United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. ROSENSTENGEL, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is a Report and Recommendation of Magistrate
Judge Gilbert C. Sison (Doc. 109), which recommends denying
Plaintiff Blackman's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
66) and granting in part and denying in part Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 88). For the following
reasons, the Court adopts the conclusions of the Report and
Eric Blackman is an inmate of the Illinois Department of
Corrections (“IDOC”). While Blackman was
incarcerated at Menard Correctional Center, he alleges that
prison officials repeatedly interviewed him about his
suspected involvement in prison “gang operations”
and told him that if he did not cooperate by informing
investigators of his involvement and knowledge of prison gang
activities, he would be punished with segregation and
transfer to a different prison. (Doc. 13, p. 11). Blackman,
who had no disciplinary infractions at Menard from July 2012
through April 2014, maintained that he was not a part of gang
activity and could provide no information. (Doc. 13, p. 11;
Doc. 66, p. 5). Despite his claims, Blackman was served with
an inmate disciplinary report citing him with violating Rule
205-participation in a security threat group
(“STG”) or unauthorized organizational
activity-on April 22, 2014. (Doc. 13, p. 10; Doc. 66, p. 5).
April 24, 2014, Blackman appeared for the first time on the
STG charge before the Menard adjustment committee for a
disciplinary hearing (Doc. 87-2, p. 13). The report of the
hearing indicates that on April 22, 2014, the Menard
Intelligence Unit concluded an investigation into the
leadership of the Gangster Disciples STG at Menard. (Doc.
66-3, p. 2). Two confidential sources identified Blackman as
the Assistant Institutional Coordinator for the Gangster
Disciples at Menard. (Id.). The adjustment committee
found that Blackman was an active participant in STG
activity, and they recommended that he be disciplined with 3
months C grade, 3 months segregation, 3 months of commissary
restriction and 6 months of contact visit restrictions.
the hearing, the Chief Administrative Officer of Menard,
Defendant Butler, rejected the adjustment committee's
summary report and findings and remanded the charge back to
the committee for a second hearing. (Id., pp. 2-3).
Butler attested that a designee in her office signed the
direction to remand Blackman's ticket for a second
hearing and that she did not direct staff at Menard to
retaliate against any offender with expanded discipline for
refusing to provide incriminating information to the
intelligence unit. (Doc. 87-1).
8, 2014, Defendants Hughes and Hart sat on the second
adjustment committee and presided over Blackman's
remanded disciplinary hearing. (Doc. 66-3, p. 4). The second
adjustment committee report states that the remand was done
so that the reporting officer could provide additional
information to substantiate the charge against Blackman.
(Id.) The report also states that the Chief
Administrative Officer “advised the adjustment
committee to impose the following discipline: 1 year seg.,
C-grade, and loc.” (Id.). Defendants Hughes
and Hart found Blackman guilty of violating Rule 205 and
increased Blackman's original three-month sanction to
twelve months of confinement in disciplinary segregation.
(Id., pp. 4-5). They additionally imposed a
disciplinary transfer (Id.). Defendant Butler
approved Defendants Hughes's and Hart's findings and
sanctions on May 15, 2014. (Id., p. 5).
to the second adjustment committee hearing, Blackman filed
numerous grievances, including a June 2014 grievance that
reached the Administrative Review Board (ARB) and the IDOC
Director. (See Doc. 13-1, pp. 6-8; 24; 25-26;
see also Doc. 13-2, pp. 7; 10-12). Blackman's
repeated complaints centered on Butler's, Hughes's,
and Hart's imposition of increased sanctions. He claimed
that their actions violated Title 20, Section 504.90(d) of
the Illinois Administrative Code, which prohibits imposing
greater sanctions on remand than what was originally imposed
unless there are different charges or new evidence that was
not available at the original hearing. (Id.; see
also 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.90(d)). Blackman
argued that the first and second disciplinary reports were
substantively identical as to the facts alleged against him,
he was not charged with a different offense at any time, and
no new evidence previously unavailable was presented at the
second disciplinary hearing. (Compare Doc. 13-1, pp.
2-3 with Doc. 13-1, pp. 10-11; see also
Doc. 13-1, pp. 15-16).
