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RONALD TOWNES v. LOWELL D. HEWITT (07/20/84)

decided: July 20, 1984.

RONALD TOWNES, ANTHONY ROBERSON, ROBERT HAGWOOD, KEVIN GANS, IVORY WOODBURY AND ROBERT B. JONES
v.
LOWELL D. HEWITT, D. R. ERHARD, T. W. HENRY, W. W. MATEER, R. E. HEFRIGHT, R. E. STOTELMYER, B. K. SMITH, G. WILLISON, R. FORTSON AND K. R. HILEMAN, PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE, STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AT HUNTINGDON, ROBERT B JONES AND IVORY WOODBURY, APPELLANTS



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County in case of Ronald Townes, Anthony Roberson, Robert Hagwood, Kevin Gans, Ivory Woodbury and Robert B. Jones v. Lowell D. Hewitt, D. R. Erhard, T. W. Henry, W. W. Mateer, R. E. Hefright, R. E. Stotelmyer, B. K. Smith, G. Willison, R. Fortson, and K. R. Hileman, Program Review Committee, State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon, No. 79-113, dated August 10, 1983.

COUNSEL

Richard G. Fishman, for appellants.

Francis R. Filipi, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for appellees.

Judges MacPhail, Doyle and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Doyle.

Author: Doyle

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 152]

This matter is before us on the appeal of Robert B. Jones and Ivory Woodbury (Appellants) from a final decree dismissing exceptions to a decree nisi entered by the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 153]

County which granted summary judgment in favor of the Appellees.

This action was commenced on January 22, 1979 by Appellants and other inmates*fn1 at the State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon (SCIH) against numerous correctional officers and civilian employees at SCIH*fn2 for violation of their constitutional rights under the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, state law and the State Constitution, arising out of administrative disciplinary action taken against them following a riot at the prison on December 3, 1978. The plaintiff inmates sought injunctive and declaratory relief as well as damages.

The action here paralleled one then pending in the federal courts which stemmed from the same incident and alleged virtually identical constitutional violations.*fn3 Per agreement of the parties, the court of common pleas stayed proceedings in the case at bar until the litigation in the federal courts had been resolved. Following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the federal action, Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, (1983), the matter was briefed and argued before the court of common pleas and summary judgment in favor of the Defendants was entered. The court of common pleas found Helms to be dispositive of all the

[ 84 Pa. Commw. Page 154]

    issues raised by the inmates except those additional issues presented by Plaintiffs Jones and Woodbury. The court found Jones' and Woodbury's additional allegations to be unsupported by law. Timely exceptions were filed and were denied by the court. Appeal to this Court by Jones and Woodbury followed.

Before this Court, Appellants raise only those issues not controlled by Helms. They argue first that they received no written notice of the charge for which they were ultimately punished, in violation of their right to due process of law. Both were charged with "assaulting officers and conspiracy to disrupt normal institution routine by forcefully taking over the control center," offenses under the Bureau of Corrections' code of conduct. See 37 Pa. Code §§ 95.102a(13), 95.102a(16). Following administrative proceedings, however, both were found to have "disobeyed orders," a violation of 37 Pa. Code § 95.102(18). The court of common pleas reasoned that ...


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