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PRICE v. KELLY

March 24, 1994

JAMES PRICE, Plaintiff,
v.
SHARON PRATT KELLY, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROYCE C. LAMBERTH

 This matter comes before the on defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the parties' filings and the relevant law, and for the reasons stated below, defendants' motion shall be GRANTED in accordance with this memorandum opinion.

 I. Introduction

 This is a pro se action brought by plaintiff James Price seeking damages and equitable relief under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 against Sharon Pratt Kelly, Mayor of the District of Columbia, and certain officials of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. These officials hold positions in the D.C. Detention Facility, and they include John Henderson, Administrator; Patricia Britton, Assistant Administrator; Robert Fulton, Major; Lee Broadnax, Sergeant; McKenzie Harris, Corporal; Hazel Lee, Corporal; and a Mr. Scott, Case Manager. Plaintiff claims defendants violated his due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

 Plaintiff's factual allegations must be presumed true and liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff when reviewing the adequacy of a complaint for purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Phillips v. Bureau of Prisons, 192 U.S. App. D.C. 357, 591 F.2d 966, 968 (D.C. Cir. 1979) (citing Miree v. Dekalb County, Georgia, 433 U.S. 25, 27 n.2, 53 L. Ed. 2d 557, 97 S. Ct. 2490 (1977)). In addition, the plaintiff must be given every favorable inference that may be drawn from his allegations of fact. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974). "However, legal conclusions, deductions or opinions couched as factual allegations are not given a presumption of truthfulness." 2A Moore's Federal Practice, § 12.07, at 63 (2d ed. 1986) (footnote omitted); see Haynesworth v. Miller, 261 U.S. App. D.C. 66, 820 F.2d 1245, 1254 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (citing Pauling v. McElroy, 107 U.S. App. D.C. 372, 278 F.2d 252, 254 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied, 364 U.S. 835, 5 L. Ed. 2d 60, 81 S. Ct. 61 (1960)).

 Dismissal is only appropriate if it appears beyond doubt that no set of facts proffered in support of plaintiff's claim would entitle him to relief. Haynesworth, 820 F.2d at 1254 (citations omitted); Phillips, 591 F.2d at 968. Plaintiff's factual allegations are set out below. *fn1"

 II. Facts

 This action resulted from a series of disciplinary reports ("D.R.") filed by jail officials against plaintiff James Price while he was confined as a pretrial detainee at the District of Columbia Detention Facility. Plaintiff claims that D.C. Department of Corrections officials failed to provide him with his procedural rights in connection with the resolution of these D.R.'s. These alleged violations occurred over a period of approximately two months beginning in April 1993. The specific events leading to this dispute are detailed in chronological order below.

 On April 7, 1993, plaintiff received two D.R.'s, one charging him with possession of major contraband ("shoots," i.e., homemade wine) and the other charging him with exhibition of threatening conduct toward the prison staff. The following day, plaintiff requested that he be represented by counsel for adjudication of the D.R.'s before the facility's Adjustment Board ("Board"). On April 9, 1993, plaintiff was brought before the Board for a D.R. hearing. He notified the Board that he desired legal representation but had not yet spoken to his attorney. The Board agreed to postpone the hearing until April 14 to afford plaintiff an opportunity to contact his attorney. Meanwhile, plaintiff was placed in administrative segregation pending his hearing on the D.R.'s.

 On the following day, April 14, 1993, plaintiff was again brought before the Board. Plaintiff informed Corp. Harris that he wished to wait for Ms. Whittaker to arrive before beginning the hearing. Corp. Harris refused to delay the hearing further, and responded simply by stating, "Okay, you've got a lawyer, so you're guilty." For this guilty finding the Board revoked plaintiff's inmate privileges and placed him in administrative segregation for twenty-eight days (fourteen days for each D.R.). Plaintiff filed both an appeal and an Inmate Grievance with Administrator Henderson regarding the Adjustment Board's allegedly improper adjudication of his D.R.'s. The Administrator never responded to the appeal, and dismissed the grievance as groundless.

 Plaintiff was called before the Board again on April 28, 1993 to face a disciplinary hearing for disrespect and lack of cooperation. Plaintiff informed the Board that he had not received any notice of this D.R., and that he again wished to be represented by counsel. The Board denied plaintiff his request and found him guilty of the charges without a hearing, imposing an additional fourteen days' loss of privileges and administrative segregation.

 Ms. Whittaker came to visit plaintiff at the jail on May 6, 1993. Officer Lewis informed plaintiff of the visit at approximately 6:00 p.m., placed him in handcuffs, and then left plaintiff in his cell handcuffed until 8:00 a.m. the next morning. Corrections officials never allowed plaintiff to see his attorney, and he was forced to sleep in handcuffs.

 Plaintiff received yet two more D.R.'s on May 11 and May 12, 1993. Both D.R.'s charged plaintiff with disrespect and lack of cooperation toward the correction officers for exposing himself in an unseen manner, using profanity, and refusing to obey orders. Plaintiff notified the officials that he wished to be represented by counsel in connection with these D.R.'s, and requested assistance with contacting his attorney. Plaintiff was called before the Adjustment Board for a disciplinary hearing on May 12, at which time he repeated his request for counsel. The Board postponed the hearing until May 18, 1993.

 Several times between May 12 and May 17, plaintiff asked his facility case manager, Mr. Scott, to assist him in making a legal phone call to notify his attorney of the impending hearing. Despite his repeated requests, Mr. Scott did not provide any such assistance, and plaintiff was never given the opportunity to contact his attorney before the hearing.

 On May 18, 1993, as scheduled, plaintiff was once again called before the Adjustment Board to adjudicate the May 11 and May 12 D.R.'s. Plaintiff reminded the Board of his request for representation, and stated that he still had not been given the opportunity to contact his attorney. The Board refused plaintiff any further opportunity to contact his attorney and proceeded with the disciplinary hearing. As a result of the hearing, the Board found plaintiff guilty of three D.R.'s -- although plaintiff was aware of only the above-mentioned two D.R's -- and placed him in administrative segregation for forty-eight ...


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