ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA.
Seitz, Chief Judge, Adams, and Garth, Circuit Judges. Seitz, Chief Judge, dissenting.
Leroy Hadden appeals from an order of the district court dismissing his civil rights claim. He contends that his right to due process was violated when the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections punished him for slanderous remarks about prison personnel made in an internal complaint that he filed against a prison guard. This Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1976).
Appellant Hadden is an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (SCIP); appellees are present or former employees of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections. On September 15, 1980 Hadden filed a civil rights complaint seeking damages and declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201 & 2202, asserting jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1343 and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Hadden alleged that appellees violated his constitutional rights when they sentenced him to a thirty day term in a segregation disciplinary unit for slanderous remarks about prison personnel.
In accordance with Rule 4 of the Local Rules for Magistrates, the district court referred the case to a magistrate for an evidentiary hearing. After this hearing, the magistrate issued proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommendation that the district court dismiss the complaint. Hadden filed objections to the magistrate's report and recommendation. Upon a de novo determination pursuant to Rule 4(b) of the Local Rules for Magistrates, the district court dismissed Hadden's complaint. Hadden filed a timely notice of appeal.
The relevant facts underlying the appeal are undisputed. On September 11, 1979 Hadden filed a complaint under the Inmate Complaint Review System, 37 Pa. Code §§ 95.131-95.133 (1976), alleging that a prison guard, Michael Boris, had forced him to engage in homosexual acts. The Special Services Division of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections conducted an investigation of Hadden's complaint, which included interviews of several parties and a polygraph test of Hadden, and concluded that Hadden's allegations were false. Hadden's complaint was dismissed on September 18, 1979.
On January 11, 1980, disciplinary charges were filed against Hadden accusing him of making "unfounded, slanderous and derogatory statements about SCIP personnel," in violation of 37 Pa. Code § 95.102a(b).*fn1 After due notice, a hearing was held. At the hearing, Hadden took the position that section 95.131(c) of the Code*fn2 gives him the right to file the complaint and immunizes him from discipline for any statements in the complaint, even [those of a maliciously defamatory nature. The prison disciplinary tribunal found that Hadden's statement was a "deliberate attempt to degrade the character of [the guard]" and that section 95.131(c) did not provide immunity for such statements. Hadden was then sentenced to a thirty day term in a disciplinary unit. The imposition of this disciplinary sanction was sustained by a prison review committee.
During the course of the disciplinary proceedings, Hadden requested that the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corrections, William Robinson, intervene on his behalf. Commissioner Robinson refused to do so because, as he explained in a January 22, 1982 letter to Hadden, section 95.131(c) does not immunize "maliciously untrue" statements.
After Hadden completed his term in the disciplinary unit, he filed a complaint in the district court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the discipline imposed upon him violated his fourteenth amendment right to due process. The magistrate to whom the matter was referred conducted a hearing and made findings of fact which were adopted by the district court. The findings relevant to the issues present in this appeal are:
3. On September 10, 1979, defendant Boris charged plaintiff with threatening an officer, refusing to obey an order and attempted intimidation of an officer.
4. On September 11, 1979, plaintiff filed an official inmate complaint charging defendant Boris with forcing him to engage in homosexual conduct in June or July, 1979.
5. On September 18, 1979, plaintiff was advised that his complaint against defendant Boris was dismissed. Plaintiff was further advised by defendant Thomas W. Seiverling, the inmate complaint officer, that "no inmate shall be disciplined for filing a complaint or otherwise pursuing a remedy in the complaint system, but no immunity is afforded ...