such as Defendant, discretion to place or retain a prisoner in Administrative Segregation. Stephany, 835 F.2d at 502.
Lehigh County Prison Regulations provide that a Warden may place a prisoner in Administrative Segregation for any of several enumerated reasons, "or for other reasons as determined by the Warden." Sweeney Aff. Ex. A. at 1. There is no provision in the Regulations for a hearing to challenge the Warden's decision to place a prisoner in Administrative Segregation.
Id. The Regulations, therefore, give the Warden of the Lehigh County Prison discretion to classify someone to Administrative Segregation and to retain that classification. Under Stephany, when the decision to place and retain a prisoner in Administrative Segregation is "left wholly unchecked," there is no state-created liberty interest. Id. Indeed, a case recently decided by our Court involving the same defendant and the same Administrative Segregation rules as this case, held that the plaintiff had no due process right to a hearing before being classified Administrative Segregation, nor a right to be placed in the General Population. Robinson v. Klotz, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 717, No. 94-1993, slip op. at 10 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 27, 1995) (Buckwalter, J.).
Here, Defendant's power to place Plaintiff in Administrative Segregation was wholly unchecked, therefore, we find that the state has not created a liberty interest, and thus, Plaintiff has no due process right to a hearing concerning placement and retention in Administrative Segregation. For this reason, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's due process claim concerning placement and retention in Administrative Segregation is GRANTED.
Next, Plaintiff asserts that his civil rights were violated in that he was denied access to the law library and the courts as well as access to religious materials. Defendant does not address the legal aspects of this claim in his Brief, but does aver in his Affidavit that Plaintiff was at all times permitted access to the law library, visits with his attorney, access to items needed for the practice of his religion, visits with his approved clergy, and all other privileges provided to prisoners in General Population except those involving freedom of movement.
Prisoners, even those in segregation, have a constitutional right to meaningful access to the courts via access to law libraries. Valentine v. Beyer, 850 F.2d 951 (3d Cir. 1988). In addition, prisoners have a constitutional right to free exercise of their religion. O'Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 96 L. Ed. 2d 282, 107 S. Ct. 2400 (1987). A prison can, however, limit access to even Constitutionally protected rights when it determines that limits are necessary to further legitimate penal interests, and so long as the limits do not "substantially burden" the prisoner's right to free exercise. Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401, 407, 104 L. Ed. 2d 459, 109 S. Ct. 1874 (1989) (limiting 1st Amendment right of access to certain magazines); 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1. To allege a constitutional deprivation of the right of access to the courts, a prisoner must allege an actual injury. Peterkin v. Jeffes, 855 F.2d 1021, 1039 (3d Cir. 1988). To allege a violation of the right to exercise one's religion, a plaintiff must allege a substantial burden on the exercise. Robinson, slip op. at 16.
In this case, even construing Plaintiff's pro se complaint generously, and resolving all doubts in his favor under Rule 56, we find that Plaintiff has not sufficiently alleged facts to support either claim. He merely avers, "Plaintiff was denied access to the courts. Plaintiff was denied access to practice his religious faith." These conclusory averments do not rise to the level of an allegation of "actual injury" or "substantial burden." Moreover, Plaintiff's contentions do not rise to the level of "specific facts" sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact under Rule 56(e), given that Defendant has specifically averred that Plaintiff was not denied access to the courts, to the law library, to religious articles, or to his choice of clergy. Accordingly, we grant summary judgment on this aspect of Plaintiff's Complaint.
Plaintiff's affidavit states that he has a claim of equal protection violation as well as his due process claims. Nowhere in either his Complaint or his opposition to this Motion, however, does Plaintiff allege facts to support this claim, or give any factual basis for the claim. We find, therefore, that Plaintiff has not created a genuine issue of material fact that he was treated differently than anyone else in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Accordingly, we grant summary judgment on this claim. An appropriate Order follows.
AND NOW, this day of April, 1995, upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, and responses thereto, the Motion is hereby GRANTED.
BY THE COURT:
J. CURTIS JOYNER, J.