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Gilliam v. Holt

March 31, 2008

FOREST GILLIAM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RONALD HOLT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. Richard Caputo B. United States District Judge

(Judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiff Forest Gilliam ("Plaintiff" or "Gilliam") commenced this Bivens*fn1 action against prison officials from the Schuylkill Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI-Schuylkill") in Minersville, Pennsylvania shortly before he was released from that facility upon the completion of his sentence.*fn2 Gilliam alleges that Defendants abused their authority, discriminated against him, and denied him due process under the Fifth Amendment when they placed false information in his progress report indicating that he was "litigious," which resulted in the denial of his halfway house placement. (Doc. 1 at 4-5, 7-8). He further alleges that Defendants' redaction of the false statements is proof that they committed fraud and falsified documents. (Id. at 8-9.) Further, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Whalen referred to Gilliam as "litigious" in retaliation against him for exercising his right to free speech pursuant to the First Amendment in filing previous lawsuits, including one against Whalen's friend and co-worker, Disciplinary Hearing Officer Kevin Bittenbender. (Id. at 6-8.)

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 11.) Also before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judicial Notice. (Doc. 12.) For the reasons set forth below, the motions will be granted.

BACKGROUND

In his Complaint, Gilliam names the following six employees of the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") in their individual and official capacities: 1) Ronald Holt, FCI-Schuylkill Warden; 2) D. Scott Dodrill, Regional Director; 3) Harrell Watts, Administrator of National Inmate Appeals; 4) Harley Lappin, Director; 5) Linda Edwards, FCI-Schuylkill Unit Manager; 6) Walter Whalen, FCI-Schuylkill Case Manager. (Doc. 1 at 2.)

Defendants have submitted a Statement of Material Facts (Doc. 15), supported by Declarations of Defendant Edwards and BOP Attorney-Advisor, John E. Wallace. Attached to the Declarations are supporting documentation regarding Defendants' attempts to place Gilliam in a halfway house; records summarizing Gilliam's disciplinary record and administrative remediesfiled during his incarceration; and copies of the administrative remedies and responses pertinent to this case. These submissions reveal the following facts.

Gilliam arrived at FCI-Schuylkill on January 31, 2005 and remained there until his release from BOP custody on February 26, 2007. (Doc. 15 ¶ 1.)

On July 20, 2006, FCI-Schuylkill staff forwarded an "Institutional Referral for Community Correction Center ("CCC")*fn3 Placement" packet, to Kenneth Johnson, Community Corrections Manager ("CCM") in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Id. ¶ 2.) The packet contained a referral form, current progress report*fn4 , community based program agreement, Supervision Release Plan, and Judgment and Commitment Order. (Id. ¶ 3.) The unit team recommended that Gilliam be placed in a halfway house in the Northern District of Ohio for the last six months of his sentence. (Id. ¶ 4.)

The CCM reviewed the packet and sent it to the relevant Northeast Ohio halfway houses for consideration. (Id. ¶ 5.)On August 31, 2006, the Oriana House, Incorporated, a halfway house in Akron Ohio, erroneously sent a receipt form to Gilliam indicating that he was accepted for placement and that he would arrive there on September 29, 2006. (Id. ¶ 6.) On September 6, 2006, Gilliam signed the receipt form and presented it to prison staff to be mailed back to the Oriana House. (Id. ¶ 7.) However, on September 7, 2006, Gilliam's case manager contacted the CCM to inquire why the halfway house acceptance date was not reflected on BOP's SENTRY computer system. (Id. ¶ 8.) The CCM informed Gilliam's case manager that the Oriana House Rules and Regulations were sent to Gilliam in error. (Id. ¶ 9.) Gilliam's admission to the Oriana House programs in Cleveland and Akron had been denied on September 1, 2006 because of his "poor institutional adjustment." (Id. ¶ 10; Doc. 14-5 at 20, September 1, 2006 correspondence from Oriana House intake specialist to Johnson.) Gilliam also had been denied admission by the Community Corrections Association ("CCA") in Youngstown, Ohio on August 31, 2006 because there were no beds available. (Doc. 15 ¶ 11; Doc. 14-5 at 22, August 31, 2006 correspondence from unit specialist at CCA to Johnson.)

