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KING v. CUYLER

June 18, 1982

Daniel KING
v.
Julius T. CUYLER, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GILES

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff, Daniel King, an inmate at the State Correctional Institute at Graterford ("Graterford") brought this action for compensatory damages and declaratory relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Supp. IV 1980), and 28 U.S.C. § 2201 (Supp. IV 1980) claiming that the defendants, correction officers and the superintendent at Graterford, subjected plaintiff to cruel and unusual punishment and deprived him of his rights to equal protection and due process of the law in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. *fn1" The plaintiff's complaint alleges that defendants conspired to and did falsely convict him of misconduct and possession of marijuana. Further, plaintiff alleges that at a subsequent disciplinary hearing on the misconduct charge he was deprived of the right to call witnesses in the presentation of his defense. As a result of his misconduct conviction, plaintiff lost his pre-release status and his outside job, and was required to serve 30 days in maximum confinement without his personal belongings.

 Two of the named defendants, Superintendent Julius Cuyler and Lieutenant Stanley Korick, have filed this motion for summary judgment on the grounds that plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to establish their personal involvement in the purported deprivations of plaintiff's constitutional rights. *fn2" For the following reasons, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

 The Standard for Granting Summary Judgment

 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) provides that summary judgment shall be granted only if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Further, in considering the motion for summary judgment, the facts contained in the pleadings, affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, here the plaintiff. *fn3"

 The facts surrounding the allegedly illegal search are disputed. Plaintiff claims that defendant Glace strip searched him in his cell. Having found no contraband, defendant Glace then took the plaintiff to the Day Captain's office where the ranking officer, Captain Mohychic, ordered defendants Glace and Korick to strip search him a second time. The plaintiff's clothing and personal effects were then examined before those present *fn4" and were laid upon a desk at the front of the office. According to the plaintiff, defendant Glace then picked up a brown bag from the floor next to the desk. He handed the bag to defendant Korick who looked at it and stated that the bag belonged to plaintiff. Marijuana was allegedly found in the bag. The plaintiff, however, denied that the marijuana belonged to him and claimed that he had been framed. Nevertheless, he was accused of possessing contraband and a written reprimand, or misconduct, was executed concerning the alleged illegal act. *fn5" Although the misconduct was written by Lieutenant Ewing, defendant Korick allegedly instructed him regarding the language he should use in describing the incident. *fn6"

 At the plaintiff's subsequent hearing on the misconduct before the Hearing Committee, *fn7" he requested the assistance of Simon Evans, a fellow inmate, in the presentation of his case and requested the presence of a witness to testify on his behalf. The latter request was denied. *fn8" The Hearing Committee approved the issuance of the misconduct and plaintiff then appealed the decision to the Program Review Committee (PRC), which approved the Hearing Committee's report, noting that there were no significant procedural violations. The decision of the PRC was then reviewed by the defendant, Julius Cuyler, the Superintendent at Graterford, who signed the PRC report under the preprinted notation "Hearing Committee and Program Review Committee action was completed."

 Defendants Korick and Cuyler contend these facts do not establish their personal involvement in either the conspiracy to frame plaintiff or in the denial of witnesses at the disciplinary hearing. Defendants claim that the personal involvement of a person alleged to have denied a constitutional right under color of law is a vital element of a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Absent evidence of personal involvement, defendants claim that there can be no material issue of fact as to moving defendants and that judgment as a matter of law is appropriate.

 Plaintiff, on the other hand, asserts that he has set forth facts sufficient to prove direct personal involvement by Korick in the conspiracy to frame plaintiff. *fn9" As to defendant Cuyler, plaintiff asserts that he has established "personal involvement." First, he asserts that Cuyler, in his capacity as Superintendent, approved the findings of the Program Review Committee without challenging the fact that plaintiff was denied his right to present witnesses. Second, plaintiff claims that Cuyler perpetuated a general policy or practice which allowed violations of inmates' rights to occur. Plaintiff claims that this sufficiently states a cause of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and that summary judgment is, therefore, inappropriate.

 I will consider first the parties' arguments as they pertain to Superintendent Cuyler.

 Plaintiff would impose liability on Cuyler for his participation in the denial of witnesses at plaintiff's disciplinary hearing. Even viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, he cannot prevail on this claim. Under the applicable prison regulations, Cuyler played no part in the Hearing Committee's decision to prohibit testimony by witnesses. His sole responsibility under the regulations was to review the findings of the Program Review Committee in order to sustain, amend, or reverse the decision. Admin. Directive 801, III H(7), (Rev. 10/78).

 Cuyler did review the Hearing Committee's and PRC's findings, as indicated by his signature on the PRC report. Thus, plaintiff's only claim is that he did not properly exercise his review function. As a matter of law, I find no evidence from which a reasonable person could find that Cuyler acted improperly in his review.

 At the time of his review, Cuyler had before him the Hearing Committee's report, the Program Review Committee's report, plaintiff's request for appeal, the misconduct report and plaintiff's inmate record. It was not apparent from the face of these papers that plaintiff was deprived of any procedural due process rights. The Program Review Committee concluded that there were no significant procedural violations. Plaintiff did not raise the issue of procedural violations in his request for appeal. The Hearing Committee's report in this case does not indicate that there were any procedural violations. Thus, Cuyler had no basis on the records before him for concluding that plaintiff had been deprived of his procedural rights-here, the right to a witness at his misconduct hearing.

 When, as here, no procedural violation is apparent from the face of the documents submitted to the Superintendent for review, plaintiff has no claim that he was deprived of procedural due process because the Superintendent failed to investigate and challenge the procedures utilized before the Hearing Committee. *fn10" Given the records before Cuyler at the time of his review, I ...


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