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PROUDFOOT v. WILLIAMS

September 17, 1992

Robert W. Proudfoot
v.
C.O. I A. Williams, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BY THE COURT; JOHN R. PADOVA

 Padova, J.

 September 17, 1992

 Findings of Fact

 1. Plaintiff, Robert W. Proudfoot, has been incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford ("Graterford") since May of 1990.

 2. Defendants Arthur Williams, Gerald Shemanski, Michael Witman, and Donald Thomas are employed at Graterford as Corrections Officers. All defendants are currently members of the "search team" at Graterford, which conducts searches of cells and other areas of the institution.

 3. Proudfoot is 6'3" tall. In October of 1991 he weighed approximately 260-270 pounds. Williams is 5'6" tall; in October of 1991 he weighed approximately 190 pounds. Shemanski is 5'7" tall; in October of 1991 he weighed approximately 140 pounds.

 4. On October 16, 1991, Witman and Thomas were directed by Lieutenant Michael C. Barone to search plaintiff's cell, A-55, after Barone received information from an anonymous informant that drugs were being sold from the cell.

 5. During the course of this search Witman and Thomas disarranged papers and property kept by plaintiff but did not "trash" or destroy the papers and files.

 6. In plaintiff's cell on October 16, 1991 were oversized, sealed and stamped envelopes, addressed to the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro of this Court and to an attorney. The contents of the envelopes were letters and attachments concerning legal matters.

 7. Witman picked up the letters, at which time plaintiff told Witman that the contents were privileged legal mail. Witman opened these sealed envelopes, removed the letters, and checked for contraband. During the course of this action, Witman scanned the letters, giving plaintiff the impression that the letters were being read by Witman.

 8. Thomas did not open any sealed envelopes or examine those opened by Witman.

 9. On October 24, 1991, at the direction of Barone, Witman and Thomas again searched Proudfoot's cell for drugs as reported by an anonymous informant.

 10. During the course of this search, Witman and Thomas disarranged papers and property kept by plaintiff but did not "trash" or destroy the papers or files.

 11. On October 29, 1991, Williams and Shemanski were directed to search Proudfoot's cell. Williams and Shemanski were unaware of the searches of Proudfoot's cell on October 16, 1991, and October 24, 1991.

 12. The October 29, 1991 search of Proudfoot's cell was the third within eight days. Each search was investigative in nature to determine whether contraband was in the cell; however, no drugs or money were found on any of these occasions.

 13. When Shemanski and Williams went to the cell on October 29, 1991 to conduct the search, the cell was double-locked, meaning that only corrections officers could enter the cell. Proudfoot and his cellmate, Vincent Fischetti, had been double locked in their cell as a disciplinary sanction.

 14. After Shemanski and Williams removed the double-lock, they were unable to open the door because of an unauthorized "jam" placed in the door by Proudfoot and Fischetti. The corrections officers ordered the inmates to remove the jam. Fischetti moved from the bunk to the door but did not immediately remove the jam. ...


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