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MAYBERRY v. SOMNER

November 28, 1979

RICHARD O. J. MAYBERRY
v.
HARRY SOMNER, et al



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LUONGO

This is a Pro se action under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for injunctive and declaratory *fn1" relief and damages. Plaintiff is a state prisoner. Defendants Somner and Shaefer were guards at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Jurisdiction is based upon 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3). The action is before me on defendants' motions to dismiss, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b), and for summary judgment, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The record consists of an affidavit and certain state court documents submitted by defendants; plaintiff has not submitted any evidence.

 The other two bases of plaintiff's suit are his transfer from the Chester County prison to the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Pennsylvania, while he was awaiting trial in Chester County, and an alleged conspiracy involving Commissioner Stewart Werner under which Mayberry contended that he was in danger of being "sent to Farview State Hospital . . . to be confined in a maximum security prison ward, forcibly drugged, beaten, tortured and murdered."

 Mayberry charges that defendants' actions subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment and deprived him of due process of law, equal protection of the laws, the rights to counsel and access to the courts, and freedom of speech.

 In an order dated May 30, 1974, *fn2" I granted plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis and ordered defendants Somner and Shaefer to respond to the complaint. Commissioner Werner was also named as a defendant, but was a resident of the Western District of Pennsylvania, and therefore venue had been improperly laid in this district as to him.

 On July 11, 1974, Mayberry was indicted by a Pennsylvania grand jury for attempted murder, assault, attempted escape, and various firearm offenses, *fn3" all arising out of the events that occurred on January 21, 1974, while Mayberry was being transported as described above. On April 17, 1975, plaintiff appeared before Judge D. T. Marrone of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas and pleaded guilty to attempted murder, two counts of assault, possessing instruments of a crime, and attempted escape. *fn4" The pleas were entered as part of a plea bargain in which the Commonwealth agreed to request dismissal of the remaining counts of the indictment against plaintiff and to request dismissal of all charges pending against plaintiff's brother, James Daniel Mayberry, for his alleged part in Mayberry's attempted escape. *fn5"

 On August 13, 1974, defendants filed a motion to dismiss, contending, inter alia, that plaintiff lacked standing to assert the Farview State Hospital aspect of his case; plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted; and abstention was required because a state criminal action was pending under the July 11 indictment. On October 14, 1975, following Mayberry's guilty plea, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, renewing the standing contention and asserting that defendants were entitled to judgment on the attempted murder claim on the basis of the guilty plea and the doctrine of collateral estoppel. Consideration of these motions was delayed pending resolution of other matters bearing on whether I should be the judge in this case. *fn6" There was additional delay due to Mayberry's failure to respond to outstanding motions. Those matters having been resolved, I shall now consider defendants' motions. Because matters outside the pleadings have been presented, I shall treat some aspects of the August 13, 1974 motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b).

 First, the defendants argue that Mayberry has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted with respect to his transfer from Chester County Prison to the State Correctional Institution at Dallas. Mayberry does not claim that he had a due process right to a hearing before being transferred to Dallas. See, e.g., Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 96 S. Ct. 2532, 49 L. Ed. 2d 451 (1976). Rather, he argues that the transfer violated his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment, because he was awaiting trial on criminal charges in Chester County at the time, and his transfer hampered his ability to cooperate with his lawyer to prepare a defense.

 The Commonwealth has the undoubted power to transfer prisoners in its custody. United States ex rel. Verde v. Case, 326 F. Supp. 701, 704 (E.D.Pa.1971). The question in this case is whether Mayberry's transfer so interfered with his ability to communicate with counsel that under the circumstances it rose to the level of a constitutional deprivation. Although Mayberry asserts in conclusory fashion that the transfer denied him his right to counsel, he does not allege any specific instances in which he had difficulty communicating with counsel, nor any specific ways in which his transfer hindered him in preparing his defense. A civil rights complaint which makes only broad and conclusory allegations and fails to state facts in support of its conclusions is subject to dismissal, notwithstanding the liberal rules of pleading that prevail in a civil rights action brought by a prisoner. Gray v. Creamer, 465 F.2d 179, 182 n.2 (3d Cir. 1972); Negrich v. Hohn, 379 F.2d 213, 215 (3d Cir. 1967). In this context, I agree with the court in Wells v. McGinnis, 344 F. Supp. 594, 596 (S.D.N.Y.1972) that mere transfer to another institution while legal proceedings are pending does not, in the absence of more specific allegations of interference with counsel, constitute a deprivation of civil rights. Mayberry therefore has stated no claim predicated solely on his having been transferred to Dallas at a time when charges were pending against him in Chester County.