October 2014, the ARB issued its first response to
Blackman's June 2014 grievance. (Doc. 13-2, p. 7). By
this time, Blackman had served nearly six months in
disciplinary segregation and been transferred to Pontiac. The
ARB, through Defendants McCarty and Godinez,
“remand[ed] the second disciplinary report back to the
reporting officer at Menard to provide additional information
as to how Offender Blackman was identified as an active
participant in STG activity.” (Id.). Because
Blackman was already at Pontiac, the ARB further directed
Menard to forward, upon completion by the reporting officer,
the rewritten report to Pontiac so that it could be served
and reheard. (Id.). While Blackman testified that
the remand order was entered because Defendants McCarty and
Godinez were disgruntled with his grievance writing (Doc.
87-2, p. 26-27), McCarty attested that the decision to remand
the issue was not done to retaliate but rather to obtain
additional information so the ARB could finalize its
investigation. (Doc. 87-5).
November 24, 2014, Blackman filed an emergency grievance with
Defendant Pfister, the Pontiac CAO (Doc. 89-2, p. 32). He
requested his immediate release from disciplinary segregation
claiming that his due process rights were being infringed
because the ARB ordered the remand hearing to commence within
fourteen days, when possible. (Id.). He also filed a
writ of mandamus in December 2014 regarding the same issue.
(Id., p. 33). Defendant Pfister found Blackman's
emergency grievance unsubstantiated and directed that his
grievance should be submitted in the normal manner.
Consequently, Blackman remained confined in disciplinary
January 15, 2015, the reporting officer from the Menard
Intelligence Unit rewrote the disciplinary report against
Blackman. (Doc. 13-1, pp. 15-16). Pontiac received the
rewritten disciplinary report from Menard and served Blackman
with it prior to the second rehearing. (Doc. 87-2, pp.
30-31). The second rehearing on the STG charge was held on
January 27, 2015. Defendants Brown and Salinas, sitting on
the Pontiac adjustment committee, presided over
Blackman's rehearing. (Doc. 13-1, pp. 22-23).
hearing, Blackman submitted a two-page written statement to
the Pontiac adjustment committee clearly outlining his
defense as well as his procedural arguments related to the
STG charge. (Doc. 66-3, pp. 7-8). He raised two issues: (1)
inadequacy of the third disciplinary report to provide
meaningful notice of the basis of the charge that would
enable him to mount a defense; and (2) violations of 20 Ill.
Admin. Code §§ 504.90(d) and 504.80(p)(2) by
Defendants Butler, Hughes, and Hart, who increased his
original sanction from three to twelve months at the first
rehearing without the existence of different charges or new
evidence. (Id.). Blackman requested that the Pontiac
adjustment committee dismiss and expunge the STG charge
initiated against him while at Menard. (Id.).
third adjustment committee hearing, Defendants Brown and
Salinas found the confidential sources who provided
information about Blackman were reliable. (Doc. 66-3, p.
9-10). The report noted that Blackman held an institutional
coordinator position within the Gangster Disciples at Menard,
a position that Blackman made an overt, conscious decision to
accept. (Id.). They found Blackman guilty for the
third time on the same Rule 205 violation and re-imposed the
increased sanctions, including the twelve-month term of
confinement in disciplinary segregation. (Id.). On
February 2, 2015, Defendant Pfister approved the
determination and imposition of sanctions. (Id.).
subsequently filed a grievance complaining that Defendants
Brown and Salinas obstructed his defense during the hearing
by telling him they were not authorized to rule on the STG
charge but, instead, would submit all information to the ARB
so that it could make the final determination. (Doc. 13-1 pp.
April 27, 2015, the ARB concluded its review of
Blackman's June 2014 grievance and issued its
determination. (Doc. 66-3, p. 11). The ARB stated that it was
reasonably satisfied Blackman violated Rule 205 so it denied
his grievance. (Id.). The ARB determined, however,
that the increased sanctions Blackman challenged, which were
imposed at the May 2014 rehearing, failed to adhere to the
procedural safeguards outlined by Department Regulation 504.
(Id.). The ARB noted that the original discipline
imposed should not have increased during the second hearing
and directed that the discipline be reduced to reflect
Blackman's original sentence of 3 months' C Grade, 3
months' segregation, 3 months' commissary
restriction, and 6 months' contact visit restriction.
(Id.). Defendant Pfister, in accordance with the
ARB's directives, completed an IDOC Disciplinary
Reduction Notification form and submitted it to the Records
Office at Pontiac on May 5, 2015. (Doc. 13-1, p. 29). By that
time, Blackman had served the entire twelve-month term that
Defendants Butler, Hughes, and Hart imposed at the second
October 19, 2016, Blackman filed this pro se civil
rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1).
Blackman alleges his constitutional rights under the First
and Fourteenth Amendments were violated by Defendants'