B. Claim Against Defendants Rambo and LaSpina.
The evidence against defendants Rambo and LaSpina, the guards at Delaware County Prison who reported plaintiff's presence in the cell with the hole in its wall, is not much more substantial than the evidence of conspiracy against all defendants. Beyond plaintiff's allegations at trial that defendants changed their testimony from the arraignment to the actual trial for attempted escape,
plaintiff offers no other evidence bearing directly on defendants' conduct. Unfortunately, part of the record of the arraignment is missing and the Commonwealth cannot produce the record of plaintiff's trial for attempted escape. Although these disappearances may seem suspect, they are not enough alone or on this record to find defendants liable to plaintiff either individually or in combination. We conclude as a matter of law that plaintiff has not carried his evidentiary burden against defendants.
Accordingly, we enter judgment for defendants Rambo and LaSpina and against plaintiff.
C. Claims Against Defendant Gable Individually and Against Defendants Gable and Taylor in Combination.
Plaintiff's claim against defendant Gable individually is that defendant, as Warden of Delaware County Prison, acted arbitrarily and maliciously in petitioning for his transfer to Graterford as a security risk. Plaintiff does not dispute the constitutionality of transferring a prisoner from one institution to another as a security risk; he contests the constitutionality of so doing without any justifiable reason to believe that the prisoner actually is a security risk. Plaintiff offers no evidence supporting a conclusion that defendant Gable acted arbitrarily, however. In fact, plaintiff admits that prior to his transfer he had a preliminary hearing before a judicial officer on the charge of attempted escape. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at this hearing at which defendants Gable, Rambo, and LaSpina testified. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Nesbitt found probable cause to hold plaintiff for trial, and the next day defendant Gable petitioned for plaintiff's transfer. Under Pa.R.Crim.P. 141(d), if the Commonwealth does not establish a prima facie case against an accused at a preliminary hearing and no reasonable grounds exist for continuance, he must be discharged. Moreover, under Pa.R.Crim.P. 141(c), at the hearing the accused has the right to counsel, to cross-examine witnesses, to present evidence, and to compel witnesses to appear and testify in his behalf. In the absence of evidence of prejudice or a "frame-up" by prison authorities, we cannot imagine a more rational and constitutional procedure for defendant Gable's determining to transfer plaintiff to Graterford as a security risk.
Plaintiff also contests the state procedure by which he was transferred to Graterford. Plaintiff claims that under 61 P.S. § 72, the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors and not Warden Gable had to apply for plaintiff's transfer.
Since defendant Gable petitioned for the transfer and defendant Taylor approved it, plaintiff argues, they acted beyond the scope of their authority in transferring him. Plaintiff next asserts that since his illegal transfer resulted in his being confined under unconstitutional conditions at Graterford, defendants Gable and Taylor are liable to him. We cannot accept this rather finely attenuated theory. First, even if defendants did not follow the correct procedure in transferring plaintiff,
a state procedural error, without more, does not subject plaintiff "to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution . . ."
Second, except under a "but for" theory of causation, which we reject, defendants are not responsible for what went on at Graterford after the transfer.
Accordingly, judgment is entered for defendants Gable and Taylor and against plaintiff.
D. Claim Against Defendant Zigler.20
Plaintiff claims that defendant John Zigler, Warden of Delaware County Prison in 1971, injured him by transferring him back to Graterford after he was acquitted of attempted escape in February 1971. Plaintiff reasons that his acquittal invalidated the original order placing him in Graterford as a security risk and that defendant Zigler was, therefore, unauthorized to transfer him back to Graterford. We note that in February 1971 plaintiff had already been convicted of robbery and placed in the general prison population at Graterford. As with defendants Gable and Taylor, however, even if defendant Zigler made a procedural error under state law, and there is absolutely no evidence of this, such an error does not rise to a constitutional level.
Accordingly, judgment is entered for defendant Zigler and against plaintiff.
E. Claim Against Defendant Rundle.
We have found that plaintiff was placed in "B-Block, Administrative Segregation" because he was an untried prisoner or pretrial detainee (Finding of Fact No. 10). We have further found that the living conditions of prisoners on B-Gallery, taken as a whole, were significantly more restricted than those of the general prison population (Finding of Fact No. 11). Given these findings, we will now examine the question of what constitutional theory, if any, can afford plaintiff a basis for relief.
The possibility that placing pretrial detainees under more restricted and inconvenient conditions than other prisoners violates the detainees' constitutional rights is one which courts are entertaining with increasing frequency.
The courts which have found constitutional violations of the rights of pretrial detainees, however, have not always agreed on the specific constitutional basis for their decisions.
Some courts have been urged to find that the "presumption of innocence" provides a constitutional foundation for the rights of pretrial detainees. In Blunt v. United States,
the District of Columbia Court of Appeals strongly rejected this urging.
The court did not reach the issue of the possible constitutional underpinnings of the presumption itself; instead it found:
The importance of this presumption stems from the fact that in early English law, the accused was required to present evidence to prove his innocence.