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ROYAL v. DURISON

May 26, 2004.

HOZAY ROYAL, a/k/a CARLOS JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT DURISON and VIVIAN T. MILLER, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: EDUARDO ROBRENO, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

This action is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by Hozay Royal, a/k/a Carlos Johnson ("plaintiff"), who alleges that his constitutional rights were violated by Robert Durison and Vivian T. Miller (collectively "defendants") during his imprisonment for three felony convictions. Specifically, plaintiff claims that he was detained for approximately six months in excess of the statutorily prescribed maximum for the crimes in which he was convicted, thus violating his Eighth Amendment right against excessive imprisonment; and that defendants failed to give meaningful and expeditious consideration to plaintiff's request for adjustment of pre-commitment time, thus violating his Fourteenth and Fifth Amendment rights to procedural due process.

Presently before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied.

 I. BACKGROUND*fn1

  On or about March 26, 1983, plaintiff was arrested and detained for retail theft. By posting bail, plaintiff was released from detention on April 14, 1983 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 28, 1983. Because plaintiff failed to appear for the scheduled preliminary hearing, a bench warrant was issued on April 28, 1983. On or about July 29, 1984, plaintiff was arrested for a separate retail theft charge, and rearrested pursuant to the bench warrant. On November 15, 1983, plaintiff entered a guilty plea to the two retail theft charges and a single charge of failing to appear for a court appearance.

  On or about January 25, 1984, plaintiff was sentenced to two to four years of imprisonment for each offense, to run concurrently, followed by three years of probation, to run consecutively, as a result of the three felony convictions. Plaintiff served the maximum term of detention according to the sentence, and was released on or about January 25, 1987 subject to certain terms of probation. During the probation period, plaintiff was arrested on new charges and detained on February 16, 1999. Although the charges which warranted the new arrest were eventually dismissed, plaintiff was sentenced on October 12, 1999 to one and a half to three years incarceration for violating the terms of his probation.

  While serving his sentence for violating the terms of his probation, plaintiff received a sentence status summary report. The report indicated that plaintiff was being credited for time served between February 19, 1999 to October 12, 1999. In late October, plaintiff sent defendant Durison, who was the Director of Classification for the Philadelphia Prison System, a letter requesting that the pre-commitment time served from March 26, 1983 to April 14, 1983 and July 29, 1983 to January 25, 1984 — a period totally approximately 6 months — be credited towards his sentence.

  In a letter dated November 15, 1999, Durison responded to plaintiff's request indicating that plaintiff's request was being rejected. After conducting a personal investigation into the matter, Durison concluded (and notified plaintiff) that the microfilm for the period in question was not available and that in any event, plaintiff's pre-commitment time was properly credited if plaintiff was being incarcerated for violating probation.

  Convinced that all of his pre-commitment time was not properly being credited, plaintiff again wrote Durison on January 16, 2000. Durison wrote a letter to Inmate Records on March 14, 2000 acknowledging a minor error (February 16, 1999 to October 12, 1999 instead of February 19, 1999 to October 12, 1999) in pre-commitment credit. Plaintiff was copied on this letter.

  In August or September of 2000, plaintiff filed a Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition in the Pennsylvania courts seeking to receive what plaintiff still believed was the proper pre-commitment credit. During the pendency of the petition, plaintiff alleges (and both defendants deny) that he sent additional correspondences to Durison in letters dated July 28, 2001 and August 27, 2001 and a letter to defendant Miller, dated October 6, 2001. On October 30, 2003, plaintiff's PCRA petition was denied as moot plaintiff having been released from prison and no longer serving his sentence.

  In the instant action, plaintiff claims that his Eighth Amendment right against excessive punishment was violated because he was imprisoned for a term longer than that prescribed by statute for the crimes in which plaintiff was convicted.*fn2 Plaintiff also alleges that his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedurally due process were violated when Durison and Miller failed to take "meaningful and expeditious" action to ensure that plaintiff was properly credited pre-commitment time.

 II. DISCUSSION

  A. The Standard for Summary Judgment.

  A court may grant summary judgment only when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A fact is "material" only if its existence or non-existence would affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). An issue of fact is "genuine" only when there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find in favor of the non-moving party regarding the existence of that fact. Id. In determining whether there exist genuine issues of material fact, all inferences must be ...


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