, Plaintiff was served with the revised IDR (“Revised IDR”). Id.

         The Revised IDR added the following pertinent information:

Throughout the duration of the investigation on offender DUFFIN, numerous incidents have occurred at Menard CC involving Gangster Disciples affiliates. These incidents include multiple fights/assaults isolated to GD affiliates. Also, numerous weapons have been discovered in the possession of multiple GD affiliates. These incidents have been identified as STG related incidents by Menard CC Intelligence Unit.

(Doc. 13-1, p. 11). On May 8, 2014, Plaintiff was brought before the Adjustment Committee for a hearing on the Revised IDR. (Doc. 13, p. 7; Doc. 13-1, pp. 13-16). The Adjustment Committee was comprised of two correctional officers: (1) Minh Scott and (2) Cowan. (Doc. 1, p. 7). At the hearing, Scott and Cowan told Plaintiff Butler directed them to enter a finding of guilty and impose a one-year term of segregation. (Doc. 1, p. 7; Doc. 13-1, p. 16). Plaintiff pleaded not guilty. (Doc. 13-1, p. 14). The Adjustment Committee found Plaintiff guilty. (Doc. 13-1, pp. 14-16). Plaintiff was ordered to segregation for 1 year, demoted to “C” grade for 1 year, placed on commissary restriction for 1 year, and subjected to restricted contact visits for 6 months. (Doc. 13-1, pp. 15-16). A disciplinary transfer was also imposed. (Doc. 13-1, p. 16). The basis for the Adjustment Committee's decision is a verbatim copy of the information provided in the Revised IDR. (Doc. 13-1, p. 16).

         On June 30, 2014, Plaintiff was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center Segregation Unit. (Doc. 1, p. 8). Plaintiff filed a grievance and, on October 21, 2014, Administrative Review Board member Leslie McCarthy recommended that the Revised IDR be remanded back to the issuing officer at Menard “to provide additional information as to how [Plaintiff] was identified as an active participant in STG activity.” (Doc. 13, p. 8; Doc. 13-1, p. 18). The letter addressing Plaintiff's grievance further stated that “[u]pon rewrite, Menard is to forward the rewritten report to [Plaintiff's] current facility (PON), for it to be reserved, and reheard within established timeframes.” (Doc. 13-1, p. 18). The recommendation was approved by S.A. Godinez (the director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) at that time). (Doc. 13, p. 8).

         On January 20, 2015, Plaintiff was served with another revised IDR, dated January 15, 2015 (“Second Revised IDR”). (Doc. 13, p. 9; Doc. 13-1, pp. 30-33). The Second Revised IDR added the following language:

Based on both confidential sources, offender DUFFIN held the Menard Institutional position of the Director of the Unilateral Force Operations. This position must be appointed by the Gangster Disciples and the appointee (DUFFIN) must accept the position. By offender DUFFIN accepting th[sic] position of Director of UFO's, DUFFIN, committed to upholding the laws, rules, and responsibilities designated to the Director of UFO's per the Staff Title Duties. This act is an overt and conscious decision to participate in Gangster Disciples Security Threat Group Activity at Menard CC. Also, DUFFIN is subsequently assuming responsibility for the actions of Gangster Disciples affiliates as it pertains to Gangster Disciples nation business.

(Doc. 13-1, p. 32). On January 23, 2015, Plaintiff was brought before the Adjustment Committee for a third time. (Doc. 13, p. 9). This time, the Adjustment Committee was comprised of two new correctional officers: (1) Chad Brown and (2) Aberardo Salinas. Id. Plaintiff pleaded not guilty. (Doc. 13-1, pp. 35-37). The Adjustment Committee, apparently relying on the Second Revised IDR as the only evidence, found Plaintiff guilty and imposed the same disciplinary action as the prior committee (1 year of segregation, disciplinary transfer, 1 year commissary restriction, 6 months restricted contact visits, and 1 year demotion to “C” grade). Id.

         On April 25, 2015, Plaintiff completed serving a year in disciplinary segregation. (Doc. 13, p. 11). Three days later, on April 28, 2015, Plaintiff received a decision from the Administrative Review Board ...

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