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UNITED STATES EX REL. JONES v. RUNDLE

May 10, 1973

UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Sheridan R. JONES
v.
Alfred T. RUNDLE, Superintendent, Gerald L. Lightcap, Dept. Super.


Body, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BODY

Body, District Judge.

 In this action, the plaintiff, Sheridan R. Jones, alleges that the defendants under color of state law denied him his rights to procedural due process in a prison disciplinary hearing and thereafter confined him in punitive segregation which violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The hearing concerned an alleged violation of prison rules. The plaintiff's cause of action arises under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1970), and jurisdiction is founded upon 28 U.S.C. §§ 1335, 1343 (1970). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages to compensate him for the denial of his rights and equitable relief for expungement of this incident from his record so he will suffer no further adverse consequences from the incident.

 Plaintiff's complaint survived motions for dismissal and summary judgment, and a trial was held without a jury on March 19, 1973. The following are the findings of fact reached at that trial.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Sheridan R. Jones was born in New York City, New York.

 2. Between November 1, 1970 and February 1, 1971 and at all other times relevant to this lawsuit, the plaintiff, Sheridan R. Jones, a Caucasian, was incarcerated at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania.

 3. Between November 1, 1970 and February 1, 1971 and at all times relevant to this lawsuit, John Vann, a Black, was incarcerated at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania.

 4. At all times relevant to this proceeding, Alfred T. Rundle was the Superintendent of the Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania.

 5. At all times relevant to this proceeding, Gerald L. Lightcap was the Deputy Superintendent at the Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania.

 6. On November 21, 1970 two prison guards, Sergeant Gene Wilfong and Officer Wengiel, found Sheridan R. Jones lying naked on his back in the cell of inmate John Vann, Cell 244, D-Block. John Vann was present in the cell at this time. There was no testimony stating whether John Vann was clothed.

 7. Sheridan R. Jones was taken immediately to the dispensary for a medical examination.

 8. On the same day, Sergeant Wilfong wrote a Misconduct Report regarding the incident. (Plaintiff's Exhibit 1) The misconduct listed in the report was "suspicion of an act of sodomy."

 9. At the time of this incident, Sheridan R. Jones was earning twenty-five cents ($0.25) per day as an Administration Janitor.

 10. After the medical examination, Sheridan R. Jones was locked in his cell pending a Behavior Clinic.

 11. On November 22, 1970, plaintiff was taken before Major Parcell for a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, Major Parcell read the Misconduct Report to the plaintiff. The report contained all the charges against him. Sheridan R. Jones was then permitted to make a statement giving his position regarding the misconduct: he said that he was in John Vann's cell getting a book and that he was not naked.

 12. Major Parcell then investigated those parts of the report which Sheridan R. Jones disputed. The investigation consisted of calling in Sergeant Wilfong and asking him if the report was true. Sergeant Wilfong said it was.

 13. At the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, hearings to dispose of cases of prisoner misconduct were called the Behavior Clinic. At each Clinic, five prison officials were present to decide the case. A majority vote of the members determined the outcome. The general procedure was that the charges were read and the prisoner was then allowed to give his account of the incident. It is uncertain whether prisoners ordinarily were allowed to present evidence at the Clinic other than their own testimony. Attorneys were not provided, and prisoners were not permitted to confront and cross-examine their accusers. There was no avenue of appeal within the prison system.

 14. Defendant Gerald L. Lightcap presided over the Behavior Clinic which met on November 23, 1970 to consider the Misconduct Report on Sheridan R. Jones and John Vann. The identity of the other members of this Clinic is now uncertain, but five prison officials attended the Clinic.

 15. At the Clinic the usual procedures were followed except the plaintiff, Sheridan R. Jones, and John Vann were not permitted to explain their actions. At the trial John Vann testified that they were not permitted to speak at all, and Sheridan R. Jones testified that he tried to speak, got one sentence out, and then was cut off. These stories do not seriously contradict each other. The Commonwealth brought in no witness who was present at the Clinic to contradict the evidence offered by plaintiff.

 16. The person who told the plaintiff and John Vann not to speak is not one of the defendants. It was another unidentified prison official present at the Clinic who was not sued by plaintiff.

 17. The only investigation described by the testimony which the Clinic members undertook before the hearing was an oral communication from Major Parcell describing the preliminary hearing he conducted and his conversation with Sergeant Wilfong. No evidence related what was done with any medical records giving the results of the examination of Sheridan R. Jones immediately after the incident except a statement by Major Parcell that such reports were usually given to the Clinic members.

 18. The Clinic which considered the Misconduct Report against Sheridan R. Jones and John Vann lasted less than five minutes and at the end of the hearing, the offenders were taken to punitive segregation for thirty days.

 19. The actions taken against Sheridan R. Jones and John Vann were not a result of any racial bias of the prison officials.

 20. Defendant Alfred T. Rundle did not attend the Behavior Clinic, nor was he aware of what took place at this particular Clinic, nor does the report he signed on its face give sufficient information to put him on ...


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