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Hinton v. Tennis

October 27, 2010

COREY HINTON, PLAINTIFF
v.
FRANKLIN J. TENNIS, ET AL. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Corey Hinton, a former inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The defendants are several officials of the correctional facilities in which Mr. Hinton has been incarcerated. They have filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 Mr. Hinton has not responded to the motion, and the time to do so has expired. For the following reasons, I will grant the motion in its entirety, and enter judgment in favor of the defendants.

I. BACKGROUND

In 1995, as a result of two separate and unrelated incidents, Mr. Hinton was convicted of attempted homicide and car theft. Three years later, the attempted homicide charge was reduced to aggravated assault. He was sentenced on both convictions to four to six years' imprisonment to run consecutively, and served the maximum time. In 2004, Mr. Hinton was convicted of a drug offense, and sentenced to two to five years' imprisonment. The record indicates that he was "maxed out" on that conviction on November 29, 2009.

Mr. Hinton testified at his deposition that, in early 2006, while at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, he applied for pre-release to a community corrections center. On May 15, 2006, Mr. Hinton was told by his counselors at Rockview that they would support him for pre-release. He was also told, however, that no final decision would be made until letters were sent to the district attorney, the sentencing judge, and any victims. Those letters were mailed on May 22, 2006. Because no replies were received within thirty days, another meeting was scheduled, and he met with his counselors at Rockview on July 10, 2006.

Two weeks before that meeting, Mr. Hinton was denied parole based on his need to attend a required "batterers" group. The administration at Rockview, nevertheless, approved Mr. Hinton for pre-release. On October 16, 2006, Mr. Hinton was transferred to the Joseph Coleman Center in Philadelphia, a community corrections center.

On January 4, 2007, Defendant Evans Gary, Jr., one of the regional directors of the Coleman Center, issued a misconduct charge against Mr. Hinton alleging that Mr. Hinton had threatened a staff member in the early hours of January 1, 2007. Such conduct would be considered a violation of one of the conditions of Mr. Hinton's pre-release program. Mr. Hinton has consistently maintained that he was asleep at the time of the alleged offense, and thus was innocent of the charges. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hinton was transferred to the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. Hearing Examiner Mary Canino held a hearing at Graterford on January 8, 2007 on the misconduct charges. Mr. Hinton insists that he submitted a witness form to Miss Canino at the hearing, although there is no record of the form and he does not have a copy of it. Miss Canino dismissed the charges without prejudice because the misconduct report did not specifically allege the threatening behavior with which Mr. Hinton was charged.

A second misconduct report for the same incident was issued by Mr. Gary. After a hearing on February 8, 2007, Miss Canino dismissed the charges without prejudice for the report's same deficiency, i.e., failure to allege the threatening behavior. Mr. Hinton did not submit a witness form prior to the second hearing.

Mr. Hinton was transferred to Rockview, where on March 23, 2007, he received yet another set of charges stemming from the January 1, 2007 incident. A hearing on those charges was conducted on March 27, 2007.*fn2 Mr. Hinton also did not submit a witness form for that hearing. Defendant Robert Reed, the hearing examiner, found Mr. Hinton guilty of both charges in the misconduct report, i.e., threatening a staff member and violating a condition of pre-release. In his report of hearing action, Mr. Reed stated that he "believes the staff member's written report over the denial of inmate Hinton that Hinton did make a threat towards staff when he stated that he was going to kick Supervisor Bennett's f**king ass." Mr. Reed sanctioned Mr. Hinton by revoking his pre-release status. Mr. Hinton received no time in disciplinary custody as a result of being found guilty of these charges.

Mr. Hinton appealed Mr. Reed's decision to the Program Review Committee, the superintendent of Rockview, and the Chief Hearing Examiner of the Department of Corrections. Mr. Reed's decision was upheld at each level of review.

In his amended complaint, Mr. Hinton claims that he had been granted a liberty interest through the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole when he was "granted parole,"*fn3 released from Rockview, and placed in the Coleman Center. He further contends that the revocation of his "parole constitutes grounds for claiming deprivation of a constitutionally-based liberty interest, which was illegally terminated through his removal from Coleman Hall and transfer to SCI - Graterford and further transfer to SCI -Rockview." He seeks the reversal of the hearing examiner's decision, expungement of the incident from his record, re-instatement of his pre-release status, and punitive damages in the amount of $10,000 plus costs and attorneys fees.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with 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). An issue is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is "material" if it might affect the outcome of the case under governing law. Id.

A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility for informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular issue at trial, the movant's initial Celotex burden can be met simply by "pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. After the moving party has met its initial burden, "the adverse party's ...


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