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LIPSCOMBE v. RIDLEY

December 9, 1991

VELDON LIPSCOMBE, Plaintiff,
v.
WALTER RIDLEY, et al., Defendants.


RICHEY


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES R. RICHEY

On August 29, 1991, the Court dismissed the above-captioned action pursuant to Local Rule 108 (b). The defendant Walter Ridley *fn1" had filed a Motion to Dismiss, or, in Alternative, for Summary Judgment on June 28, 1991. *fn2" Because the plaintiff failed to respond, the Court treated the motion as conceded. See Orders filed August 1, 1991, and August 29, 1991.

 Before the Court is the plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration. The plaintiff asserts that he did in fact respond to the defendant's motion. *fn3" The Court has reviewed the plaintiff's file, and finds that in addition to sending letters to the Court (which do not satisfy pleading requirements), the plaintiff filed a number of exhibits on July 31, 1991 after the defendant filed his motion. While these exhibits are not a formal response to the defendant's motion, the Court has reconsidered its earlier determination. In light of the fact that the plaintiff is a pro se litigant, and in view of the strong policies favoring the resolution of disputes on their merits, the Court shall relax the pleading requirements and treat these exhibits as a response to the defendant's motion for the purposes of Local Rule 108(b). Cf. Jackson v. Beech, 205 App. D.C. 84, 636 F.2d 831 (D.C. Cir. 1980). Therefore, the Court's Order of August 29, 1991, dismissing this action shall be vacated, and the Court shall proceed to consider the plaintiff's complaint on the merits.

 I. Background

 The plaintiff is incarcerated at the Maximum Security Facility, Lorton Correctional Complex ("Lorton",) for a sentence imposed by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1980. He was initially paroled, but his parole was revoked. Plaintiff was then incarcerated at the Occoquan facility. He was transferred to Lorton on October 15, 1990, for allegedly threatening an officer. Plaintiff filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was being held in administrative segregation in violation of due process, because there was no "adjustment board determination of guilt or criminal prosecution." Complaint at 5. The plaintiff also claims the parole board has not investigated his case, and that he has been denied "all rights and privileges." Complaint at 6.

 The complaint is accompanied by voluminous attachments, but it is difficult to assess his specific grievances. The plaintiff's primary focus seems to be: 1) that he was denied due process at the Adjustment Board hearing of October 1, 1990, at which it was determined that he should be placed in administrative segregation, and denied due process at a hearing on October 12, 1990, at which it was determined that he should remain in administrative segregation and would be transferred to Lorton; and 2) he contests the conditions under which he is confined; and 3) he believes he is should be considered for parole eligibility. He seeks to be transferred back to Occoquan, to have his parole "investigated", and "all rights and privileges". Complaint at 5.

 Regarding the decision to place the plaintiff in administrative segregation and transfer him to Lorton, the defendant asserts that on September 28, 1990, the plaintiff was charged with threatening conduct, lack of cooperation and disrespect against a prison officer. See Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, Ex. E. Before the hearing and pursuant to the Lorton Regulations Approval Act ("Act"), plaintiff was notified in writing of the charges and pending hearing on his housing status. See Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, Ex. D. At the hearing on October 1, 1990, the plaintiff admitted the allegations and the Board found him guilty, recommending that he be placed in administrative segregation for two weeks and that another hearing be conducted to determine appropriate housing. Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, Ex. E. Another hearing was held on October 12, 1990, to determine the plaintiff's housing. The plaintiff told the housing committee that if he was released into the general population at Occoquan, he would continue to be a problem, especially if he saw the officer he threatened before. Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, Ex. F. Therefore the housing committee recommended that he be retained in administrative segregation and be transferred to the maximum security facility (Lorton). The plaintiff was transferred to Lorton on October 15, 1990. Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, Ex. G.

 With respect to the plaintiff's complaint regarding the denial of "all rights and privileges", the specific allegations in his complaint are that he is denied access to a law library, religious services, religious meals, outside recreation, and legal telephone calls.

 II. Analysis

 A. Due Process

 Summary judgment is awarded when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Where there is a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the adverse party may not rest upon the "mere allegations or denials" of its pleadings, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); see Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 110 S. Ct. 3177, 3188-89, 111 L. Ed. 2d 695 (1990).

 The Supreme Court has held that prison administrators should receive "wide-ranging deference" in developing and implementing practices to preserve internal order, discipline and security. Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 472, 74 L. Ed. 2d 675 , 103 S. Ct. 864 (1983), citing Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 549, 60 L. Ed. 2d 447 , 99 S. Ct. 1861 (1979). Regarding the decision of a prison disciplinary board to place a prisoner in administrative segregation, due process requires only an "informal, non-adversary review of the information supporting [the] administrative confinement," including whatever statement the prisoner wants to submit, within a reasonable time after the administrative confinement. Id.

 The Lorton Regulations Approval Act outlines the procedures used to conduct the hearings which lead to plaintiff's placement in administrative segregation and transfer to the maximum security facility. Notice and a prompt hearing, along with certain procedural protections, are required before a resident may be placed in administrative segregation involuntarily, in order to determine "whether a resident presents a clear and present danger to others or is in danger from a clear and present threat from others." Act § 202.4 (Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, Ex. H).

 It appears that the regulations were complied with in the plaintiff's case. He received notice of the charges against him, and two prompt hearings. While the plaintiff claims that he was not found guilty of misconduct or any prison infraction, the record indicates that the adjustment board found him "guilty as charged by his own admission" on October 1, 1990. Def.'s Motion to Dismiss, Ex. E. The plaintiff has not offered any evidence to rebut this information. The regulations meet the constitutional requirements set forth in Hewitt, supra., and were discussed with approval in Crosby-Bey v. District of Columbia, 252 App. D.C. 20, 786 F.2d 1182 (D.C. Cir. 1986). Therefore the Court concludes that ...


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