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TAYLOR v. COX

December 27, 1995

MITCHELL TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
SGT. COX (SCIG) et. al, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLOCH

 Brody, J.

 Before me for disposition is the "Motion to Dismiss of Commonwealth Defendants", filed by defendants Cox, Burns and Womack. For the following reasons, defendants' motion will be denied in part and granted in part.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Pro se plaintiff Taylor is an inmate presently incarcerated at SCI-Huntington. On May 3, 1995, plaintiff was temporarily transferred from SCI-Huntington to SCI-Graterford for purposes of a parole violation hearing. Plaintiff alleges that upon his transfer to SCI-Graterford, certain legal and religious materials were seized from him and held in the prison's property room until the completion of his parole hearing. *fn1"

 Plaintiff claims that this seizure of his property interfered with his right of access to court, since he was prevented from using his legal materials during his parole hearing. *fn2" Plaintiff also claims that this seizure of property interfered with his constitutional right to freedom of religion, since the confiscation of his Koran prevented him from practicing the Muslim rites of Ramadan. *fn3"

 When plaintiff was transferred back to SCI-Huntington, his materials were seized again, and were not returned until May 31, 1995. Plaintiff alleges that this second seizure of his property also infringed upon his right of access to court. Plaintiff claims that among the documents seized was a subpoena for a court appearance on May 26, 1995. Plaintiff claims that, because the subpoena was taken from his possession, he was unable to prove that he had an appointment in court, and, as a consequence, he missed his court appearance. As a result of plaintiff's absence, the proceedings were postponed until July 5, 1995, resulting in plaintiff's unnecessary additional incarceration for a period of one month and ten days.

 In his complaint, plaintiff alleges various harms. With regard to the right of access to court issue, plaintiff claims that he was harmed by his inability to adequately defend himself at his parole hearing, and his inability to appear at the second hearing, resulting in additional incarceration. To redress these harms, plaintiff demands nominal damages and an injunction to prevent future seizures of the property of any prisoner (including plaintiff) who is transferred to SCI-Graterford.

 With regard to the freedom of religion claim, plaintiff makes a more general statement of harm, claiming that his constitutional rights were infringed upon and demanding nominal damages as redress.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Motion to Dismiss pursuant to F.R.C.P 12(b)(1)

 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) permits the court to dismiss an action for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Defendants move to dismiss the complaint on 12(b)(1) grounds, claiming that this court lacks jurisdiction "because plaintiff fails to raise state [sic] a claim premised upon a constitutional issue". However, plaintiff has brought a ยง 1983 claim based on two separate constitutional grounds: plaintiff alleges violations of both his constitutional right of access to court and his constitutional right of freedom of religion. Therefore, due to the constitutional nature of his claims, this court has jurisdiction, and defendants' 12(b)(1) claim for lack of jurisdiction fails.

 B. Motion for a More Definite Statement pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(e)


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