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UNITED STATES EX REL. SILVERMAN v. PENNSYLVANIA

November 24, 1981

UNITED STATES of America, ex rel., Michael SILVERMAN, and Anthony Szymanski, et al; and all individuals equally situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Department of Justice, Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections, William B. Robinson, Commissioner; James F. Howard, Superintendent; Robert Maroney, Deputy Superintendent; J. Donald Brian, Deputy Superintendent; James Wigton, Director of Treatment; Charles Kozakiewicz, Captain; Kenneth Baily, Correctional Officer 1 William Reed, Educational Supervisor, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ZIEGLER

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

(1) Plaintiff, Michael Silverman, is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a resident of the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, Pennsylvania.

 (2) Michael Silverman was a resident of the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh at the time the complaint was filed as the result of the judgment of sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, dated December 29, 1978. Silverman was convicted of kidnapping, robbery and burglary and his parole date is December 29, 1988.

 (3) Plaintiff, Anthony Szymanski, is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and was a resident of the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh at the time the complaint was filed. Szymanski withdrew as a party to this litigation on June 5, 1979.

 (4) Plaintiff, Michael Silverman, instituted this civil action for money damages, injunctive and declaratory relief, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Justice, Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections, and the above named individual defendants.

 (5) Jurisdiction is predicated on 28 U.S.C. § 1343.

 (6) Plaintiff's complaint contains allegations that defendants violated certain constitutional precepts and also the contention that various disciplinary procedures at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh violated a consent decree which was approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on May 22, 1978. See Imprisoned Citizens Union, et al. v. Shapp, 451 F. Supp. 893 (E.D.Pa.1980) (Lord, J.). Finally, plaintiff contends the challenged procedures are violative of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Administrative Directive BC-ADM 801, which is a product of the litigation before Chief Judge Joseph S. Lord, III, at civil action numbers 70-2545, 70-3054, 71-513, 71-1006 and 72-2060.

 (7) Administrative Directive BC-ADM 801, as amended, provides in part that an impartial tribunal shall be convened to adjudicate alleged infractions of institutional rules and regulations of the state prisons in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the hearing committee at the institution shall comprise:

 
(A) a permanent member who is either the major or captain of the guard;
 
(B) a caseworker or school supervisor, both of whom may rotate periodically; and
 
(C) the inmate's counselor or supervisor.

 Additionally, misconduct reports must be signed by the ranking correctional officer on duty.

 (8) The instant action was referred to a magistrate of this court and a hearing was held. The magistrate issued a written recommendation in which he addressed the non-constitutional questions. In essence, he recommended that his court transfer a portion of the action to Judge Lord for a determination of whether the procedures at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh violated the consent decree, while retaining jurisdiction for a subsequent determination of the constitutional questions by this court.

 (9) After consultation with Judge Lord, we rejected the magistrate's recommendation and proceeded to trial on the constitutional questions raised by plaintiff. Emrick v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 624 F.2d 450 (3d Cir. 1980) teaches that a district court should not decline to exercise jurisdiction over those claims which are not related to a consent decree approved by another court. This is particularly appropriate where, as here, the alleged constitutional infractions took place in this forum, the relevant evidence is at hand and venue is extant.

 (10) This procedure is also sound since plaintiff was a resident of the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh and therefore has constitutional standing to challenge, before this court, the actions which took place during his confinement within this district. As in Emrick, if relief is denied we will dismiss without prejudice the non-constitutional claims so that plaintiff may pursue those claims in a separate action before the court that is supervising the consent decree. Moreover, since Silverman is now a resident of Graterford Prison, near Philadelphia, which is within the jurisdiction of the District Court for the Eastern District, he may pursue those claims, including an action for contempt, in the appropriate forum. See Emrick v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., supra, at 453-454.

 (11) On October 20, 1981, this court proceeded to hear the constitutional claims in a bench trial following the appointment of able trial counsel for plaintiff. We note that this court has jurisdiction to consider those claims only as they relate to Michael Silverman. An inmate must allege a personal loss and seek to vindicate a deprivation of his own constitutional rights. See Weaver v. Wilcox, 650 F.2d 22 (3d Cir. 1981). This court's jurisdiction is limited to actual cases and controversies in which a plaintiff has a personal stake in the outcome, United States Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 396-97, 100 S. Ct. 1202, 1208-09, 63 L. Ed. 2d 479 (1980), and we will not consider those allegations of plaintiff on behalf of the inmate population at Pittsburgh. In addition, plaintiff never moved for class certification.

 (12) At trial, plaintiff contended that his rights to due process and equal protection of the laws were violated by officials at Western Penitentiary (SCIP) because they have: (a) compiled and disseminated erroneous information from his prison file; (b) subjected him to continuous harassment and oppression by transferring him from one cellblock to another and conducting searches of his cell without his consent; (c) confiscated legal materials in his possession and segregated him from the general population for being a "jailhouse lawyer;" (d) excluded him from vocational and educational programs due to the length of his sentence; (e) denied him the right to a fair and impartial tribunal for disciplinary proceedings; (f) conducted hearings before a committee which was biased and composed in violation of Directive 801; (g) instituted disciplinary proceedings without authorization by the major of the guard; (h) ...


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