Thereafter, Defendant Edwards contacted the CCM to attempt to secure a halfway house placement for Plaintiff. (Doc. 15 ¶ 12.) Defendant Edwards was advised that halfway houses in Cleveland and Akron had denied Plaintiff's placement two times and that a halfway house in Youngstown had denied his placement three times. (Id. ¶ 13; Doc. 14-5 at 24.) Defendant Edwards then requested that Plaintiff be placed in a Comprehensive Sanction Center ("CSC"), but was advised that Plaintiff already had been denied placement twice by the only CSC available, which is located in Cleveland. (Doc. 15 ¶¶ 14-15; Doc. 14-5 at 24.) Gilliam did not receive halfway house placement prior to his release from BOP custody on February 26, 2007. (Doc. 15 ¶¶ 16-17.)

Plaintiff filed his Complaint on February 26, 2007. Service of the Complaint was directed by Order dated March 2, 2007. (Doc. 6.) The Court granted Defendants' motion for an extension of time to file an Answer to the Complaint (Doc. 10), and on July 13, 2007, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Summary Judgment (Doc. 11.) Defendants filed a supporting brief (Doc. 14) and Statement of Material Facts (Doc. 15).

Because Plaintiff did not file a brief in opposition to Defendants' Motion, on November 8, 2007, the Court directed him to file his opposition within fifteen days or else the Court would deem the Motion unopposed. (Doc. 16.) Plaintiff was specifically directed to file his opposition in accordance with M.D. Pa. L.R. 56.1. (Id. at 2.) On November 27, 2007, Plaintiff filed his brief in opposition to the Motion. (Doc. 17.) However, he did not file a Statement of Material Facts. Therefore, on December 4, 2007, the Court directed Plaintiff to file his Statement on or before December 18, 2007. (Doc. 18.) Plaintiff timely filed his Statement. (Doc. 20.) Defendants filed their Reply Brief on December 10, 2007. (Doc. 19.) Thus, the Motion is ripe for disposition.

Defendants also have filed a Motion for Judicial Notice (Doc. 12) and supporting brief (Doc. 13) requesting that the Court take judicial notice of Plaintiff's other, related proceeding before this Court, Forest Gilliam v. Holt, No. 3:CV-06-2127, pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 201(b). The Court will dispose of this Motion before proceeding to an analysis of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment.

MOTION FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

Federal Rule of Evidence 201(b) provides that, "[a] judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Judicial notice is mandatory only where a party requests that it be taken and supplies the necessary information. Fed. R. Evid. 201(d). A court is entitled to take judicial notice of the record in a prior, related proceeding. See Oneida Motor Freight, Inc. v. United Jersey Bank, 848 F.2d 414, 416 n.3 (3d Cir. 1988) (citations omitted); cf. Freshman v. Atkins, 269 U.S. 121, 124 (1925) (while a court is not bound to seek the records of other courts and give effect to their judgments, this is not to say that a court may not take judicial notice "of, and give effect to, its own records in another [ ] . . . interrelated, proceeding . . .").

In the instant case, Defendants request that the Court take judicial notice pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 201(b) of Plaintiff's other, related proceeding before this Court, Forest Gilliam v. Holt, No. 3:CV-06-2127. (See Doc. 12.) Gilliam commenced that action by filing a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 2241. In his Petition, Gilliam raised the following grounds: 1) he was denied halfway house placement for the last six months of his sentence in violation of the rule set forth in Woodall v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 432 F.3d 235, 251 (3d Cir. 2005); 2) he was entitled to immediate release to a halfway house; 3) he would have been accepted at Oriana House, Incorporated, a halfway house in Akron, Ohio, if members of his unit team at FCI-Schuylkill had not placed propaganda in his "referral packet and/or his Progress Report"; 4) FCI-Schuylkill staff were motivated by "deceit, vindictiveness, abuse of authority, and discrimination . . . "; 5) he was denied halfway house placement "for propaganda such as poor institutional adjustment, argumentative towards staff members, and for being very litigious [ ]"; and 6) he was being punished for his success in litigation rather than for any bona fide instances of poor institutional adjustment. See 3:CV-06-2127, Docs. 1, 2.

On February 20, 2007, this Court dismissed Gilliam's Petition for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. See id., Doc. 24.

Because Defendants have requested that the Court take judicial notice and have supplied the necessary information, and the Court is entitled to take judicial notice of prior related proceedings, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion and take judicial notice of Forest Gilliam v. Holt, No. 3:CV-06-2127. Fed. R. Evid. 201(b), (d); see Oneida, 848 F.2d at 416 n.3.

The Court now will turn to an analysis of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the alternative, for Summary Judgment.

LEGAL STANDARDS

I. Motion to ...


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