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JUBILEE v. HORN

August 22, 1997

DENNIS JUBILEE, Plaintiff,
v.
MARTIN HORN, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 AUGUST 22, 1997

 Plaintiff Dennis Jubilee ("Plaintiff"), a pro se litigant, is a prisoner at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford ("SCIG"). Defendants are numerous officials and employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") and Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (the "Board"). Plaintiff instituted this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action alleging that Defendants' parole procedures violated his rights under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages.

 On December 10, 1996, we entered an Order dismissing this action in its entirety with prejudice. On December 23, 1996, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment. That motion, taken together with a supporting memorandum filed on January 22, 1997, sought reconsideration of our December 10 Order, leave to file an amended Complaint containing three additional claims, and the appointment of counsel. On April 7, 1997, we granted reconsideration in part by reinstating Plaintiff's substantive due process and equal protection claims. Jubilee v. Horn, 959 F. Supp. 276 (E.D. Pa. 1997)(hereinafter the "April 7 Memorandum"). We also denied Plaintiff's second and third requests without prejudice. Id.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff alleges the following facts. On November 14, 1994, Plaintiff was returned to SCIG for violating the curfew provisions of his parole. After a hearing, the Board recommitted Plaintiff for twelve months for the technical violation and set reparole eligibility for on or after November 14, 1995. On or about October 30, 1995, the Board notified Plaintiff that it was suspending the reparoling portion of this directive and was going to review Plaintiff's reparole eligibility status once again. This second reparole review process began in December 1995 and was not completed until July 1996 because Defendants intentionally delayed processing paperwork and completing other procedures necessary for reparole consideration. Further, prison officials purposefully sent the Board inaccurate information to consider in reviewing Plaintiff's reparole eligibility. At the conclusion of this second reparole review, the Board set no new reparole eligibility date, ordered Plaintiff to participate in various treatment programs, and set a review date of his reparole status for July 1997.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Legal Standards

 A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) is treated under the same standard as a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). DeBraun v. Meissner, 958 F. Supp. 227, 229 (E.D. Pa. 1997). We accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all inferences in Plaintiff's favor. Pennsylvania Nurses Association v. Pennsylvania State Educational Association, 90 F.3d 797, 799-800 (3d Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 136 L. Ed. 2d 835, 117 S. Ct. 947 (1997). We may grant the motion only if Plaintiff has alleged no set of facts which would entitle him to relief. DeBraun, 958 F. Supp. at 229.

 Defendants seek judgment on the pleadings based on the doctrine of qualified immunity. In Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 102 S. Ct. 2727, 73 L. Ed. 2d 396, the Supreme Court defined the doctrine as follows: "government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." 457 U.S. 800, 818, 73 L. Ed. 2d 396, 102 S. Ct. 2727 (1982). The Court later clarified this objective test by explaining that "to defeat qualified immunity it is not sufficient that the right at issue be clearly established as a general matter. Rather, the question is whether a reasonable public official would know that his or her specific conduct violated clearly established rights." Grant v. City of Pittsburgh, 98 F.3d 116, 121 (3d Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 636-37, 97 L. Ed. 2d 523, 107 S. Ct. 3034 (1987)) (emphasis in original). The relevant legal principles must be clearly established at the time the official acted and the "contours of the right must be sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right." Anderson, 483 U.S. at 640; see also Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 341, 89 L. Ed. 2d 271, 106 S. Ct. 1092 (1986) (qualified immunity protects "all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law").

 Lacking a clear statement from the Supreme Court regarding "what nature of precedents are necessary to constitute a 'clearly established' right," Lattany v. Four Unknown U.S. Marshals, 845 F. Supp. 262, 266 n. 4 (E.D. Pa. 1994), the Third Circuit has "adopted a broad view of what constitutes an established right of which a reasonable person would have known ...." Stoneking v. Bradford Area School District, 882 F.2d 720, 726 (3d Cir. 1989) (quoting Sourbeer v. Robinson, 791 F.2d 1094, 1103 (3d Cir. 1986)). It is not necessary that there have been precedent directly on point when the official acted. DiJoseph v. City of Philadelphia, 953 F. Supp. 602, 606 (E.D. Pa. 1997). Rather, there must be "some but not precise factual correspondence between relevant precedents and the conduct at issue." In re City of Philadelphia Litig., 49 F.3d 945, 970 (3d Cir.)(quoting People of Three Mile Island v. Nuclear Regulatory Comm'rs, 747 F.2d 139, 144 (3d Cir. 1984)), cert. denied, 116 S. Ct. 176 (1995); see also DiJoseph, 953 F. Supp. at 606 (quoting same).

 Finally, because qualified immunity is an "immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability," the issue must be decided as early as possible in the litigation. Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526, 86 L. Ed. 2d 411, 105 S. Ct. 2806 (1985)(emphasis in original). We therefore endeavor to resolve the issue ...


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