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BROOKS v. SHIPMAN

September 15, 1980

George Rahsaan BROOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
Officer SHIPMAN, Ralph LaGrotto, James Dudley, Matthew Kerr, E. J. Freeman, Callus Smith, Sgt. McCord and Officer Degenes, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARSH

MEMORANDUM

The Plaintiff George Rahsaan Brooks brought a pro se action in forma pauperis presumably under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against "Officer Shipman, Ralph LaGrotto, James Dudley, Matthew Kerr, E. J. Freeman, and Callus Smith" seeking:

 
"(a) A declaratory judgment that the defendants' acts, policies and practices described herein violates plaintiff's rights under the United States Constitution.
 
"(b) A declaratory judgment that defendants acted under the color of state law and that they used their "official capacities' to violate plaintiff's constitutional rights.
 
"(c) Compensatory damages from all defendants and each of them.
 
"(d) Punitive damages from all defendants and each of them.
 
"(e) Trial by jury on all issues triable by jury.
 
"(f) Such other and further relief as this court may deem just, proper and equitable." *fn1"
 
Originally, the Defendant Jeffrey Shipman and the other defendants were represented by the County Solicitor and Assistant County Solicitor. Subsequently, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Mr. Shipman was charged and pleaded guilty to the crimes of: (1) official oppression, 18 Pa.C.S. § 5301(2); (2) Terroristic threats, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2706; (3) contraband (marijuana, preludin and dilaudid), 18 Pa.C.S. § 5123 (three counts); and (4) criminal conspiracy, 18 Pa.C.S. § 903(a)(1) (three counts). These charges were based upon complaints by the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office upon information received from officials of the Allegheny County Jail. Because the officials and staff of the Allegheny County Jail were the prosecuting witnesses for the criminal prosecution of Mr. Shipman, leave was granted to the County Solicitor and Assistant County Solicitor to withdraw their appearance for the Defendant Shipman on account of conflicting interests.
 
On October 12, 1979, pursuant to Plaintiff's affidavit of non-compliance, default was entered by the Clerk against Defendant "Officer Shipman" for failure to comply with an Order of Court compelling discovery.
 
At the pretrial conference, it was agreed by the parties to try the case non-jury. After trial, the court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
 
FINDINGS OF FACT
 
1. On April 12, 1979, the Plaintiff George Rahsaan Brooks, a state prisoner, was confined in the Allegheny County Jail in the 22 Range in Cell P. In that range, there were 22 cells, i. e., A through U.
 
2. Under a jail regulation, prisoners were permitted to write letters to the Sheriff of Allegheny County. *fn2" Prisoners were permitted to place the letter in a sealed envelope without a stamp and the letter would be hand-delivered to a Sheriff's Deputy the next morning.
 
3. On April 12, 1979, the Plaintiff, on the third or fourth page of a legal pad, wrote an unsigned letter addressed to Eugene Coon, Allegheny County Sheriff. *fn3" He placed the legal pad containing the unsigned letter on a table in his cell.
 
4. A sheet of carbon paper made a copy of the letter on the fourth or fifth ...

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