 Second, the defendants argue that Mayberry's claims under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, arising out of the alleged conspiracy to transfer him to Farview State Hospital, should be dismissed for failure to comply with the threshold requirement of Article III of the Constitution, namely, that there be an actual case or controversy capable of adjudication. *fn7" In both their motion to dismiss and their motion for summary judgment the defendants contend that because Mayberry made no allegation in his complaint that he was in fact transferred to Farview, and because since the filing of his complaint he has not been transferred to Farview, he has at best posed a hypothetical possibility of injury that is insufficient to meet the requirements of Article III.

 Article III requires that those who seek to invoke the jurisdiction of the federal courts must allege an actual case or controversy. O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 493, 94 S. Ct. 669, 38 L. Ed. 2d 674 (1974); Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 94-101, 88 S. Ct. 1942, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947 (1968). To meet this requirement, plaintiffs seeking injunctive relief in federal court must allege actual or imminent injury, O'Shea, supra, 414 U.S. at 493, 94 S. Ct. 669, and the injury must be "real and immediate," not "conjectural" or "hypothetical." Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 109-110, 89 S. Ct. 956, 22 L. Ed. 2d 113 (1969).

 Here, Mayberry's allegation that there was a conspiracy to transfer him to Farview may have been sufficient to establish imminent danger or injury to him at the time the complaint was filed. However, over fifteen months after the filing of the complaint, at the time defendants filed their motion for summary judgment, Mayberry had still not been transferred to Farview. (See Exhibit "C", Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment). Now, some five years after the filing of the suit, there is nothing in the record to reflect that there has been such a transfer. Mayberry did argue, in his memorandum of law in support of his answer to defendants' motion to dismiss, that on June 5, 1973, sometime Before this suit was filed, he was transferred to Farview where he was injected with the tranquilizer Prolixin. However, even if I were to assume that this prior transfer to Farview were for some reason illegal, "(p)ast exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself show a present case or controversy regarding injunctive relief, . . . if unaccompanied by any continuing, present adverse effects." O'Shea, supra, 414 U.S. at 495-96, 94 S. Ct. at 676. In the suit now before me, Mayberry has not alleged facts sufficient to establish the existence of a genuine threat that he will be transferred illegally to Farview or that there is an ongoing conspiracy to harm him after transfer there.

 Although I hold that Mayberry has not alleged a sufficient case or controversy to invoke the court's jurisdiction here, I note that he is not without recourse if a genuine dispute should arise. Mayberry in this suit seeks an injunction prohibiting the defendants from transferring him to Farview unless he is given notice, a psychiatric examination, a hearing, and the assistance of counsel. During the pendency of this action, Judge R. Dixon Herman of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania entered a declaratory judgment that in effect requires that state prisoners in Pennsylvania be accorded the rights that Mayberry seeks here before they are transferred to Farview State Hospital. United States ex rel. Souder v. Watson, 413 F. Supp. 711, 717 (M.D.Pa.1976). Thus, if at sometime in the future Mayberry should be confronted with imminent transfer to Farview or is transferred without being accorded his rights, he will be entitled to relief by filing suit at that time.

 Finally, the defendants argue that Mayberry's claims based upon the alleged attempt to murder him while he was being transferred from Chester County Prison to the State Correctional Institution at Dallas are barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel, because as noted above, Mayberry pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the incident that occurred while he was being transferred. Defendants argue that Mayberry's guilty plea constituted an admission of the truth of the charges against him, and that the plea conclusively established that it was he who attacked the prison guards ...


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