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